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Recovering from brain surgery

It can take some time to recover from your surgery. Find out about long term problems and what help and support is available.

Immediate side effects

After your brain surgery you might feel worse than you did before. This can be depressing if you are not prepared for it. Brain surgery is a lot for your body to cope with. It might be a while before you feel the benefit from having your tumour removed. 

Brain surgery can cause swelling in the brain. Your surgical team monitor this closely and give treatment to reduce the swelling. But it might still cause symptoms such as:

  • weakness
  • dizzy spells
  • poor balance or lack of coordination
  • personality changes
  • confusion
  • speech problems
  • fits (seizures)

Your symptoms might be worse at first. And you may notice symptoms that you didn’t have before.

This can be a difficult time for your friends and relatives. They might worry that your operation has not worked. But symptoms usually lessen and disappear as you recover. Your nurse and doctor will explain that this is normal and part of the recovery period.

Your surgeon can give you some idea of what to expect in the way of recovery. For some people, recovery will be complete. You might be able to get back to the same fitness level you had before your tumour. For example, you may be able to go back to your job if you have one. You might need extra support from your employer at first.

Longer term problems

The position of the tumour might cause long term problems with speech or with weakness of an arm or leg. Some people recover fully, but this will take some time. Some people might not get back to exactly how they were before surgery. 

You get help and support from:

  • physiotherapists
  • speech and language therapists
  • occupational therapists and other rehabilitation specialists
Last reviewed: 
20 Oct 2015
  • Cancer and its management (7th edition)
    J Tobias and D Hochhauser
    Blackwell, 2015

  • Principles and practice of oncology (10th edition)
    VT De Vita, S Hellman and SA Rosenberg
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2015. pp1412-1455   

  • Treatment of Cancer (6th Edition)
    P Price and K Sikora
    CRC Press Taylor and Francis Group, 2015. pp1-33

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