Discharge / follow up

After your treatment, there are a number of things that can aid your recovery process. Here we provide useful and helpful aftercare information for once you've left hospital, as well as what to do if you feel unwell after you've been discharged.

Discharge - aftercare and information

  • If you feel unwell or have any concerns following your surgery, call the ward directly. If you experience continuous bleeding, sudden onset of shortness of breath/ difficulty breathing or chest pain, contact the emergency services immediately, by dialling 999.

    Inform our hospital nurse in charge of any emergency treatment you receive.

  • We will provide you with at least a three day supply of painkillers. You will be given instructions and general advice about the dose and any precautions you should take. Some patients may be charged a small amount for these medicines. If you need more than your initial supply of painkillers, you can buy Paracetamol and Ibuprofen from your local pharmacy. If you need other stronger painkillers, you must get a prescription from your GP. Take your painkillers as instructed throughout the day to keep pain under control and especially at bedtime. This will help you to get a good night’s sleep.

  • The medical term for stitches is sutures. Other methods used to close a surgical wound include metal clips or staples and adhesive dressings or tapes. Some stitches are dissolvable and don’t need to be removed by a nurse or doctor. If removal is necessary, we will make an appointment for you before discharge. Stitches, clips and staples are usually removed between three and 21 days after treatment, depending on the type of operation you have, and your consultant will advise on this.

  • The original dressing should be left in place and kept dry as advised by your consultant or nurse. If you need your dressing changed, contact the hospital who will give you advice on what to do. Don’t attempt to change your dressing yourself without prior instruction from the hospital.

    If your dressing gets wet or your wound is bleeding, contact the hospital. It’s important that the wound is kept clean to reduce the risk of infection and that the healing wound is not touched with your fingers. If you are instructed to change your dressing, wash your hands with soap and water before removing it.

  • It is usually possible for you to have a bath or a shower around 48 hours after surgery. Your nurse at the hospital will advise you if this is not the case, following your particular operation. Some general points are outlined below:

    • Showering is preferable to bathing
    • Try not to immerse or soak your wound for more than two to three minutes.
    • Don’t use any bathing products directly over the healing wound
    • Don`t rub the area as this will cause pain and might delay the healing process
    • Have someone in the house at the time of your first bath or shower for reassurance
    • Use a bath mat to reduce the chance of slipping.
    • Have a chair in the bathroom to sit on when you get out of the bath or shower
    • Dry the healing area carefully by patting it gently with a clean towel
    • If you had surgery on your face, don’t wear make-up over the scar until it has fully healed
    • If you have any concerns, contact the hospital or your GP
  • The time when you can return to driving depends on the operation that you have had. Ask your consultant for specific advice. You must be able to perform an emergency stop as well as cope with normal driving. Some insurers have specific restrictions – so check with your motor insurance company.

    You will not be able to drive or operate machinery for 24 to 48 hours after having a general anaesthetic or sedation. Make sure there is someone to take you home and stay with you for 24 hours following surgery. Some car insurance policies have their own guidelines regarding cover after anaesthetic/sedation so we advise that you also check with them.

DVT (deep vein thrombosis)

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms inside one of the veins of the body, usually in the legs. The risk of developing DVT is higher when people are unwell or less active than normal and it is a recognised risk of some types of medical treatment and surgery. Deep leg veins are the larger veins that go through the muscles of the calf and thighs. They are not the veins you can see just below the skin, nor are they the same as varicose veins.

    When you have a DVT, the blood flow in the vein is partially or completely blocked by the blood clot. If a blood clot (DVT) comes loose there is chance it could travel to the lungs. This is known as pulmonary embolism (PE) and can be life threatening. Although DVT is a recognised complication of some types of surgery, it is important to remember that most people are not affected.

  • There are a number of things you can do to help reduce the risk of DVT. These include:

    • Drinking plenty of fluids
    • Beginning to move around as soon as you can, taking into account any advice you have been given by your consultant, nurse or physiotherapist
    • Continuing with any exercise programme that has been recommended by your healthcare team
  • If you experience any of the following symptoms, particularly in one leg, let a member of your healthcare team know as soon as possible, as they may indicate a DVT:

    • Pain
    • Tenderness and swelling of the leg
    • Skin discolouration that is pale, blue or reddish-purple colour

    If the following symptoms occur following your discharge from hospital, you or a family member must contact the emergency services immediately by dialling 999:

    • Shortness of breath
    • Rapid pulse
    • Sweating
    • Chest pain
    • Sudden collapse

    Inform our nurse in charge if you have received any emergency treatment.