What to Expect After Surgery

We'll let you know when you're ready to leave the surgery center. Before you leave, we will tell you how to care for yourself at home and prevent infections. If you don't understand something, please say so. We will answer any questions you have.
 

Immediately Following Surgery

Immediately Following Surgery

What to Expect after your Surgery is Complete

Immediately following your procedure you will be moved to a recovery room, where a nurse and medical teal will closely watch you.  If you have any pain or discomfort, tell your nurse, and they will try to make you comfortable.  The length of your stay and recovery will depend on the type of anesthesia/medication you recieved, your medical condition, and the type of surgery you underwent.    
  • If you are staying overnight, we will move you to your hospital room shortly after you wake from your anesthesia.
  • If you are going home, we may move you to another room, where your friends and family can join you.  
During your recovery and stay, a nurse will check your comfort levels often to ensure we are managing your pain accordingly.  Remember:
  • All pain is real.  There are many ways to control it and we're here to help find what works best for you. 
  • Ask for pain medicationi when you need it, don't try to "tough it out," as this can make you feel worse.  Always take your medications as prescribed. 
  • Medication does not work the same for all individuals.  If your medication is not working, tell your nurse or care team.  There may be alternative medications or treatments available to you.  
We will let you know when you are ready to leave the surgery center or hosptial.  Before you leave, we will give you detailed instructions on at home care, to prevent the risk of infection.  If at anytime you have questions or do not understand something, please let your care team know.  We are here to ensure your safety, healing, and understanding of your health and care plan.  

Your Stay in the Hospital

Your Stay in the Hospital

Care Plan for your Stay in the Hospital

This care plan will help you better understand what to expect while you are in the hospital.  Your care plan may change depending on your needs and recovery.  Please ask questions if you are not sure of something or do not understand.  
 
Your care team:
Your health care team will be made up of doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, dietitians, chaplains, social workers, care coordinators, and other medical specialists/care providers.
 
What you can expect in the hospital:
  • Staff will routinely be checking your vitals (blood pressure, pulse, and temperature), even at night. 
  • If you have pain or feel nauseated, please ask your nurse for medication. 
  • We will ask you to cough or use a spirometer (breathing device) to keep your lungs strong and clear. 
  •  We may give you an antibiotic prior to surgery to prevent infections. 
  • When you are stable, you will be moved from the recovery unit to your hospital room.  Hospital staff will help you walk from the stretcher to the bed.  
  • You will receive fluids and medications through an IV line until you are able to take liquids and food by mouth. 
  • You may have a thin tube/catheter inserted into your bladder (through the urethra) to drain urine and limit your need to use the restroom.  This will be removed by 6 a.m. the morning following surgery. 
  • Initially you will be started on a clear liquid diet, to ensure you tolerate it before adding more liquids and food.  
  • We will help you walk 4 times a day.  You will be asked to sit in a chair for all meals.  
  • You will be allowed to shower 24 hours after surgery. 
  • We will provide medications to prevent constipation.  Typically senakot, 2 times a day with 1 rectal suppository, unless you have had a bowel resection.
  • You will be given medication to help with pain management and a nurse will routinely check your comfort level.  
  • All pain is real.  We will work with you to find the method that works best to keep you comfortable and manage your pain. 
Your goals:
With the help of you care team, you will work to:
  • Be as comfortable as possible and manage your pain levels.
  • Walk at least 4 times a day. 
  • Sit in a chair for all meals or at least 3 times per day.
  • Wear compression boots (SCDs) in bed to help prevent blood clots (DVTs)
  • Use a breathing device/spirometer at least 10 times each hour while you are awake.  This will help clear your lungs and prevent infections. 
  • Wear a binder around your belly to support your incision. 
  • Pee/urinate without problems.  Or, if needed, learn to care for a catheter/bladder tube. 
  • Describe the signs of infection. 
  • State your follow-up plan. 
What you can do:
You will heal faster if you do as much as you can for yourself while in the hospital. 
  • You should be more active every day.  
  • Please let us know your feelings and concerns. 
  • Talk to family or friends about what you may need after you leave the hospital.  
Family members and friends:
We support family members who wish to take part in their loved ones care.  Below, please find some general guidelines and information about the hospital for guests.  
  • Please make visits between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.  If possible, limit the number of guests in the room at one time to ensure a quiet environment conducive to rest and healing. 
  • Children under the age of 16 are welcome as long as they are accompanied by an adult. 
  • There are restrooms next to the public elevators on each floor.  Please refrain from using patient bathrooms.  
  • Always wash your hands before visiting or when entering a room.  Do not visit your loved one if you are sick or have symptoms of an illness. 
  • If your loved one is in a shared room, please do not plan to stay overnight in their room.  The nursing station has a list of nearby hotels. 
  • The Bridges Cafe, located on the 8th floor, is open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on weekends.  
  • Valet parking is available at the front entrance of the hospital.  
Sharing information:
  • Nursing staff will have brief meetings at your bedside between 7:00-7:30 a.m. and 3:00-3:30 p.m. to discuss your care plan.  This is a good time to ask questions or express feelings.  
  • We are legally required to protect your information, if you wish to share this information with your family, we will need your permission. 
Getting ready to go home:
We will always inform you ahead of time when you will be discharged home.  Your care coordinator will help you create a home care plan to ensure your safety after discharge.  Before leaving the hospital you will be taught:
  • Signs of infection
  • When you should call your doctor or nurse
  • Tips for good nutrition and eating habits
  • How to take your medications
  • How to return to your regular activity
  • Wound care
  • Drain care, if applicable
A social worker can meet with you to discuss:
  • Emotional concerns
  • Family issues
  • Adjusting to your diagnosis
  • Community services/resources
  • Financial or insurance concerns
You will need to make a follow-up/post surgical appointment with the cancer clinic.  If you have staples, they will need to be removed 10-14 days after your surgery, your doctor can perform this in clinic.  

