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Recovering from brain surgery

Men and women discussing brain tumours

This page tells you about recovering from brain surgery. There is information about

 

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Recovering from brain surgery

After any surgery, it is not unusual at first to feel worse than you did before the operation. After brain surgery, swelling can cause effects such as dizzy spells, weakness, poor balance and coordination, confusion, personality changes, speech problems and fits (seizures). These episodes can come and go. These effects will usually lessen and disappear as you recover. This may take only days. But it can take weeks or even months.

For some people, recovery will be complete. You may be able to get back to the same fitness level you had before, and return to all your usual activities and your job.

Because of the position of their tumour, some people have long term problems with speech or with weakness in an arm or leg. This can take a long time to recover from and you may never quite recover to the same level of fitness as before your treatment. But with effort and with help from speech therapists, physiotherapists and other rehabilitation specialists, you will get a lot better.

 

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The first few days and weeks

After any surgery, it is not unusual, at first, to 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. The swelling in the brain after the operation means it will be a while before you feel the benefit from having had your tumour removed.

 

After effects

After brain surgery, it is not uncommon to have dizzy spells or to get confused about where you are and what is happening to you from time to time. These episodes can come and go. They can be upsetting for your relatives and also for you. Your nurse and doctor will explain that this is normal and part of the recovery period.

The operation itself can often make your symptoms worse at first. Or you may notice symptoms that you didn’t have before. The swelling can cause

  • Weakness
  • Poor balance or lack of coordination
  • Personality changes
  • Speech problems
  • Fits (seizures)

This time can be particularly difficult for your friends and relatives. They may worry that your operation has not worked. But the symptoms will usually lessen and disappear as you recover. This may take only days. But for some people it can take weeks or sometimes months.

Your surgeon will give you some idea of what to expect in the way of recovery. For some people, recovery will be complete. You may be able to get back to the same fitness level you had before your tumour. And you may be able to go back to all your usual activities before long, including your job if you have one.

 

Longer term problems

Because of the position of their tumour, some people have long term problems with speech or with weakness of an arm or leg. This can take a long time to recover from. It may be hard for you to keep your spirits up through this time. But with effort and help from physiotherapists, speech and language therapists and other rehabilitation specialists, you will usually get a lot better.

Your rehabilitation will start as soon as you can get out of bed. You will gradually be able to do more and more for yourself. You may never quite recover to the same level of fitness as before your treatment. But your condition can and will improve to some extent.

Your confidence will increase as you learn to cope with the changes that the tumour and surgery have caused. There is information about recovering after a brain tumour in the living with a brain tumour section.

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Updated: 27 December 2013