Depending on the type of procedure you have undergone, your postoperative care and instructions will be different. The areas discussed below are the common issues that need to be considered after surgery.
After your stay in hospital, it is expected that you will be accompanied home by a carer and have this person staying with you or very close by for the first 24 to 48 hours, especially after a day stay or short stay overnight procedure.
Good pain relief is essential for you after your surgery. For many minor or less invasive procedures however, very little is needed beyond simple paracetamol (Panadol) and / or ibuprofen (Nurofen). This is especially the case for procedures such as gastroscopy and colonoscopy as they do not involve a skin incision.
For procedures such as hernia repair, gallbladder surgery and other minor operations, these simple medications will also be enough in most circumstances. In situations where stronger medications are needed, a plan will be provided for use of these tablets. Generally, stronger tablets can constipate you and should only be used if needed.
Each operation has different types of wounds. Generally, most dressings that you go home with are waterproof and can remain intact for some days afterwards. Depending on the type of wound and dressing, you will receive specific instructions on what to do with your dressing before you go home.
For most elective operations, it will not be necessary to go home on antibiotics. Generally, if any antibiotics are required, they are given through your drip at the time of your anaesthetic and are generally not needed after that.
On most occasions, showering will be possible the day after your surgery if a waterproof dressing is applied. If your wound is to be kept dry, you will be specifically advised of this before discharge.
Regardless of your operation, you should not drive for at least 24 hours after anaesthetic or heavy sedation (eg endoscopy and colonoscopy) and up to as long as one week after larger operations such as bowel surgery, hernia repair or cholecystectomy.
Your return to normal physical activities is usually determined by what sort of procedure you have had done. For endoscopy and colonoscopy procedures, you can return to normal activities within 24 to 48 hours depending on how you feel. For operations that involve incisions, you need to limit your activities to light duties (no lifting greater than 10kg) for at least a 2 to 3 week period or until you are comfortable if longer time is needed. Finally, specifically for hernia surgery, you will need to remain on light duties for approximately 6 weeks after your surgery.