Common post-surgery questions

September 24, 2023 Post-Hospital Care

Common post-surgery questions

The post-operative period is a critical phase in a your journey towards recovery, where the right support team plays a crucial role in ensuring the best outcomes. From managing pain and monitoring for complications to providing emotional support and guidance, the presence of a knowledgeable and compassionate post operative nursing care team becomes paramount. Each person, whether it be your surgeons, nurses, or care team, contributes uniquely to your recovery journey, ensuring that you receive the comprehensive care needed for a successful recovery.

What are the after effects of anesthesia?

Anaesthetics consist of a number of medicines that can cause side effects in some people. Your anaesthetist will tell you about any side effects you may experience after having a specific type of anaesthetic and measures that will be taken to reduce these.

Some common side effects that can occur after a general anaesthetic or some regional anaesthetics include:

  • feeling or being sick
  • dizziness, fatique and feeling faint
  • feeling cold or shivering
  • headaches
  • itchiness
  • bruising and soreness
  • difficulty peeing
  • aches and pains

The after effects of anaesthesia usually do not last very long and, if necessary, some of them can be treated. Inform the healthcare professionals treating you if you experience any of the above side effects, or if you’re in pain after your procedure.

What is the most painful day after surgery?

Begin taking your prescribed painkillers as soon as you get home from your operation.  Take them regularly for the first 4 days before weaning off them as your pain allows. Many patients receive a nerve block to minimise pain during and after their operation – this often begins to wear off overnight, so it is important that you have painkillers on board before going to bed. After some operations, Non-Steroidal-Anti-Inflammatory drugs (e.g. Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Indomethacin and Diclofenac), should be avoided.  If it’s relevant, this will have been made clear to you.

How to reduce swelling after surgery?

There are a number of things you can do to manage post-surgical bruising and swelling. The following suggestions should only be followed under the guidance of your surgeon given not all approaches may be suitable for individual
patients or surgeries.


After surgery, you may be wearing a compression garment when you wake from the anaesthesia, particularly following a body contouring procedure. This compression accelerates the healing by minimising swelling and increasing the circulation to the vital area. Generally speaking, compression garments are initially worn night and day (unless showering or bathing), with the recommended period of wear decreasing as healing progresses.


As a rule, you should aim to elevate the treatment site periodically or as recommended by your surgeon. Doing so encourages fluids to drain away from the wound area, thereby limiting bruising and inflammation. After facial surgery, it is likely you will be asked to sleep propped up on an extra pillow or two for this reason.

Avoid heat

For the first couple of weeks after surgery, you should avoid excessive heat including hot baths or showers as the heat can promote swelling. Similarly, saunas and steam rooms are also off limits until your surgeon advises you otherwise. Ice pack, on the other hand, is a great tool to deal with swelling.

Hydration and nutrition

Ensure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and you will give your body a head start in the healing process. Maintaining healthy hydration levels will help your body to flush out toxins, whilst also reducing any bruising or swelling after surgery.

Maintain a healthy diet and limit your sodium intake- consuming salty foods can increase postoperative swelling and should be avoided during your recovery. Greens, eggs, and yoghurt are excellent sources of vitamin K which is a great component to reduce swelling.

How do I plan for recovery after surgery?

Planning for recovery after surgery involves several essential steps. Firstly, consult your doctors thoroughly  to understand the procedure, expected recovery timeline, and any specific instructions. It will then be beneficial to arrange support from friends or family members to assist with daily tasks, prepare your home environment accordingly for comfort and safety and stocking up on necessary supplies, including medications, wound care items, and nutritious foods.

What professionals can help post surgery?

A variety of healthcare professionals play different crucial roles in providing support and assistance to facilitate your recovery.

  • Surgeons oversee the surgical procedure and may offer guidance on post-operative care and potential complications.
  • Registered nurses closely monitor your vital signs, administer medications, and provide wound care.
  • Anaesthesiologists manage pain control and monitor your condition in the recovery room or ICU.
  • Physical therapists help you regain your mobility and strength through exercises and techniques.
  • Occupational therapists assist in restoring independence in daily activities
  • Dietitians offer nutritional guidance tailored to your post-operative needs.
  • Psychologists or counsellors provide emotional support.
  • Respiratory therapists assist in maintaining optimal respiratory function.
  • Social workers address social, emotional, and practical concerns, ensuring comprehensive care and support throughout the post-operative period.

