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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

You might be able to go home soon after surgery if you only had a local anaesthetic to numb a small area of your body. You need to arrange a friend or relative to take you home if you also had sedation to make you drowsy.

Your nurse gives you any instructions you need to follow before you go. They tell you who to contact if you have any problems.

After a regional or general anaesthetic

You go from the operating room to the recovery room if you had an injection to numb a larger area of your body (regional anaesthetic) or a general anaesthetic. 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 might regularly check:

  • your blood pressure, pulse and breathing rate
  • your wound for any bleeding
  • that you are comfortable, and any pain is under control
  • how much fluid is draining from your wound drains
  • that any drips into the bloodstream 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). Your doctor will tell you before the operation If you had an injection to numb a larger area of your body (regional anaesthetic) or a general anaesthetic. You go back to a regular ward once you have recovered enough.

Surgery for your cancer type

Surgery is different for each cancer type. You can find more detailed information about what happens during and after surgery on our cancer type pages.

For support and information about surgery, you can call the Cancer Research UK information nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.