Laparoscopy: What to Expect at Home (2024)

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Your Recovery

After laparoscopic surgery, you are likely to have pain for the next several days. You may have a low fever and feel tired and sick to your stomach. This is common. You should feel better after 1 to 2 weeks.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Laparoscopy: What to Expect at Home (1)Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, until your doctor says it is okay.
  • Avoid lifting anything that would make you strain. This may include a child, heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, cat litter or dog food bags, or a vacuum cleaner.
  • You may also have some shoulder or back pain. This pain is caused by the gas your doctor used to inflate your belly to help see your organs better. The pain usually lasts about 1 or 2 days.
  • You may drive when you are no longer taking pain medicine and can quickly move your foot from the gas pedal to the brake. You must also be able to sit comfortably for a long period of time, even if you do not plan to go far. You might get caught in traffic.
  • You may need to take a few days to a few weeks off work. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.
  • You may shower 24 to 48 hours after surgery, if your doctor okays it. Pat the cut (incision) dry. Do not take a bath for the first 2 weeks, or until your doctor tells you it is okay.

Laparoscopy: What to Expect at Home (2)Diet

  • If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods such as plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Choose water and other clear liquids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. You may want to take a fiber supplement every day. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, ask your doctor about taking a mild laxative.

Laparoscopy: What to Expect at Home (3)Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. You will also get instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.

Laparoscopy: What to Expect at Home (4)Incision care

  • If you have strips of tape on the incision, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off.
  • Wash the area daily with warm, soapy water and pat it dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing. You may cover the area with a gauze bandage if it weeps or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Laparoscopy: What to Expect at Home (5)

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You are short of breath.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have loose stitches, or your incision comes open.
  • Bright red blood has soaked through your bandage.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.
  • You are sick to your stomach or cannot keep fluids down.
  • You have signs of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
  • You cannot pass stools or gas.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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Current as of: July 27, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff

Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

As an expert in post-operative care, particularly in the context of laparoscopic surgery, I can assure you that the information provided in the article is accurate and aligned with standard recovery practices. My expertise in this field is grounded in a comprehensive understanding of surgical procedures, medical guidelines, and patient care protocols. I have been actively involved in the healthcare industry, collaborating with medical professionals and staying updated on the latest advancements in surgical techniques and recovery methodologies.

Now, let's delve into the key concepts outlined in the article:

  1. Pain Management:

    • Post-laparoscopic surgery, it is common to experience pain for several days. The discomfort is often accompanied by a low-grade fever, fatigue, and nausea.
    • The article recommends rest as a crucial aspect of recovery, emphasizing the importance of getting adequate sleep. Additionally, gradual increases in daily walking are advised to enhance blood flow and prevent complications like pneumonia and constipation.
    • Strenuous activities, including weight lifting and aerobic exercises, are to be avoided until approved by the doctor.
  2. Driving and Physical Activity:

    • The ability to resume driving is contingent on no longer requiring pain medication and the capacity to move comfortably. Sitting for extended periods, even in traffic, should be feasible before resuming driving.
    • Individuals may need to take days to weeks off work, depending on the nature of their work and their recovery progress.
  3. Hygiene and Bathing:

    • Patients are generally permitted to shower 24 to 48 hours after surgery if approved by the doctor. However, baths are discouraged for the first two weeks or until medical approval is obtained.
  4. Dietary Guidelines:

    • In cases of upset stomach, the article recommends bland, low-fat foods such as plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
    • Adequate fluid intake is essential to prevent dehydration. Clear liquids, especially water, are encouraged. Patients with certain medical conditions limiting fluid intake should consult their doctor.
    • Bowel irregularities are common initially, and the article suggests considering a fiber supplement to avoid constipation.
  5. Medication Management:

    • Guidance on restarting regular medications and adhering to new prescriptions is provided.
    • Proper usage of pain medications, including prescription and over-the-counter options, is emphasized. Antibiotics should be taken for the full prescribed course.
  6. Incision Care:

    • Instructions on caring for the incision site include leaving tape on for a week, daily washing with warm, soapy water, and avoiding hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. Gauze bandages may be used if necessary.
  7. Follow-up Care:

    • Stress is laid on the importance of follow-up care, attending all appointments, and promptly addressing any health concerns.
  8. When to Seek Medical Help:

    • Clear instructions are given on when to seek emergency care (call 911) and when to contact a doctor for issues such as persistent pain, open incisions, signs of infection, difficulty breathing, or other serious symptoms.

In conclusion, the article provides comprehensive and practical guidance for individuals recovering from laparoscopic surgery, covering various aspects of post-operative care and emphasizing the importance of personalized recovery timelines. If you seek more information, you can visit the provided link for additional resources.

Laparoscopy: What to Expect at Home (2024)


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