What to eat after surgery?

Post-surgical diet and nutrition in the days, weeks, and months after your medical procedure can affect your healing and recovery. Eating the right foods—and avoiding the wrong foods—can keep you healthy while preventing complications like constipation and postoperative infection.

Eat whole foods

When stocking up before your surgery or getting back to shopping after surgery, take a look at your regular diet and see if there are any positive changes you could make. This may include eating more whole (real) foods. An easy way to find whole foods is to search the aisles at the far ends of the grocery store. Most whole foods are in the produce and lean meat sections. Whole foods are far preferable to foods to processed foods which tend to be high in sugar, salt, and fat and low in fiber.

Processed foods may also contribute to inflammation, which could slow healing. Your surgery could provide the extra incentive you need to make lasting changes to your eating habits. Eating whole foods supports your good health during recovery and every day after.

Dealing with constipation

Constipation is common after bowel surgery, but it can also happen after any surgical procedure. One reason is that prescription pain medications sometimes used after surgery—especially opioids—can slow bowel movements and create hard-to-pass stools. Being constipated can also reduce your appetite, increase your pain level, and put stress on surgical incisions. These factors can get in the way of your healing.

Eating plenty of nourishing foods after surgery helps your body recover, supports wound healing, and prevents constipation. With that said, you should check with your provider about the specific foods you can and cannot eat based on your surgery and general health. In general, focus on whole foods, and avoid processed foods that are low in fiber and high in sugar and saturated fat. Even if you have no appetite, you can maintain optimal nutrition by eating smaller, calorie-dense meals rather than sitting down for three large ones you cannot finish.

How can I get rid of gas after surgery?


  • Watching your diet to see if any food makes the condition worse, and avoiding these foods. Some common foods that can make bloating worse include beans, lentils, fermented foods and beverages including vinegar and alcohol, plus food rich in sulphur (eggs, onion and garlic), and raw foods.
  • Milk may even cause excess bloating and flatulence, particularly in people who are lactose intolerant
  • Avoid eating too much fat in a meal
  • Avoid swallowing air whilst eating and drinking
  • Ensure you chew your food thoroughly and eat slowly
  • Avoid fizzy / carbonated drinks (soft drinks, soda water and beer)
  • Avoid chewing gum and smoking
  • Avoid eating just before bed time
  • Try eating smaller meals more often

Relief of discomfort

If the above measures do not help, you may like to try:

  • Regular exercise, particularly gentle exercise after meals
  • Over the counter preparations such as peppermint capsules, WindEze, Charcoal type medication, Beano dietary supplement (alpha galactosidase) are available from pharmacies.  These medication types can help absorb gas or prevent its formation and reduce bloating.

We stress that these measures may help but are not guaranteed to do so. If you are concerned about persistent symptoms it is essential you discuss your problems with your surgeon or GP.

Why am I so tired after surgery?

Do not be surprised if you feel fatigue after surgery, especially if you have had a major operation or a general anaesthetic. You should only do as much as you feel able to in the days after your operation. But it’s important to try to move around as soon as possible and follow your doctor’s advice on getting active again. This will encourage your blood to flow and your wounds to heal, and will build up strength in your muscles.

Generally, try to get back into your regular routine as soon as possible. Use this as an opportunity to make a fresh start: to eat well, exercise to stay in shape, and quit smoking if you smoke. If you have a dressing on the area operated on, follow the instructions your nurse gave you to care for your wound at home.

How can Cavendish Homecare help?

Cavendish Homecare provides specialised private home care nursing throughout London and the South East. Our high quality homecare services included are varied and range from post-operative homecare and palliative care to live-in care homecare and even holiday care support . If you or someone you know is scheduled for an operation but would like to continue treatment in the comfort of their own home, our strong long-standing relationships with both the NHS and private hospitals allows us to provide you with a smooth seamless transition of care from hospital to home until full recovery is achieved.

We work with discharge teams, doctors and other health professionals to ensure you receive the highest quality of care at your home. If you require, or know a friend or family member that might needs support post-surgery in their home, get in contact.