Postoperative Instructions

Dr. Brian Nelson

Postoperative Instructions

(720) 494-3130

The first few days after surgery are the most difficult. It is important to rest, take your pain medications regularly, stay well hydrated, get up and walk around at least four times a day, and call your doctor if you have any problems.

You may experience shoulder or neck pain for several days after your surgery if it involved laparoscopy.  This is from the gas placed in your abdomen during surgery and usually within a few days this gas is reabsorbed and the pain will subside.  You may use ice or heat, position changes, pain medications to help relieve this pain.

Generally, I recommend taking non-steroidal pain medication scheduled around the clock for the first 5-7 days. This includes Ibuprofen 800 mg (4 tablets) every 6 hours or Naproxen 440 mg (2 tablets) every 12 hours. Take your prescription medication (hydrocodone, oxycodone) as needed. Remember to take your pain medication when you begin to feel it increasing. Do not wait for the pain to become severe before taking your medication since it will take about 30 minutes to begin to feel relief. Do not take non-steroidal medication if instructed to avoid them for other medical conditions (stomach or intestinal issues, allergy, etc.)

You may apply a heating pad or ice to your abdomen for additional relief. It is common to feel discomfort, especially with movements, on the right side of your abdomen. Your abdominal wall will feel swollen for 6-10 weeks after surgery.

Remove all band-aides the day after surgery. You may shower the day after surgery and take a bath one week after surgery.

For the first 3-7 days, you should be on home rest. That means no driving or doing organized activities. Your goal should be to relax, read books, watch movies, nap and put your energies into healing. After a week, you can slowly begin resuming your usual activities other than heavy lifting and sex.  Listen to your body and don’t overdo it.

You may eat and drink whatever you feel like. If you don’t have much of an appetite, try to at least stay well hydrated.  Several small meals a day may work better at first. Be sure to eat something before taking your pain medicines, as this will decrease the chance of nausea.

Pain medication and decreased activity may cause constipation.  Please start taking a stool softener (Colace, MiraLax, or Metamucil) when you get home from surgery.  When you stop your pain medications and resume more normal activities, you can stop taking the stool softeners.

You will need to follow-up with Dr. Nelson for post-op visits as recommended, usually around two and six weeks post-op. Please call the office when you get home to schedule those appointments.

Some vaginal discharge and scant bleeding can be normal depending on the type of surgery you had.  This should get less with time and is usually gone by 4 – 6 weeks.

After surgery, the first couple days are the most difficult and then, every day should be better as long as you don’t overdo it.  If that is not the case, then please call your doctor’s office.

You may drive a car when you are not requiring pain medication and you can react to an emergency (swerve, turn your head, slam on the brake pedal, etc.) There is no specific time period, but please be careful and use common sense. Ask yourself, “would I want someone in my state to be driving on the road with my family?”

No sex or anything else in the vagina until after your doctor has specifically told you it is safe to do so. This is typically after the six week postoperative visit. However, if healing is slower than usual, this may be longer.

You may slowly return to normal activities. No heavy lifting or straining for 3-4 weeks. If you have to hold your breath to lift something, then it is too heavy. If you have had any surgery for prolapse (sacrocolpopexy, mesh, cystocele or rectocele repair, or uterine prolapse repair) then you must refrain from straining and heavy lifting for 6 weeks to prevent the repaired tissue from “tearing out”.

If you are sent home with a bladder catheter make sure the tubing does not become twisted and occluded. This will not allow your bladder to drain appropriately and could lead to further problems. If the catheter is irritating your urethra you may use “Azo-Regular or Extra Strength”. This will numb the bladder and urethra while you have it in place and will make you more comfortable. The medication can be purchased at Walgreen’s and Grocery stores. It will turn your urine orange so don’t be alarmed.

If you were instructed to use estrogen cream in the vagina before surgery, you should resume after the two-week postoperative appointment.

Other reasons to call your doctor’s office include these WARNING SIGNS:

  • Pain that is not relieved by pain medications
  • Symptoms getting worse over time instead of better
  • Fever over 101
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bleeding, watery, or malodorous discharge
  • Not passing gas for 48 hours
  • No bowel movements in 4 days
  • Redness and swelling around incisions
  • Difficult or painful urination
  • Difficulty emptying your bladder or feeling of incomplete bladder emptying
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath, swollen or blue colored leg
  • Unexplained symptoms

When in doubt, please call Dr. Nelson. It is easier to treat a problem early rather than late.