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Surgery 101

What To Expect Just After Surgery

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After surgery you will be moved to a recovery room or area. If you have been put to sleep during surgery, this is where you will wake up.

When you first wake up after an operation is over, you may experience any of the following temporary effects:

  • Dry mouth from medicine that stopped your saliva and mucus production. 
  • A sore or scratchy throat if you had a breathing tube in your throat during the operation. 
  • A feeling of nausea, or even vomiting, because of the anesthesia you received during the operation. 
  • A groggy feeling once the anesthesia wears off. 
  • Possibly a feeling of being disoriented or blurred vision. 
  • Discomfort or pain at the surgical site. 
  • Depression.
  • (For information about how to deal with these effects, see the documents in "To Learn More.")

Depending on the surgery, you will likely be hooked up to at least one tube. You may be hooked up to more tubes, including a catheter to remove urine from your system, and to one or more monitors.

  • Ask your surgeon what to expect.
  • After the operation, the nursing staff can explain what each tube and monitor are for. For example, one tube may be for pain relief. One may be delivery of an antibiotic to help prevent infection. A monitor may keep track of your heart function, or blood pressure.

After you recover from the anesthesia, you will be moved to a room in the hospital known as the recovery room or into an Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

  • Recovery room: The recovery room is an area where patients who do not need close monitoring recover from an operation prior to being moved to a regular room or being discharged from the hospital. Sometimes there may be an extended stay in the recovery room or area if there are no beds available in the hospital. If the surgery was done on an outpatient basis, you will be discharged and allowed to go home. You will likely need someone with you to take you home before you can be discharged.
  • ICU: The typical ICU is a part of a hospital with an assortment of life saving equipment, highly trained medical personnel and a high ratio of nurses and other medical personnel to patients. 

You will likely be asked to do breathing exercises. The exercises help decrease the risk of getting pneumonia, a potentially serious postsurgical complication.

If you stay in the hospital: don't be surprised if:

  • You are asked to get out of bed quickly, even if just to stand for a few minutes. Exercise and gravity help reduce the chance of additional complications. If you can't get out of bed, you may be given exercises to do in bed. 
  • You are limited to a clear liquid diet which consists of water, juices, fat-free broth, tea, coffee, gelatin, ginger ale or seltzer. As your bowels start to function, you will move on to soft, easily digested foods. Then you will move to a normal diet (or at least what hospitals and other health care facilities consider a normal diet.)

To Learn More

More Information

Nausea Dry Mouth

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