Laparoscopy Recovery
What To Expect After Laparoscopy

Laparoscopy recovery is quicker with less complications compared with open surgery. See what to expect as you recovery from such a procedure; when you can start eating, go back to work and resume other normal activities.

Recovery after a laparoscopic surgery is usually straightforward.

Laparoscopy recovery is quick and smoothier than open surgery recovery.

This is because there is less damage to your tissue during such minimal access procedure or investigation, smaller entry wound size (the cut on your skin), less risk of infections, less handling, pulling and pushing of the bowels, and less risk of blood clot, even in the obese.

Whether you are having a laparoscopy as a test to take a look at your internal organs only, or for the purpose of removing or correcting a problem, the recovery process is roughly predictable.

From laparoscopic hysterectomy, appendectomy, hernia repair, ovarian cyst surgery, to laparoscopy for endometriosis and more, the following are what to expect after.

What To Expect During Recovery From Laparoscopy

Nausea

  • Most cases of laparoscopy are done under general anesthesia, where you will be put to sleep completely. 
  • The medicines used to put you to sleep as well as the pain killers used may be morphine based. As you start waking up from the effect of the anesthesia, they could make you feel drowsy, light-headed and nauseated.
  • If the procedure involved your bowels, handling of your bowel with the instruments could make your bowel "go to sleep" for a few hours, making you feel nauseated too.
  • Because of this, it is likely that you will be kept in the recovery room until the effect of the anesthesia wears off from you.
  • You may be given an anti-sickness injection or tablet like metroclopromide or cyclizine or ondesantrone to help control your feeling of nausea. If you feel nauseated during your recovery from laparoscopy and you become uncomfortable from that, feel free to call your nurse or doctor and tell him or her how you feel so that you get an anti-sickness medicine.

Shoulder Tip Pain

  • About 2 to 3 liters of a special gas called carbon dioxide is pumped into your abdomen to expand it and allow space for manoeuvrings during laparoscopy.
  • After laparoscopy, this gas floats up and stay under your diaphragm as you seat, stand up or walk. It causes irritation of the diaphragm, leading to shoulder pain. This pain is typically worse a day after the surgery and could last for another 2 to 3 days before it gets absorbed and gets out of the body.
  • It is a very common symptom seen during laparoscopy recovery.
  • The use of simple pain killers, like paracetamol or acetaminophen, lying flat or taking peppermint oil helps with this shoulder pain seen after laparoscopy.
  • Very rarely, blood under the diaphragm after a laparoscopic procedure could also cause shoulder pain.

Abdominal Pain Or Cramps And Bloating

  • Pain around the small cuts on your abdomen where the probes where placed is very common during laparoscopy recovery.  The worse one tends to be the wound on or near your belly button, though any of the entry site could become more painful
  • There could also be abdominal cramps, especially if your bowel was prodded during the procedure
  • Any of these pain should get better within 2 to 3 days and with the use of pain killers
  • If you develop severe abdominal pain at any time after your laparoscopy, it is best you call your doctor immediately at let him or her know
  • Pain around your laparoscopy or keyhole surgery wound site after day 5 or 7 is usually due to an infection. You should seek help if this happens to you.
  • The gas pumped into the abdomen, as well as handling of bowels could cause bloating after laparoscopy, lasting for a few days. The use of peppermint oil could help here too.

Eating

  • After a laparoscopy, you should be able to resume eating within 4 to 6 hours in most cases, especially if your bowels were not cut or stitched
  • If your laparoscopy involved bowel resection, must people are able to start by taking sips of water the same day of the next, and if tolerated, are able to start taking liquid meal by day two and resume solids a day after, if they are able to keep food down
  • A balanced diet is the most suitable diet for you after a laparoscopy. You do not necessarily need to go a bland food devoid of carbohydrate or fat or protein
  • It is best to avoid an overly oily meal or too spicy dish during a laparoscopy recovery.

Going Home

  • Most laparoscopic surgery are done as a day case, meaning you should be able to go back home within a 6 to 8 hours after the procedure
  • If that were not possible because of the complexity of your operation or test, you should be able to go home the next day in a vast majority of cases
  • If you have fever, or bleeding or in severe pain, you must not go home without letting your surgeons know.

When To Remove Stitches

  • After a laparoscopic procedure, absorbable stitches are increasingly used to secure the wound or cut on the skin of the abdomen. Such stitches are best left to dissolve by themselves
  • This usually happen by day 7 to 10
  • If a non-dissolvable (non-absorbable) suture is used, it can often come out between 2  to 10 days, depending on the size of the wound and preference of the surgeon
  • As a general rule, most sutures - whether absorb-able or not should come out by day 5, if no instruction was given
  • If there is any redness or swelling at the site of the stitches, it is most likely due to infection, and you must let your healthcare provider know immediately
  • Are your incisions itching after laparoscopy? If is normal and a sign that the site of the operation is healing, provided there is no increasing pain or swelling or redness or discharge, indicating infection.

Going Back To Work

  • After a laparoscopy, you should be able to go back to work within a week or two. The average recovery time to enable reasonable resumption of moderate work is 10 days.
  • You must not lift heavy objects or strain yourself for another 2 to 4 weeks, to avoid your developing hernia from the site of operation
  • If your work involve heavy manual labour, you may require 4 to 6 weeks for full recovery
  • If in doubt, please speak with your surgeon or endoscopist.

Driving

  • In most countries, you should be fine to drive once you are fit enough to do an emergency stop after a surgery
  • Generally, after most endoscopy surgery, you should be able to drive within the first one week.
  • If in doubt, ring both your surgeon and  car insurance company or family physician and motor insurance company.

Sex

  • Sex after laparoscopic surgery can resume as soon as you feel comfortable with it.
  • For many, they are able to start sexual intercourse within the first week or two without any problem.
  • During this period, it should be done carefully to avoid significant straining and pain
  • Vigorous sex should wait till the 4th to 6th week

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