General and Gastrointestinal Surgery

Pain and Discomfort

It is normal to have pain after your operation. Please remember that you have about a three inch incision through your navel that was used to take out the spleen.

  • Pain normally occurs in the abdomen, especially the left side, left flank and belly button area. In addition, shoulder pain often occurs for 24 to 48 hours because of the gas used to expand your abdomen.
  • You have been given a prescription for a narcotic: hydrocodone (Vicodin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) codeine. You can take one or two tablets every six hours. It is helpful to take some type of pain medicine (narcotic or over-the-counter) before getting but of bed and before going to sleep the first few days after surgery. Call the office immediately if you experience itching or a rash and stop the medication.
  • If your pain is not controlled by the medication you have been given, call the office.
  • If you don't like the drowsy feeling these medications cause or you no longer need as much pain medicine you can try aspirin, extra strength Tylenol or ibuprofen. The dosages are:
    • Ibuprofen (600 mg every 6 hours),
    • Tylenol (two extra strength every 6 hours), or
    • Aspirin (two every 6 hours)
  • Call the office if your incision is red, hot and tender-you may have an infection.
  • You have been given antibiotics in the operating room prior to surgery. Unless instructed otherwise, you do not need them after surgery.


Following your surgery you may notice alterations in your bowel habits. Diarrhea can occur from the surgery itself or from the antibiotics you received. This is best treated with Metamucil, Amphojel or yogurt. Constipation can occur from the narcotic pain medicine you are taking. To avoid this, take Haley's MO or Milk of Magnesia, as directed on the bottle, one time per day while you take narcotics. If you or your family were not informed of anything unusual after surgery, rest assured that everything is fine and went according to plan.