Immediately after your operation | Cancer Research UK
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Immediately after your operation

Nurse and patients talking about cancer

This page tells you about what to expect immediately after your operation.

If you have had a local anaesthetic you may be able to go home soon after surgery. Your nurse will give you any particular instructions you need to follow and tell you who to contact if you have any problems.

If you have had a regional anaesthetic or 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 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 will go back to the ward. It is 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 you need to go to one of these units your doctor will tell you before your operation. You will go back to a regular ward once you have recovered enough.


CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Surgery section.


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Updated: 20 February 2014