​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​After Your Operation

On this page, you can read all about what to expect during your hospital stay. Or, just click on one of the links below, to get the answer you want right now.

What will happen right after my operation?

In the Step-Down Unit in CVICU:

  • You will be attached to a heart monitor to check your heartbeat.
  • You may have an oxygen mask over your nose and mouth.
  • You will have an intravenous line (IV) through which you will be given medication.
  • A nurse will check your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing. The nurse will also measure the urine from your catheter.
  • A nurse will check your incision and blood flow in your legs.
  • ​If you are experiencing a lot of pain, there are special ways to control you pain such as PCA (Patient Controlled Analgesia) or epidural. Your doctors and nurses will talk with you about it.

After you recover in the CVICU, you will be moved to the Vascular Surgical Inpatient Unit​  to continue your care for the rest of your hospital stay.

Once you are in Vascular Surgical Inpatient Unit:

  • You will continue to get fluids and medications through your IV line.
  • You may have small tubes in your nose to give you oxygen.
  • You may have a small tube in your stomach to prevent you from vomiting.
  • Your catheter will drain urine from your bladder
  • ​A bandage will cover your incision until it is dry.
How will I feel after my operation?
  • ​​​When you first wake up, you will feel very sleepy. You may feel sick and not feel like eating for several hours.
  • You will have pain in and around your incisions. You also might feel aching in other areas including your back, arms and shoulders. Please ask your nurse for pain medications.
How can I take care of myself ​after my operation?
  • Change your position often while you are in bed to avoid pressure sores on your lower back and hips.
  • Do not put pressure on your heels for long when standing or lying down. Putting pressure on an area with poor blood flow can cause painful blisters that do not heal well. ​
  1. ​​ Movement and exercises
    • Do your deep breathing and coughing exercises to clear your lungs of mucous. This helps to prevent pneumonia.
    • It is important to move your legs and walk as soon as you can. This keeps the blood flowing in your legs.
    • A physiotherapist may visit each day to help you start moving and get ready to walk.​​
  2. Eating and drinking
    • You will not be able to eat or drink for at least 2 or 3 days after the operation to allow your stomach and bowels time to recover.
    • ​You will start with fluids and then eat and drink small amounts until you can return to your usual meals. ​
  3. Showering
    • You can have a shower 3 or 4 days after your operation. Gently wash your incision with soap and water. Rinse well and pat dry with a clean towel.​
  4. Manage your pain​​
    • ​You can expect to need pain medications every 3 to 4 hours for the first few days after your operation. Ensure that your pain is well-controlled so that you feel comfortable to move, do your breathing and coughing exercises, and other activities.
    • Pain medications can be given in different ways:
      1. Intravenous (IV) Patient Controlled Analgesic or PCA
        • A PCA pump delivers pain medication through your IV when you press a button. Only you should press the button.
        • Press the button:
          • when you start to feel pain.
          • before you do something that brings on pain.
          • before you do deep breathing and coughing exercises.
          • ​before you start to move or turn.
        • You should feel the effects of the medication within 2 to 3 minutes. If you do not feel any pain relief, tell your nurse.
        • The pump is set to give you a certain amount of medication every 4 hours. To make sure you cannot get too much medication, the PCA pump has a safety timer called a lockout. If you press the button during the lockout time, you will not get more medication.
      2. ​Epidural PCA
        • An epidural is a small tube placed in your back. A pump is attached to the epidural tubing to give pain medication in a continuous controlled dose. You may have the option of pressing a button to receive more pain medication if you feel it is needed. The epidural can provide excellent pain control for up to 5 days as needed.​
      3. Intravenous (IV) medication
        • Your nurse can give you pain medication through your IV. Tell your nurse when you have pain. Do not wait for the pain to get worse.​
      4. ​Medication by mouth
        • When you are drinking well, you may be given pain medication tablets to swallow. Tell your nurse when you have pain. ​​
How long will I stay in th​e hospital?

The average hospital stay is 6 to 8 days. Length of stay depends on many factors, including your overall health and how quickly you recover. The vascular team will discuss your recovery each day and help you prepare to go home.​

Before you go home, your health care team will:

  • Review your medications. Some may have changed during your hospital stay. You will get a prescription for medications that are new or changed.
  • Teach you how to take care of yourself at home and what warning signs to watch for and when to call your doctor.
  • Arrange needed care or services at home or in your community if needed.
  • Give you two copies of your discharge summary letter. Keep one for your records and give one to your family doctor.

​​​​​​Learn more about your stay

You should go home by 11:00 am on your day of discharge. Please arrange for your ride to pick you up by this time.

You will need a follow-up appointment. This appointment is usually made before you leave the hospital. If you don’t have a follow-up appointment, ask your health care team.

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