What to expect immediately after your operation.
After a local anaesthetic
If you only had a local anaesthetic to numb a small area of your body, you might be able to go home soon after surgery. If you also had sedation to make you drowsy, you need to arrange a friend or relative to drive you home.
Your nurse gives you any instructions you need to follow before you go. They'll tell you who to contact if you have any problems.
After a regional or general anaesthetic
If you had an injection to numb a larger area of your body (regional anaesthetic) or a general anaesthetic, you go from the operating room to the recovery room. You stay in the recovery room until you are well enough to go back to the ward.
While you are in the recovery area the nurses keep a very close eye on you. They check:
- your blood pressure, pulse and breathing rate
- your wound for any bleeding
- that you are comfortable and any pain is under control
- that any wound drains are working properly and they record how much fluid is draining from them
- that any drips are running at the right rate
Once you have recovered enough from the anaesthetic you go back to the ward. It's quite common for people not to remember being in the recovery area.
Some people who have had a big operation and need to have a very close eye kept on them go to a high dependency unit (HDU) or intensive care unit (ICU). If it's likely you'll need to go to one of these units, your doctor will tell you before the operation. You go back to a regular ward once you have recovered enough.