​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Back at Home

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Go to your nearest emergency department if you:​​

  • Have chest pain, tightness or significant shortness of breath.
  • ​Have "the worst headache of your life" that does not go away by taking pain medication.
How can I take care of myself when I go home?​


  • Your appetite and taste should return to normal within a few weeks. Your appetite will improve as you start to feel better and your activities increase. It’s common to lose weight after this surgery. You may never gain this weight back, but it’s important that you are eating enough.
  • Follow the special diet your dietitian gave you. Have smaller meals more often in the day. A large meal will not settle well in your stomach.
    • Remember to eat slowly and separate fluids and solids to prevent from filling up too quickly.
    • ​​​Make sure you drink enough fluids (at least 6 cups a day unless your doctor or dietitian gave you different instructions). Drinking water is good for you but does not have any calories to help maintain your weight. Try to drink other fluids as well. If you continue to have problems with your appetite, call your nurse coordinator and/or dietitian.

Bowel Movements

  • Diarrhea is common after this surgery. This is also called dumping syndrome. Your surgical team will talk to you about this. It sometimes helps to separate liquids and solids by 30 minutes, eat a diet with less processed sugars, and avoid dairy products.
  • If your pain medicines cause you to become constipated, drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor or dietitian gave you different instructions).
  • ​​Add bran, high fibre foods and prunes to your diet. Your doctor may prescribe you a mild laxative. If you still have problems, see your family doctor.


  • Don’t cover your incisions unless your clothes are rubbing on them. The J-tube will have a small dry dressing around it.
  • Don’t put lotions or creams on your incisions until they are completely healed.
  • ​There may be a ‟bump” along the incisions. It will decrease over 4 to 6 weeks. Most of your pain should be gone by 6 to 8 weeks after your surgery. The area around your incisions may feel numb. This is normal. It may last for many months or may not go away at all. But, it usually improves with time. The numbness may be worse on cold, damp days.


  • ​​You can shower once you get home. Use a mild soap, and let the water run over your incisions. Pat the incisions dry with a towel. Don’t rub. You can shower with the J-tube in. Dry around the tube and put a dry dressing or bandage on the site after your shower.


  • It is normal to feel tired and discouraged for several days or weeks after surgery. Feeling depressed is also common after this surgery. As you recover and improve your strength, this should improve. If you continue to feel depressed as you recover, please see your family doctor. If you are interested in joining our online Esophageal Cancer patient support group, let your nurse coordinator know.
  • ​After this surgery, you should not lie flat. This is because you will no longer have the valve between your esophagus and stomach and you will be at risk of aspiration. This is when the contents of your stomach (saliva, acid, food, etc.) come back up and into your airway/lungs. This can cause infection. You will need to sleep on a 45 degree angle forever. This can be achieved by a foam-wedge pillow, 6-inch blocks under the head of bed, or an adjustable bed.
  • Don’t swim, scuba dive or skydive after an esophagectomy. Putting your body in an up-side-down position increases your risk of aspiration (stomach acid or vomit getting into your lungs).
  • Don’t jog, do aerobics, or play sports like tennis or racquetball for 4 to 6 weeks.
  • ​You can play golf after 3 to 4 weeks.


  • ​You should expect to be off work for at least 4 to 6 weeks. Depending on your job, you may need to be off for 8 to 12 weeks and you may need to ease back into your work with lighter duties. Ask your surgeon when it’s safe for you to return to work.
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Heavy Lifting

  • ​No heavy lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling for 4 to 6 weeks. For example, this includes no vacuuming, carrying heavy groceries, or shovel​ling snow. You can lift up to 10 pounds (about 5 kilograms). Lifting more than this may stress your incision. Your surgeon will tell you when you can start regular activities.


  • ​You can start having sex whenever you feel more comfortable (have less pain and more energy). Choose positions that won’t put stress on your incisions.


  • ​Don’t drive until you are off all pain medicine. The pain medicine you are taking may make you drowsy. You must be able to fully move your arm and shoulder before you drive. This can take at least 2 to 3 weeks after surgery.
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  • ​Please check with your surgeon about traveling. We usually recommend you not travel by air for 2 to 3 weeks.
What help will I have at home after my surgery? ​

If your surgical team thinks you need homecare once you leave the hospital, arrangements will be made for you to receive services from Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) or another homecare agency. This will be set up for you before you leave the hospital so a nurse, dietitian or both can plan to visit you at your home. The nurse will help you recover by checking on your J-tube site, helping with your J-tube feeds and caring for any other dressings you may have. The dietitian will check your eating. If you have any questions about your homecare services, ask your nurse coordinator.

Talk to your surgeon or nurse coordinator if you are interested in being referred to the ELLICSR Cancer Rehabilitation and Survivorship program​ which can provide further support and tailored programs for dealing with issues related to exercise, nutrition, fatigue, and sexual health issues.

Wh​o do I call if I experience complications? ​

Call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Department​​ if you:

  • Have chest pain, tightness or significant shortness of breath.
  • ​Have "the worst headache of your life" that does not go away by taking pain medication.

Call your surgeon or the Esophageal Disease Rapid Assessment & Management Program (EsoRAMP) if you:

  • Have new redness or swelling around your incisions.
  • Have pus (yellowish or white liquid) coming from your incisions.
  • Feel increasing pain at your incisions.
  • Have a temperature higher than 38.5 °C or 101 °F.
  • Have diarrhea.
  • Have nausea or vomiting.
  • Continue to lose weight or your appetite doesn’t improve.
  • Have shortness of breath.
  • Cough out mucous that is yellow or green or has a bad smell.
  • ​​​Cough out fresh red blood.


To make or change appointments, call your surgeon's office.

Dr. G. Darling
Phone: 416 340 3121

Dr. A. Pierre
Phone: 416 340 5354​

​Dr. J. Yeung
Phone: 416 340 4800 ext. 6529​