After your surgery

Everything you need to know about post-surgery

After your surgery, you will need time to recover. You will not be able to return to your usual activities immediately, but we do encourage you to review the information below that provides tips on what to do after your surgery for a steady recovery.

If you are not an ERAS patient and have been provided with different instructions from your surgeon or care team, please follow your surgeon or care team’s orders. If you don’t know if you are an ERAS patient, please consult with your surgeon.

After surgery, there are a few things you can do to help heal and feel better sooner:

  • With the help of your health care team, start walking on the evening of or morning after your surgery. Even small strides like getting up and taking a few steps or going to the washroom helps.
  • Practice breathing exercises. This helps to clear the anaesthetic from your lungs and keep you from getting any lung infections.
  • Take your pain medication prescribed by your doctor. This will help you perform exercises without discomfort.
  • Work with your health care team to control nausea.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids. This helps your digestive system to get back to normal.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. This will help your digestive tract to work normally again.

See the activity chart below, taken from the Enhanced Recovery after Surgery (ERAS) booklet, to help you be successful in doing the exercises. If you are not an ERAS patient and have been provided with different instructions from your surgeon or care team, please follow your surgeon or care team’s orders. If you don’t know if you are an ERAS patient, please consult with your surgeon.

Activity chart showing activity and food graphics for days after surgery

After your surgery, your care team will work with you to track your progress. The team will make sure:

  • You don’t have severe or unmanaged nausea or vomiting
  • You can eat and drink
  • You are passing gas or have had your first bowel movement
  • You are passing urine well
  • You are progressing towards normal mobility including walking and climbing stairs in alignment with your recovery plan
  • Your material needs at home including equipment has been discussed with you
  • Please arrange for your transportation home by 11 a.m., unless otherwise directed by your surgeon
  • To answer any questions, you may have including common questions like:
    • What type of care will I have to provide for myself at home?
    • When will I be able to return to my regular activities (work, lifting, driving, exercise, etc.)?
    • Will I need any medication like antibiotics or pain killers?
    • What can I do to help with my recovery?
    • Will I have any drains or other tubes when I leave the hospital?
    • Will I need any special items to care for my surgical site?

When your health care team decides that you are ready to leave the hospital, they will write discharge instructions to help you recover and keep you safe at home. You will receive written instructions known as your After Visit Summary (AVS), providing instructions on how to care for yourself during your recovery.

Upon discharge, you may receive a prescription for pain medication. We recommend that you fill your prescriptions before you leave the hospital so that you have it when you arrive home. We have an in-house pharmacy, PureHealth Pharmacy, located at Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital and Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital. 

Please speak to you care team to ensure you are booked for a follow-up appointment with your surgeon after you are discharged.

Managing your pain - It is normal to have pain after surgery. As you heal, you will feel less and less pain. To help with your pain:

  • Take Acetaminophen, 650 mg every four hours while you are awake.
  • Two hours later, take ibuprofen, 400 mg every four hours while you are awake.
  • Alternate between acetaminophen and ibuprofen while you are awake.
  • Apply ice to the spots where you feel the pain. Place ice in a Ziploc bag, wrap the bag in a towel before you put it on your skin. Keep the ice on your incision for 15 minutes every four hours.

Please note, you may receive a prescription for narcotics. These can be helpful if the acetaminophen and ibuprofen do not work to control your pain. Please return any unused narcotic medications to your pharmacy once you have recovered.

If you receive instructions from your surgeon or care team that are different from the above listed ones, please follow your surgeon or care team’s orders.

Diet - If your surgeon or dietitian provides you with a special diet, it’s important you make sure to follow it.  If not, please maintain a healthy diet that will allow you to recover sooner – eat fruits and vegetables, and drink plenty of fluids. These prevent constipation if you are on pain medication. Alternatively, you can ask your doctor if you can take laxatives. Additionally, Canada’s Food Guide is a great resource for healthy eating recommendations, recipes and tips.

Wound care -You can remove your surgery dressing 48 hours after you go home. You may also shower at this time. Do not soak in a tub or swim for two weeks. To dry the incision area - PAT DRY only - do NOT rub.

To keep your incisions clean and protected from bacteria, they’ll be covered with steri-strips. These will fall off as you continue to shower. If they are still on seven days after you go home, you can gently take them off in the shower.

Activities - For six weeks after your surgery, do not lift anything over 20 lbs. and do not shovel snow. Do not strain your muscles. Do light activities such as walking or climbing a flight of stairs if you can. If you have pain while doing any activity, stop and change your exercise to a lighter activity.

If you have any of the symptoms listed below, call your surgeon or go to the nearest Emergency Department:

  • Fever (temperature greater than 38°C or 100°F)
  • Constant nausea, vomiting or bloating
  • Stomach pain that’s not improving with your pain medication
  • Increasing pain at your surgical incision
  • Redness, swelling, odor or pus at your surgical incision
  • Bright red blood from your anus
  • No bowel movement when you get to seven days after your surgery

Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital

10 Trench St.
Richmond Hill, ON L4C 4Z3
Local to Richmond Hill: 905-883-1212
Local to Vaughan: 905-832-4554
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Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital

3200 Major Mackenzie Dr W
Vaughan ON L6A 4Z3
Local from Vaughan: 905-417-2000
Local from Richmond Hill: 905-883-1212
View the map for this location