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After surgery

Find out how you’ll feel after your surgery, possible problems after surgery and your follow up appointments.

When you wake up from your operation

After your operation you will wake up on the ward. Wards are busy and often noisy places that some people find strange and disorienting. You'll feel drowsy because of the anaesthetic and painkillers.

Tubes and drains

When you wake up, you may have several tubes in you.  This can be frightening, so it helps to know what they’re for.

You may have:

  • a drip to give you fluids usually through a vein in your arm
  • a small wound drain to drain any blood or fluid if you’ve had a radical prostatectomy
  • a tube into your bladder (catheter) to measure how much urine you pass.  

The catheter stays in for a couple of weeks if you’ve had a radical prostatectomy.  After removal of the inner part of the prostate gland (TURP) it stays in for a couple of days.  Sometimes you need the catheter to stay in place for a while after you go home. Before you leave hospital your nurse will show you how to look after it.

You may also have an oxygen mask on.

Painkillers

It’s normal to have pain for the first week or so. You have painkillers to help.

Tell your doctor or nurse as soon as you feel any pain. They need your help to find the right type and dose of painkiller for you. Painkillers work best when you take them regularly.

Immediately after surgery you might have painkillers through a drip into the bloodstream that you control. This is called patient controlled analgesia (PCA).

Or you might have painkillers through a small thin tube that is put into your back. This tube is connected to a pump that gives you a constant dose of painkiller. This is called an epidural.

You get painkillers to take home. Follow the instructions your nurse gives you about how often and when to take them. Contact your doctor if you still have pain or if it gets worse.

After keyhole surgery you will only need painkillers to take by mouth.

Eating and drinking

Your team will let you know when you can start eating and drinking again. 

Your wound

After a radical prostatectomy, you have dressings over your wounds. You have 1 wound if you had open surgery. You may have several smaller wounds if you had keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery. After a couple of days your nurse changes the dressings and cleans your wounds. 

Your stitches or clips stay in for at least 10 days. The nurse usually takes them out before you go home.You can go home with the stitches in if your wound is still healing and you are otherwise well. The practice nurse, district nurse or hospital nurse then takes them out. This might be at home, at your GPs, or you may need to go back to the hospital.

Before you go home the nurse gives you information about how to care for the wound.

Getting up

Your nurses and physiotherapists help you to move around as soon as possible. They check you’re doing your breathing and leg exercises. This helps you recover.

You might be sitting in a chair within 12 hours of your operation. The day after, you’ll be walking around your bed. And within a few days you’ll be able to walk along the hospital corridor.

Making progress

During the first few days after your operation, you’ll start to feel better. The drips and drains will come out, you’ll start eating and can move about better.

You’ll begin to feel like you’re making progress.

Most people go home about 3 to 7 days after an open radical prostatectomy.

After robotic surgery you will go home within 24 to 48 hours.   

Going home

You’ll need help when you first go home. The dietitian will talk to you and your family about what to eat. It can take some time to find what works for you.

You’re likely to feel very tired for several weeks and sometimes months after your surgery. It helps to do a bit more every day.

Try:

  • sitting for less time each day
  • walking around the house a bit more each day
  • building up to walking outside

What you can do depends on how fit you were before your surgery and any problems you have afterwards. Talk to the physiotherapist or your doctor if you’re unsure about what you should be doing.

Contact your doctor or specialist nurse if you have any problems or symptoms you’re unsure about.You’ll have follow up appointments to check your recovery and fix any problems. They’re also your opportunity to raise any concerns you have.

Follow up

You’ll have follow up appointments to check your recovery and sort out any problems. They’re also your opportunity to raise any concerns you have about your progress.

Your first check up is around 6 weeks after your operation. Then you have one every 6 months for 2 years. Then once a year after that.

Last reviewed: 
18 Jun 2019
  • Principles and practice of oncology (10th edition)
    VT De Vita, S Hellman and SA Rosenberg
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2008

  • Optimal pain management for radical prostatectomy surgery: what is the evidence?
    Grish P. Joshi1 and others.
    BMC Anesthesiology, 2015. Volume 15

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