General and Gastrointestinal Surgery

Pain and Discomfort

It is normal to have pain after your operation. How much pain you experience usually depends on the individual and not on the operation. Pain normally is located over the incision. 

You have been given a prescription for a narcotic: hydrocodone (Vicodin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) with codeine. You can take one or two tablets every six hours. If you experience itching or a rash, call the office immediately and stop the medication. 

If your pain is not controlled by the medication you have been given, call the office. It is helpful to take some type of pain medicine (narcotic or over- the- counter) before getting out of bed and before going to sleep the first few days after surgery. 

If you do not like the drowsy feeling these medications cause or you do not need this much pain medication, you can try aspirin. extra strength Tylenol, or ibuprofen.  The dosages are:

  • Ibuprofen (600 mg every 6 hours) 
  • extra strength Tylenol (two every 6 hours), or 
  • aspirin (two every 6 hours)

You should keep ice on the area of surgery for 24 to 48 hours.  This will minimize postoperative swelling and reduce pain.  There is no benefit to using ice after the first 48 hours.


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 is very common and results from the narcotic pain medicine you are taking.  To avoid constipation take Hailey's MO or Milk of Magnesia as directed on the bottle once per day while you take the 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.