Postoperative Instructions

How quickly someone recovers depends on the individual as well as the surgery that was performed. Here are some general guidelines:


  • It is recommended to take a week off of work so you have plenty of time to recover.
  • For the first few days after surgery, you will be more tired due to the effects of anesthesia. You may find that you need to take naps throughout the day. This is normal.
  • You will also have less energy so you should avoid any straining, lifting, or strenuous activity.
  • However, you should not sit on the couch or stay in bed all day. It is important to get up and walk around as soon as possible multiple times a day as this will help prevent complications.
  • You should avoid exercise in general for the first 2 weeks after surgery unless specifically instructed by Dr. Chen.
  • Sleeping with the head of the bed elevated around 30 degrees will help with swelling.


  • Anesthesia as well as pain medicine cause nausea frequently. This will get better day by day.
  • To avoid vomiting, it is recommended to start slowly, generally with clear liquids (water, apple juice, Jell-O, broth) and advance to more solid food as tolerated.
  • Once able to eat regular foods, focus on eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and protein.

Pain Control:

  • Some mild to moderate pain is to be expected after most surgeries. For some, depending on the procedure, there can be more significant pain, but it usually is most intense the first 2-3 days. After that, the pain usually improves quickly.
  • Please take ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) 400 mg AND acetaminophen (Tylenol) 500 mg together every 4-6 hours around the clock for the first 3 days as your primary modality for pain control.  If needed, you can continue this regimen for as many days as necessary until you no longer have pain.
  • You will be prescribed a narcotic pain medicine by Dr. Chen’s office for use after surgery as well.  Please take this medicine as directed for pain that is not controlled with ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
  • If despite following this regimen you are still experiencing pain, please call our office.


  • You should not smoke at least 6 weeks before or after surgery.
  • You may resume all of your routine medications after surgery.
  • To minimize bruising, take arnica montana daily starting 2 days prior to surgery and continue for a week after.

Wound Care:

  • Applying ice to your surgical sites in the first 3 days will help to minimize bruising and swelling. The more you do the better. Dr. Chen recommends applying ice for 3-5 minutes every hour while awake. A bag of frozen vegetables is ideal for this.
  • In general, unless specifically instructed not to, you are able to shower starting the day after surgery. Do not make the water temperature too hot as this can increase your changes of bleeding. Avoid scrubbing incision sites; instead let soapy water run over these areas.
  • Apply bacitracin antibiotic ointment to your incision sites 3 times a day.
  • You may develop some dried blood over your incisions. This can be removed by using cotton swabs and hydrogen peroxide to help dissolve the blood multiple times a day.