What happens after my operation?

After your operation, you will be transferred to the recovery area. When you have been assessed, you will be taken back to the ward and offered light refreshments.  You will need to rest on the ward for a minimum of one hour depending on the nature of your surgery and how you recover from the anaesthetic.

It is important to let the nurse know if you have pain or feel sick as soon as possible to prevent delayed discharge from hospital.

Prior to discharge:

  • Painkillers and other medication may be given to you to take home
  • Nursing staff will discuss your procedure/operation with you
  • Written post-operative care and advice will be given

When it is completely safe for you to leave the hospital, you will be allowed to go home.  We will contact your friend or relative to collect you.

When you are ready to go home, your friend or relative can park at main reception entrance where there is limited 20 minute car parking free of charge. They will need to collect you from the ward.

In order to ensure your safety after surgery you MUST be able to arrange the following

  • Access to a telephone and convenient toilet facilities at home
  • Someone to collect you in a car or accompany you home in a taxi when you are discharged from hospital. Public transport is NOT suitable.
  • A responsible adult to stay with you for 24 hours after surgery. Failing to have someone with you overnight may result in your operation being cancelled on the day

Important information for the person collecting you following day surgery »

At home after your operation

The effects of a general anaesthetic can last for at least 24 hours. Therefore it is advisable for you to rest and avoid undue strain until these effects have worn off, i.e. for the next 24-48 hours. It is normal following your operation to feel weak, sleepy or slightly dizzy. However, if you have any queries or concerns in the first 24 hours please contact the ward for advice.

If you have had a spinal or regional anaesthetic it is normal to feel some degree of impaired sensation, numbness or pins and needles afterwards. Occasionally, you may also develop a headache. Usually rest, simple painkillers and ensuring adequate fluid intake will be all that is required but if these symptoms do not resolve spontaneously or are getting worse over the 24-72 hours after the operation please contact the hospital switchboard on 01535 652511 and ask to speak to the on-call Anaesthetic Registrar.

You will need a responsible adult to be with you who can be relied upon to help with any hygiene and / or mobility needs that you may have. This may mean that your carer may have to take a day or two off work to care for you.

After discharge from the hospital, over the following 24 – 48 hours you must not:

  • Be left on your own for any length of time.
  • Undertake any domestic duties, cooking or operate machinery.
  • Drive a vehicle.
  • Look after or be responsible for any small / young children.
  • Consume alcohol as this can cause dizziness and vomiting.


Prior to your procedure we recommend that you have a supply of your usual painkillers at home. If you do not usually have painkillers we suggest paracetamol and ibuprofen are suitable post-operative pain relief.

You may have been given stronger medication on discharge to help relieve any pain after surgery. Please make sure that you take the correct dose on a regular basis. Anaesthetics can sometimes impair judgement; your responsible adult/carer should ensure that any medication is taken correctly.  If you have any queries or concerns please contact the ward for advice.

Eating and drinking

We encourage patients to drink plenty of water and non-alcoholic beverages to replenish any possible dehydration. You may not fancy anything to eat for the first few hours after returning home, there is no need for concern, but drink plenty of fluids. When you feel ready to eat, it is advisable that you start with a light meal, for example non-spicy soup or sandwich or an omelette.

Your discharge advice will explain how to care for your wound (if applicable) and what to expect. However, if you experience heavy bleeding, high temperature, swelling or severe pain please contact your own GP for advice.

Bandages or dressings

These should be kept clean and dry and left in place as directed by the nurse or surgeon.

If you have had limb surgery, please keep it elevated (on pillows or a foot stool) when resting for a few days post-op or as directed. This will help to reduce pain and swelling. Specific advice on how much you should use the limb will be given. If you need crutches or other aids, you will be shown how to use them safely by the ward staff. Some patients may be asked to reduce a bandage or replace a dressing after discharge. If you are not happy to do this let a member of staff know and they may advise you to visit the practice nurse for assistance with this.

Further appointments

Depending on your surgery, you may have stitches or clips that will need to be removed or a wound that needs re-dressing. The nurse will advise you regarding how this will be managed as part of your discharge advice. If you are to return to clinic, an outpatient appointment will usually come through the post with a date, time and place. Please note not every patient needs a follow-up appointment.

It is important to remember that people vary in their recovery after an operation. You must discuss with your relative/friend/carer how much support you will need from them following your surgery so that preparation can be made.