What to Expect After Open Abdominal Surgery

Day of Surgery

When you wake up, you should start your breathing and leg exercises. If you do not have a stomach tube down your nose, you may be allowed to drink liquids. You will be encouraged to sit in a chair and to take a short walk.

First Day After Surgery

If you have a stomach tube down your nose, it will probably be removed today. You will be given liquids to drink. Drink only what you can comfortably tolerate. If you feel nauseated, stop drinking for an hour or so, and try again later. Avoid carbonated beverages. Keep doing the breathing exercises. Walking is a simple and important exercise which helps your recovery. At least five times a day, you need to get out of bed and walk. This will reduce the muscle spasms, reduce your pain, help your breathing and improve blood flow in your legs. Use your pain medications to keep yourself comfortable and to help you walk.

Second Day After Surgery

If you still have a tube in your bladder, it will probably be taken out today. You may be allowed thicker liquids and probably solid foods later this evening. Drink or eat only what you can comfortably tolerate. If you feel nauseated, stop drinking and eating for an hour or so and try again later. If this does not help enough, ask for a medication to help your nausea. Avoid carbonated beverages. You may be started on pain pills. These work just as well as medications given into your vein, but take slightly longer to start working. Make sure to ask for your pain medications as soon as you feel too uncomfortable. Keep walking and doing your breathing exercises.

Third Day After Surgery

If you are tolerating oral liquids, your intravenous fluids will probably be stopped today. You will start some solid food. You will probably be on pain pills. Keep walking and doing your exercises. If you are doing very well, you may be ready to go home.

Fourth Day After Surgery

If you are doing everything from day three, you will probably be going home today. If not, do not worry. These are only guidelines about how things may go. Everyone is different and sometimes it takes a few more days before you are ready for discharge.

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