How can I expect to feel as I recover?

It takes time to heal and recover. Each person recovers at their own pace. How long it takes for you to recover depends on your age, health and attitude. Your family doctor can help you to manage any symptoms you may have.

Food and appetite
Your appetite should return to normal within a few days. It should improve as you start to feel better and your activities increase. If your appetite is poor, try eating smaller meals more often. Make sure you drink at least 6 cups of fluid each day (unless your doctor gave you different instructions). Try to eat high protein and high calorie foods. Soups, plain foods and light meals are easier to digest. If you continue to have problems with your appetite, call your family doctor.

Bowel upset
Constipation is a common problem when taking pain medicine. To prevent constipation:

  • Drink plenty of fluids (at least 6 cups a day unless your doctor or dietitian gave you different instructions).
  • Add bran, high-fibre breads and cereals, berries, dried fruit or prune juice to your diet (unless your doctor or dietitian gave you different instructions).
  • Your doctor will prescribe you a stool softener while you are taking the pain medicine. You may also use a mild laxative if you need one.

If you still have problems, see your family doctor.

How can I take care of myself when I go home?

  • You can gradually increase your activity when you get home. Go for a walk at least once a day if you can.
  • Keep your incisions clean and dry.
  • You don't have to cover your incisions. If your clothes are rubbing on your incisions, you can cover them with clean gauze.
  • 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. This may last a few weeks to a few 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, and you should shower each day. Use a mild soap, and let the water run over your incisions. Pat the incisions dry with a towel. Don’t rub.
  • You should expect to be off work for at least 4 to 6 weeks. Depending on your job, you may need to be off longer. Ask your surgeon when it's safe for you to return to work.
  • 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 can safely steer a car. This usually takes about 3 to 4 weeks after surgery.
  • No heavy lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling for 4 weeks. For example, this includes no vacuuming, carrying heavy groceries, or shovelling snow.
  • You can lift up to 10 pounds (about 5 kilograms). Lifting more than this may stress your incisions. Your surgeon will let you know when you can start doing your 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.
  • Wait 2 to 3 weeks before you swim. You can golf after about 3 to 4 weeks. Wait 4 to 6 weeks before you start jogging, playing tennis or racquetball, or doing aerobics. Talk to your surgeon before you do any skydiving or scuba diving. We don't recommend scuba diving after some lung surgeries.
  • Please check with your surgeon about travelling. We usually recommend you not travel by air for 2 to 3 weeks after your surgery.

When should I call my surgeon?

Contact your surgeon for any of the following:

  • 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 (101°F)
  • Have shortness of breath
  • Cough out mucous that is yellow or green or has a bad smell
  • Cough out fresh red blood
  • Have diarrhea often
  • Feel nauseous (feel like throwing up) or you are throwing up
  • Lose weight or continue having a poor appetite


Dr. M. Cypel
Phone: 416 340 5156

Dr. G. Darling
Phone: 416 340 3121

Dr. M. de Perrot
Phone: 416 340 5549

Dr. L. Donahoe
Phone: 416 340 4800 ext. 6529

Dr. S. Keshavjee
Phone: 416 340 4010

Dr. A. Pierre
Phone: 416 340 5354

Dr. T. Waddell
Phone: 416 340 3432

Dr. K. Yasufuku
Phone: 416 340 4290

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

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