Patient Information

Post-Operative Instructions and Frequently Asked Questions

Surgical Incisions:

Laparoscopic incisions are typically sealed with tissue adhesive. This allows you to bathe the following day after surgery. If there is visible redness or worsening pain at the surgical site, contact the office.

Skin tapes or steri strips may cover your incisions.  These support the suture closure and should be left in place for one week then they may be removed.  Steri strips should be removed before your post-op visit to allow the doctor to inspect your incisions.

Expect some pain at the incision sites.  This will improve and resolve over the next several days.  Bruising is not uncommon around incisions particularly in patients taking aspirin.  This will resolve over time, until then it will contribute to post-operative soreness and pain with movement.

Redness at the incision site could be a sign of infection or irritation from the adhesive on the dressing.  If it persists or enlarges, bring it to the doctor’s attention.

If your incision was closed with skin staples, your post-op appointment should be made so they can be removed within 10 days or so.

If you don’t see staples, your incisions have been closed with absorbable suture that does not need to be removed.  Occasionally the suture may come out of the corner of a healed incision and may be pulled out or cut off if necessary.

Pain medications:

A prescription for narcotic pain medication has been provided to keep you comfortable during your convalescence. You should expect to use this for at least the first 2-3 days after surgery, then again occasionally as you increase your activity level.  The prescription given is adequate in most patients to manage postoperative pain requirements.  If you are having significant pain despite taking these medications it may be a sign of a problem and should be brought to the doctor’s attention.

Pain medications have side effects that you should be aware of and include nausia and vomiting.  If you are experiencing these symptoms, call for an alternative medication.  Constipation is another common side effect and can result in cramping and abdominal discomfort.  This can be managed with a gentle laxative such as Milk of Magnesia as needed.  Pay attention to your bowel habits and treat early to prevent a problem.

You should avoid driving, operating heavy equipment or potentially hazardous garden equipment while taking narcotics.  Make no important decisions while taking prescription pain medications.

Shoulder pain is a common early side effect of laparoscopic surgery that resolves commonly within 24 – 48 hours.  Activity, deep breathing and cough will encourage resolution of this discomfort and is recommended.

 

Fever:

Low-grade fevers are not unusual after abdominal surgery and should be managed with cough, deep breathing and walking.  Tylenol 650 mg can be helpful as well.  Fevers over 101 degrees that persist may be a sign of a problem and the doctor should be notified.  Take your temperature prior to calling the doctor as the actual temperature may impact the course and time of evaluation.

Activity level:

Most people having laparoscopic surgery will be moving around comfortably within 3-5 days.

Gallbladder patients should be able to return to work within 10-14 days and in many cases much sooner depending upon your job.

Hernia patients and anti-reflux patients may have a lifting profile for an additional 2 – 4 weeks on an individual basis.

General instructions for post laparoscopy activity level are to resume activities as tolerated.  Mild discomfort can be managed well with extra strength Tylenol or equivalent and can be used anytime as a substitute for narcotics for mild symptoms.

Follow-up appointments:

Patients are routinely seen in 10 – 14 days following laparoscopic surgery.  If you don’t have an appointment made at the time of your pre-op appointment, call 888-0909 as soon as convenient after your surgery to ensure flexibility.

Driving:

The timing of resuming driving is more related to your level of discomfort after surgery.  In most cases, anesthetic medications and sedation from the surgery are out of your system within 24 – 48 hours however if you are taking narcotic pain medications, you are not safe to drive.

Travel out of the area:

Despite the rapid recovery following laparoscopic surgical procedures, most patients should avoid remote travel prior to your post-operative appointment.  In unusual circumstances, the doctor will arrange to see you early for an assessment and modify recommendations prior to your leaving the area.

After business hours and weekend problems:

If you are having problems or have questions relating to your surgery that need to be addressed prior to your post-op visit, try to call the office early.  Office staff may be able to assist you in many cases.  The doctor typically answers calls at the end of his day (which may be in the early evening at times) so notify office staff of the urgency of the problem.

Avoid calling after business hours or on weekends for routine prescription renewals.

Other surgeons in the community may be “covering” your doctor’s practice on weekends or if he is out of town.  If you have a problem that has to be addressed during this period, you should call the office first at 888-0909.  If the staff is unable to assist you, they will refer you to the covering physician.  If you call after hours or on the weekend, the hospital will direct your call appropriately.

If you do not get a response in a timely manner for what you perceive to be an urgent problem, proceed to the emergency department at Oconee Medical Center at 885-7101or contact your family physician.