There are many reasons you or a family member might have outpatient surgery. Commonly performed procedures include tonsillectomy, hernia repairs, cataracts, gastric bypass surgery and laparoscopic abdominal surgeries. Modern technology has made these surgeries very safe and less invasive to allow patients to recover at home rather than in the hospital. There are certainly advantages to spending the night in your own bed. Patients who return home should keep in mind that even though their surgery is over, their recovery is just beginning, and their first priority is taking care of themselves.
From Recovery to the House
Depending on your procedure you may have to go under anesthesia for your surgery. After the surgery, nurses will wheel you into the recovery room in the hospital. They’ll monitor your breathing, heart rate and oxygen levels as you wake up. You’ll probably be in the recovery room for an hour or two. Before heading home, nurses will check that you are able to walk unassisted and emptyyour bladder.
Anesthesia often has the unpleasant side effect of making patients feel nauseated. If you feel sick before leaving the hospital, ask your recovery nurse if you can have medication to settle your stomach. Someone will have to meet you at the recovery room and drive you home. It’s a good idea to call on a family member or good friend who can stay with you for the first 24 hours or so after your discharge in case you need help. Your doctor will have given you written instructions on your responsibilities once you leave the hospital. Typically, this includes:
- Prescriptions for your medications and directions for taking them
- What your activity level should be: resting, sitting or more advanced
- A date to return to work
- What you’re allowed to eat
Once You Are Home
You may feel groggy and weak from the anesthesia when you arrive home. Some of that is to be expected. If you feel severely groggy, call your doctor or nurse. You may still be slightly nauseated or be uncomfortable due to pain at the surgical site. These are both normal, but call your doctor if there is excessive vomiting or pain. Here are other reasons to call your doctor:
- Infection at the surgical site
- Potential allergic reactions to medication
- Anything else that is abnormal following surgery
Relaxing and resting should be your top priorities once you arrive home. That’s right, now is the time to call in favors from friends and family! Let yourself be pampered and catered to for a few days as you recover. Pushing yourself to get “back on track” quickly may result in a setback that requires even more recovery time. If you have small children, ask someone to keep them or keep an eye on them during the first day or two so that you can sleep. Your body will need rest and nourishment to recover from any surgical procedure, no matter how minor it seems. Even if there are no complications following surgery, you will probably need to check in with your doctor for a follow-up appointment within a few days.
At St. Petersburg General Hospital, we perform many outpatient surgeries. For more information on finding a doctor, or questions on a procedure, visit us online or call our Consult-A-Nurse®at 727-341-4055.