Pinterest tag

What to expect after surgery

Day of surgery

Activity

  • You will be helped to a chair and sit for two hours.
  • You will walk the day of your surgery.
  • You may be asked to walk from your surgery bed to your hospital bed when you get to your room.

Diet

  • You will have a diet of clear liquids. This may include water, clear broth or bouillon, Gatorade®, Jell-O®, Popsicles®, coffee or tea (without milk or cream), fruit juices without pulp, such as apple or white grape.
  • If you are tolerating clear liquids, you may be given small amounts of solid food.
  • You will have a nutritional supplement to drink.

Medicines

  • Your doctors and nurses will work with you to help you manage your pain.
  • You will also receive acetaminophen (Tylenol®) to help control your pain.
  • You will be given anti-nausea medicine to help prevent nausea.

Treatments

  • You will get IV fluids the first night after your surgery.
  • The nurse will check your temperature, breathing, pulse and blood pressure.
  • A pulse oximeter sensor will be placed on your finger. The sensor will record the amount of oxygen in your blood.
  • You will wear leg compression devices to help with your circulation.
  • You will use an incentive spirometer one time every hour while you are awake. Take 10 breaths each time you use it.
  • Be sure to take deep breaths and cough every two hours.
  • You may receive integrative therapies (such as acupuncture or massage) if they are available at your hospital.

Day one after surgery

Activity

  • You will be up with help to walk at least four times or more during the day.
  • You may take a sponge bath with help.

Diet

  • You will have clear liquids and either a full liquid or regular diet as tolerated.
  • You will receive nutritional supplements to help you heal.

Medicines

  • You will receive pain medicine as needed.
  • You will also receive acetaminophen (Tylenol®) to help control your pain.
  • You will be given anti-nausea medicine to help prevent nausea.

Treatments

  • Your IV fluids will be stopped if you drink enough liquids.
  • The urinary catheter may be removed. If it is, the nurse will measure your urine.
  • The nurse will check your temperature, breathing, pulse and blood pressure.
  • A pulse oximeter sensor will be placed on your finger. The sensor will record the amount of oxygen in your blood.
  • You will wear leg compression devices to help with your circulation.
  • You will use an incentive spirometer every two hours while you are awake. Take 10 breaths each time you use it.
  • Be sure to take deep breaths and cough every two hours.
  • You may receive integrative therapies (such as acupuncture or massage) if they are available at your hospital.

Taking sips of warm peppermint or ginger tea may help with any nausea after your surgery.

Day two after surgery

Activity

  • You will be up with help to walk at least six to eight times during the day.
  • You may take a shower. (If you have an epidural, this will need to be removed first.)

Diet

  • You will have a full liquid diet or regular diet, as you can tolerate.
  • You will receive nutritional supplements to help you heal.

Medicines

  • If you had an epidural, it may be stopped. Tell your nurse if you need more pain medicine. 
  • You will also receive acetaminophen (Tylenol®) to help control your pain.

Treatments

  • Your dressing may be changed or removed.
  • The nurse will check your temperature, breathing, pulse and blood pressure.
  • You may receive integrative therapies (such as acupuncture or massage) if they are available at your hospital.

Day three after surgery

Activity

  • You will be up with help to walk at least six to eight times during the day.
  • You may take a shower. (If you have an epidural, this will need to be removed first.)

Diet

  • You can have a regular diet, if tolerated.
  • You will receive nutritional supplements to help you heal.

Medicines

  • You will be given pain medicine to take by mouth to help control your pain.

Treatments

  • Your dressing may be changed or removed.
  • The nurse will check your temperature, breathing, pulse and blood pressure.
  • You may receive integrative therapies (such as acupuncture or massage) if they are available at your hospital.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Understanding Your Colon or Rectal Surgery, can-ah-95399
First Published: 01/24/2013
Last Reviewed: 08/15/2017