Recovery and rehabilitation

If you’ve had general anaesthesia or an opiate pain medication, you may feel different for 2 or 3 days, including fatigue or difficulties with your memory. You shouldn’t drive and drink alcohol if this is the case. Also, try to avoid making big and important decisions. No specific rehabilitation is usually needed unless you have other health problems.


Your surgeon may recommend a high-fibre diet because it will reduce your need to strain while having a bowel movement.


Increase your activity slowly. Try to get up and walk every hour during the day to reduce your risk of blood clots. Don’t lift items heavier than 5kgs or take part in strenuous activity for 4–6 weeks.

Going back to normal activities

You should allow 1–2 weeks to return to work and other normal activities. If your job involves heavy lifting, you’ll need 4–6 weeks off.

Wound care

Always wash your hands before and after touching the area near your incision site. You can shower after the second day unless your surgeon tells you not to. Don’t soak in a bathtub until your stitches, Steri-Strips® or staples are removed.

If you’ve been told by your surgeon to change your wound dressing at home, follow their instructions and keep in mind that a small amount of drainage from the incision is normal. Your discharge letter, as well as a conversation with your surgeon, should say when and where your stitches or staples should be removed.

Scar healing

Your scars will heal in about 4–6 weeks and will become softer and continue to fade over the next year.

Pain management

Pain is different for each person. Your anaesthetist will prescribe or recommend pain medication. If you have a sore throat from your tube used during anaesthesia, you can use throat lozenges.

Following a laparoscopic (keyhole) procedure, pain or discomfort is often felt in your shoulder. This is due to the gas inserted into your abdomen during your procedure. Moving and walking helps to decrease the gas and the shoulder pain.

Follow up

Your surgeon will tell you how soon to have your stitches or staples removed and your GP may remove them for you. You’ll need to make a follow-up appointment with your surgeon, probably after 4–6 weeks, to check on your results.

Watching out for problems

Call your surgeon immediately if you have:

  • severe pain
  • stomach cramping
  • chills or a fever
  • a bad odour or increased drainage from your incision
  • a dressing soaked with blood or pus
  • no bowel movements for 3 days.

Important information

Information is provided by HCF in good faith for the convenience of members. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of any form of treatment nor is it a substitute for medical advice, and you should rely on the advice of your treating doctors in relation to all matters concerning your health. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however HCF takes no responsibility for any injury, loss, damage or other consequences of the use of this information.