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After appendicitis surgery, you will remain sedated and under anesthesia for some time, recovering in a special unit known as the post anesthesia care unit (PACU). Your stay in PACU will be brief — typically a few hours until the effects of the sedation has worn off. After you are fully conscious and awake, you'll be moved to a regular hospital room, where you most likely will be given pain medication. For the first 24 hours, you will be closely monitored for signs of post-operative infection. Barring complications, you'll be sent home to recover in about a day or two.
An appendectomy is a relatively common surgical procedure, however, as with any type of operation, there are risks for post-operative complications. If your surgery involved removing a ruptured appendix, your care after appendicitis surgery may be more involved. You may also have a slower recovery time, requiring a longer hospital stay.
Under normal circumstances, you can expect to be given a liquid diet for the first 12-24 hours following your operation. This may include clear broth, fruit juices, and plenty of water. Assuming these are well tolerated, you may then be offered solid foods. Typically, within the next 48 hours, you can return to your normal diet.
You can also expect to have mild to moderate discomfort or pain after having appendicitis surgery. Your physician will prescribe pain relieving medication to help with this. You may need to take this medication for several days.
In most cases, after appendicitis surgery, the doctor will encourage some type of physical activity soon after the procedure. Usually this will occur within the first 12-24 hours. This generally means you will be allowed to get out of bed and walk around a little bit. Before doing so, however, the nurse will check to be certain you have not developed a fever. It is common to have a mild temperature after surgery, so don't be alarmed if your temperature is slightly elevated.
Once released from the hospital, your care after having appendicitis surgery will continue at home. You'll be instructed to change your bandage daily and check for signs of infection. This would include any red streaks around the surgical site, or any discoloration. If you notice pus draining from the wound, sutures that have opened, or unusual bleeding, notify your health care provider promptly.
At home after appendicitis surgery, you will also need to monitor your temperature to be certain you have not developed a fever. Increased pain should be reported to your physician. This may indicate complications.
For the first week after appendicitis surgery, you may be instructed to refrain from strenuous physical activity. Depending upon what type of job you have, you may also be advised not to return to work for several days to a week. If your job involves lifting or other labor work, you may not be able to return to work for 10-12 days.