General Post-Operative Instructions

Please review these instructions BEFORE surgery. These instructions apply to patients having surgery under general anesthesia. Obviously, more extensive procedures require more care and recovery time. Remember that everyone heals in a different manner and your individual progress will differ from that of others.


  • Carefully review the enclosed instructions regarding medications, supplements, and herbal products, most of which should be stopped two to three weeks prior to surgery. 

  • You must arrange to have someone pick you up. It is impossible to predict the exact time of discharge so please bring the name and phone number of the person picking you up, and give it to the receptionist/nurse when you check in.

  • You may need to stop at a pharmacy on your way home from the hospital for medication, so bring your insurance and/or charge card. 

  • For general anesthesia, it is preferable to have an adult in the house with you for the first day or two after surgery.

  • Organize your post-operative schedule to eliminate any strenuous activity, especially picking up heavy objects (children, groceries, luggage, etc.) for the first 2 weeks post-op.

  • You will be cleared for airplane travel 24 hours after discharge from the hospital.

  • If you have not scheduled your post-op visit, please call the office to do so.

  • Eat lightly the night before surgery and do not have anything to eat or drink after midnight. 


  • Expect moderate pain, discomfort, swelling, bruising, and numbness. These usually peak within a few days and then gradually subside over the 2 to 4 weeks. The numbness takes a bit longer to subside, typically around 12-16 weeks for full sensation to be restored.

  • Sleeping on your back with your head elevated on two or more pillows will reduce swelling.

  • Begin with a soft, light diet and drink plenty of fluids (especially if you have had general anesthesia).

  • Do not smoke or drink alcohol until cleared by your doctor.

  • Keep ice compresses (zip lock bags filled with crushed ice or frozen peas) on for the first 48 hours. After the first two days, they should be applied as much as possible during the first week after surgery in 15 to 20 minute intervals. 

  • Keep your head above your heart. If you have to pick up something, bend at the knees. Do not pick up heavy objects for 14 days.


  • Pain medication may be prescribed at discharge; take only as instructed by your physician. You may take Extra-Strength Tylenol for minor discomfort. Do not take any Aspirin products.

  • You may be given antibiotic ointment to apply to your incisions; apply as instructed. 

  • There may be some bleeding at the site of your incisions.


  • Stitches are usually removed after approximately 12-14 days.

  • Depending on the type of surgery you had, you will probably appear pale, bruised, and puffy for the first few days or weeks. You may apply moisturizer or makeup to skin, but keep products away from your stitches.

  • Do not resume your regular exercise until cleared by your physician; usually about 2 weeks after surgery.


  • Pain that does not respond to medication

  • Increased bleeding, swelling, or bruising

  • Increased redness along incisions

  • An oral temperature above 100.4 degrees

  • Yellowish or greenish drainage or a foul odor from your incisions

  • Adverse side-effects to medications, such as nausea, rash, or vomiting