Frequently Asked Questions

Should I continue to take my medications as before the surgery?
In most cases, you should resume your regular medication schedule when you return home. Occasionally there will be changes made while you are in the hospital. These instructions will be on your discharge papers. If you have any questions, call our office or the office of the prescribing physician.

What if I have nausea?
Some nausea after anesthesia is not unusual, but it should resolve within 24 hours. If nausea persists, it could be related to pain medication. A change in pain medication may be necessary. Please call for persistent nausea.

Will I have pain after surgery? How do I handle pain management?
Every surgery involves some pain and discomfort. You will be given a prescription for pain medication. Remember, pain medication will not completely stop the pain, but should reduce it to a tolerable level. Since some pain medications can cause nausea, it is best to take it with food—at least a few crackers or some milk.

Try other non-medication methods of pain relief: heat or ice, moving around and changing positions, relaxation techniques. Ice is usually best for the first 48 hours, then you may use heat or ice, whichever feels better.

What if I can’t move my bowels?
Post-operative constipation is common. Narcotic pain medication also causes constipation. You should take a stool softener (docusate sodium) 2-3 times per day while you are taking narcotic pain medications. Sometimes that is not enough. Other ways to prevent constipation include: drink plenty of water, activity such as walking, eating fruits, vegetables, high fiber foods, prune juice, fiber supplements such as Metamucil, Fibercon.

You should have a bowel movement within 3 days after your surgery. If you do not, you may take a laxative. Some suggestions are: Miralax, Milk of Magnesia, Dulcolax, Sennokot. If these do not work, a stronger laxative is magnesium citrate. You may also use a rectal suppository or a Fleet enema. If you still have not had a bowel movement, call the office for further assistance.

What if I have difficulty urinating?
You should empty your bladder within 8 hours after surgery. Pain medication can sometimes affect your bladder function. If you cannot urinate, have difficulty starting urination , feel you are unable to empty your bladder or feel that your lower abdomen is swollen, CALL. You may need to go to the Emergency Room.

Sometimes the difficulty urinating may be related to a urinary tract (bladder) infection. Signs of a urinary tract infection include: Burning when you urinate, difficulty starting to urinate, feeling like you have to go all the time, but you can only pass a small amount urine. The urine may be cloudy or bloody, or have a foul odor. You may get lower abdominal pain or have a fever. Please call the office immediately if you have symptoms of a urinary tract infection.

Why does may back hurt after a laparoscopic surgery?
“Referred” pain into the shoulders and “gas pains” are common after laparoscopic surgery, because of the gas used to inflate the abdomen. Getting up and moving around will help with this pain. Anti-gas over-the-counter medications such as simethicone (Gas-X, Mylicon) may help.

How do I take care of my incision?

  • You may remove the dressing 48 hours after surgery. Leave any steri-strips (narrow strips of tape) in the incision until they peel off by themselves. Some clear, yellow or pinkish drainage from the incision is not unusual.
  • DO NOT put any ointment, creams or lotions on the incision.
  • Some swelling and a firm ridge along the incision is normal and expected.

Call the office if you develop a temperature above 101° F, chills, redness around the incision, or if the incision drains pus, thick drainage or has a foul odor.


I was sent home with a drain. How do I take care of it?

Often surgical drains are placed during surgery to prevent the accumulation of fluid around the surgical site. Occasionally patients are discharged with the drain. Care of the drain:

  • Keep the drain insertion site covered with a clean dressing.
  • Empty the drainage bulb or bag twice daily, measure the drainage and record the amount.
  • If there is a bulb, open the bulb, squeeze it and recap it. This creates a suction effect.
  • Keep the drain tube secured so there is no tugging on it.

Call the office if the drainage changes in appearance or increases significantly in volume.

Where can I get more information regarding my ON-Q pain pump?

What kinds of activity can I do after surgery?
Activity is very important for your recovery. It helps you breathe better, preventing pneumonia, prevents blood clots, helps your bowels work better, increases your strength. The following are recommendations for post-operative activity. Please be aware, you may have specific restrictions or instructions related to the type of surgery that you had.

You may resume normal non-strenuous activity when you are discharged from the hospital.

  • Walking is an excellent activity and is unrestricted.
  • No heavy lifting or straining for at least 2 weeks (or longer depending on your type of surgery).
  • After 7-10 days, begin increasing your activity. By 2-4 weeks after surgery, you should be back to all your normal activities.
  • Take 5-6 deep breaths and forcibly cough 2-3 times every 2 hours while awake. Continue to use the incentive spirometer for breathing exercises.
  • Exercise your legs by walking, flexing and extending your feet. Elevate your legs when sitting for long periods of time. These activities will prevent venous pooling and risk of blood clots.
  • Going up and down stairs is a good activity and is not restricted.

When can I shower?
Usually you may shower 48 hours after the surgery, if all drains and tubes have been removed. If you have drains in place, you may cover the insertion sites with plastic wrap and shower. It is OK to shower with staples in after 48 hours. Do not soak in a bath tube, swim or use a hot tub with incision under water until the incision is completely healed (usually around 2-3 weeks).

When can I drive?
You should NOT drive if you are using narcotic pain medication—these will cause drowsiness and slowed reflexes. If you are having pain or weakness that limit your ability to react and move quickly, you should not be driving.