In the recovery room, nurses will monitor your breathing and vital signs. You’ll have a facial mask or small tubes in your nostrils giving you extra oxygen until you’re fully awake.
You can expect to have some pain in the abdomen and the nurses will give you medication, usually in the form of an injection, to manage the pain. You may also have some nausea and vomiting, which can also be treated with an injection.
Once you’re fully awake and comfortable you'll be returned to the ward. The cannula in your arm will remain in place and you'll be given an intravenous drip until you're eating and drinking normally.
After a laparoscopic procedure you’ll usually be able to start drinking the same day, and gradually build up to a normal diet the day after surgery. If you had an open procedure the process will take longer because of the increased handling of the bowel.
Your pain relief after the operation will depend on the type of operation you’ve had and your personal requirements. In most case you'll be given strong tablets and an injection if required. Occasionally after open surgery you may be given a machine called a PCA (patient controlled analgesia), which allows you to press a button and deliver small doses of a drug, such as morphine, into a drip in your vein. The machine is programmed so you can’t give yourself too much.
Your wound could have stitches or clips and be covered with stick-on or spray-on dressings. The drain tube from your side may be removed the day after surgery. You’ll be helped to get out of bed and start moving as soon as you're able.
You may also be advised to perform breathing exercises (sometimes with the aid of a small machine) each hour, which will help to clear your lungs and prevent infection.
Avoid smoking after your operation to prevent coughing and chest infection.
Before discharge, you should be given instructions about what to expect over the following weeks. You should be clear on the following issues:
- Any changes to your diet
- Level of activity, including heavy lifting and returning to work
- Wound care and removal of sutures
- Follow-up appointments
- Any changes to your medication
You should also be told who to contact if you have any problems or concerns after your operation. As a guide, you should seek help if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Bleeding or offensive discharge from your wound(s)
- Fever and cold chills
- Pain that cannot be relieved by painkillers
- Swelling in the abdomen
- A yellow tinge to your eyes and skin