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Postsurgical Checklist

Call Your Doctor If You Have:

  • Increased pain

  • Drainage, redness, or swelling around the incision

  • A fever over 101.0°F

After surgery, you can recover quickly and safely at home. Help your body heal by staying comfortable, taking care of your incision, eating well, and resting. Also, know when to call your healthcare professional if a problem arises.

Use the checklist below to remind yourself what to do after surgery. Be sure to follow any specific post-op instructions from your surgeon or nurse.

Follow-up care is an important part of a successful surgery. Your doctor needs to know you're healing and see that you're recovering safely. Ask when to return for your first follow-up visit.

Incision Care

  • Your doctor will tell you when it’s safe to shower. Until then, keep the incision dry.

  • Watch for signs of infection. Signs include increased redness, swelling, smelly discharge, or drainage from the incision.

Pain Management

  • Take your pain medications as directed, before pain becomes too severe.

  • Don’t take medication more often (overdose is dangerous) or less often (which is less effective).

  • Taking pain medication at night can help you get a good night’s rest.


  • Do not drive until your surgeon tells you that you can.

  • Ask your doctor when it’s safe to return to your regular level of activity. Work up to your former level of exercise slowly so you don’t get overtired or stress your surgical site.

  • Wait 7 days before you return to work.

Follow-Up Appointment

  • My follow-up visit is scheduled for:


© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.