Home Care after Gynecologic Surgery

Home Care after Gynecologic Surgery

Plan for Home Care after Gynecologic Surgery

This care plan will help you better understand what to expect while recovering at home.  Please note your care plan may change depending on your needs and recovery.  Please ask questions if you are not sure of something or do not understand.  
 
Wound care:
  • If you have a bandage, you may remove it after 24 hours.  Keep a dry, clean bandage on teh wound if it is draining.  
  • Once the wound has stopped draining, leave it open to the air.  You can cover the wound with a clean bandage during the day, if it will be exposed or rubbed by clothing.  
  • Keep the wound clean and dry.  Do not use ointment on it, unless told otherwise by your doctor.  
  • You may shower 24 hours after surgery.
  • Do not soak in the tub for at least 4 weeks.
Activity:
  • Try to cough, breathe deeply, and use your breathing device (spirometer) every 15-30 minutes when awake.  This will help to prevent breathing problem and fevers. 
  • When coughing or sneezing, you may want to hug a pillow for added support, if you had surgery on the abdominal area.  This will help to reduce any pain.  
  • For 6-8 weeks, do not lift anything over 20 pounds, refrain from heavy exercises or those that require the use of core/abdominal muscle groups (i.e. yoga, pilates, swimming, weight lifting). 
  • You may walk as much as you wish.  Try to increase your activity each day, walking stairs is okay.  
  • After a hysterectomy, do not put anything in your vagina for 8 weeks.  This includes: tampons, intercourse, douche washes.  
  • You can expect light spotting and discharge for up to 6 weeks, post surgery.  If bleeding becomes heavy, please contact your surgeons office.  
Medicines:
  • Take pain medications, such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen, or Naprosyn with food. This will reduce the risk of an upset stomach or nausea. 
  • If you have nausea, vomiting, or a rash, stop taking the medication and call your doctor. 
  • Do not drive, make important decisions, or use heavy machinery while taking narcotic pain medications. 
Diet:
  • You may eat a normal diet, unless otherwise instructed by your doctor. 
  • A high-fiber diet and plenty of fluids will help prevent constipation.  
Constipation:
Constipation is common after surgery.  To alleviate this symptom, drink plenty of water.  You can take stool softeners (Senokot-S) for 6 weeks, unless you experience loose stools or diarrhea.  If you remain constipated or are unable to pass stool, please try one of the following measures:  
  • Milk of magnesia: 30 ml (2 tablespoons), twice daily
  • Metamucil: 2 tablespoons mixed with 12 ounces of fluid
  • Dulcolax oral or rectal suppositories
  • Prunes or prune juice
  • Miralax once daily
You will need to make a follow-up/post surgical appointment with the cancer clinic.  If you have staples, they will need to be removed 10-14 days after your surgery, your doctor can perform this in clinic.