General and Gastrointestinal Surgery

Postoperative Expectations

After surgery, you should expect the following:

  • Abdominal pain (where the small incisions were made) will develop 6 to 9 hours after the procedure.
  • Shoulder pain will usually go away in 24 to 48 hours.  The pain is caused by the carbon dioxide gas used to expand the abdomen so the procedure can be done. It is helped by lying with one's feet higher than one's head.
  • The absence of any heartburn or regurgitation should be noticeable immediately, even though you will not be on any medications for reflux postoperatively.  Occasionally, people will regurgitate what they swallow but that is related to the dysphagia; that is common postoperatively and will go away.
  • Burning during urination and/or an increase in frequency of urination is the result of the catheter that was placed into the bladder during the operation. It is not an infection. It will usually go away in a few days.  If you haven't urinated for 6 to 8 hours, let us know, as you may need the catheter reinserted for a few days. This is especially true in men.
  • A sensation of not being able to catch your breath is not cause for any concern, though the reason for this is not known.
  • Patients should only take small sips of liquids and not overdo it during the first 12 hours. You will not get any solid food until the morning after surgery. Breakfast will consist of cereal, scrambled eggs and other soft foods. At home, continue this diet of soft foods with no bread or red meat until returning to the office for a follow-up appointment. If you are doing well with the foods you are eating, you can experiment with foods of more consistency, but don't  be disappointed if you cannot eat anything solid. Dysphagia can be severe and last a few months.

Discharge from the hospital is usually 24 to 36 hours after the procedure. If you are not ready for discharge or not up to it, you will not be discharged.  Do not worry about early discharge.  Usually, patients are seen first thing in the morning by the residents and a laparoscopic surgery fellow.  They will report any problems to the surgeon. You can go home before seeing the surgeon if the resident and fellow have cleared the discharge. The surgeon will meet with you on the day after surgery if the you are still in the hospital.

What to expect at home 

Reflux Disease