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Immediately after your operation

Knowing what to expect immediately after your operation might make it less stressful. 

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 take 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 regaional 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 regularly check:

  • your blood pressure, pulse and breathing rate
  • the wound (for any bleeding)
  • that you are comfortable and any pain is under control
  • your wound drains and they record how much fluid is draining 
  • 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 a big operation and need more regular checks 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.

Information and help

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About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.