Recovering from Surgery - Post-Operative Instructions

As you prepare to go home following surgery, your doctor or nurse will review discharge instructions with you. They will be happy to answer any questions you may have. You must have someone available to drive you home. You may also want a family member or friend along to listen to instructions with you, and help you at home as you recover. Below are some common post-operative instructions.


At Home

  • Be sure to follow all home-going instructions.
  • Properly care for and clean your incision site if doctors order indicates.
  • Take medications as directed.
  • Call your physician if you have side effects such as vomiting, rash, itching, hives, etc. After hours or on weekends, call the hospital operator at 419-668-8101, if you need to reach your doctor, or if it is an emergency, call 9-1-1.

Pain Control

As you may have some pain following your surgery, your doctor may prescribe different medications depending on your type of pain. Pain medication will help you feel better and can help you heal more quickly. Take medications only as directed. Do not wait for pain to become severe. The longer pain goes untreated, the more difficult it is to relieve. Pain medication works best when taken as directed, before pain becomes severe, and is usually prescribed with food to prevent nausea.

For Your Safety

Do not drink alcoholic beverages when you are taking pain medication as this can cause serious side effects. Do not drive while taking medications.

Coping with Side Effects

One of the most frequent side effects patients experience is constipation. Take laxatives only if prescribed by your doctor. Increase your intake of water and other fluids and fiber. Report stomach pain, nausea, rash or itching to your surgeon.

Caring for Your Incision

You may be discharged home with a dressing to keep your incision clean and dry. You may also have tubes for drainage. Most dressings, tubes and drains are easy to care for.

  • If you have a dressing, tube or drain, keep it clean and dry.
  • If a tube or drain comes out, dont panic but call your doctor right away.
  • Your doctor may instruct you to keep your incision higher than your heart when you rest, sit or sleep. This can help reduce pain and swelling.
  • Be sure to follow your doctors instructions for care of your incision.
  • Do not shower or bathe until your doctor says it is okay.

Watch for Infection

Your incision site may become slightly red or swollen. This is normal. If redness, swelling or bleeding increases or if it becomes warm to the touch or develops a foul smell, you may have an infection. A fever can also be a sign of infection. If you notice any of these signs, call your doctor.

Good Nutrition is Important

Healthy eating helps your body heal itself. If you were on a special diet before your surgery, ask your doctor if you should continue to follow it as you recover.

Gradually increase your intake of food. You may want to start with clear liquids, gelatin or soup broth. As you are feeling better you can move on to soft foods such as mashed potatoes or applesauce and then on to high protein foods such as chicken, fish, beans or yogurt.

It is also very important to drink lots of fluids. Drinking fluids will help you feel better and balance your bodys chemicals. Watch for dark yellow urine as this may be a sign that you are not getting enough to drink.


After surgery, you are likely to feel tired so get plenty of rest to give your body time to heal. Follow your surgeons advice about deep breathing, coughing, driving and other activities.

Breathing and Coughing

To help clear your lungs and prevent pneumonia, you may be shown how to deep-breathe and cough after surgery.

  • If you were sent home with a spirometer, use it as you have been shown.
  • After minor surgery breathe deeply and cough regularly for 1-2 days.
  • Support your incision with a pillow when you cough.
  • To avoid lung problems, do not smoke.

Follow Up

Followup care is an important part of your healing process. Your doctor will need to check your incision site (stitches, staples, tubes or cast) following surgery.

We provide continued support for patients if you have questions or concerns throughout your recovery process. Call Fisher-Titus at any time at 419-668-8101 if you have questions.