UT Health Physicians

Post-Surgery Care

Post-surgery care for lung and chest patients

Follow-up appointments

  • Your follow-up appointments are listed on your discharge summary.
  • Bring your discharge summary and all medications with you.
  • Call 210-450-0999 if unable to keep your appointment.

Medication list

  • Please review it carefully and take only the medicines that are listed unless instructed otherwise by a physician.

Wound care

  • You may shower and allow incision to get wet. Blot dry.
  • There is no need to keep the incision covered.
  • Do not soak the wound (i.e., do not take a bath or sit in a hot tub) until the wound is healed (usually two to three weeks).
  • Avoid application of lotions or ointments to the wound.
  • Eat a balanced, healthy diet to help your wound heal.

Pain management

  • Take your pain medication and try to cough and take a deep breath
  • Work with personal incentive spirometer at least three times per day
  • Do not try to be a hero and not take your pain medicines, because then you will not feel like getting up and walking and coughing and deep breathing = all things that hurt but also are important in your getting well.
  • If the pain does not improve or gets worse, call us.
  • Most pain medicines will cause constipation. It is easier to prevent it with prune juice or Metamucil than to wait until it becomes severe.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages while taking pain medicines.
  • Many pain medicines can cause drowsiness.

Activity do's and don'ts

  • No heavy lifting with the arm on the same side as the incision. Do not lift more than five pounds (about a gallon of milk).
  • Avoid any activity that requires your own strength or reflexes to keep either yourself or others out of harm’s way (e.g. driving a car, operating machinery, climbing up step−ladders, running across a busy intersection, swimming in the deep end of the swimming pool) for six to eight weeks from the date of surgery.
  • Walking is good! Do lots of walking, but do not find yourself tired and far away from help. Pace yourself and have someone with you.

Please check your incisions every day. If any of the following occurs, call 210-450-0999 and ask for the cardiothoractic surgery resident on call. For any life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1.

  • Swelling
  • Excessive tenderness
  • Redness; (a small non−tender rim less than 1/4" on edge of incision is probably normal)
  • Drainage (yellow or bloody, or any fluid with an odor)
  • Opening in the incision
  • Temperature above 101 degrees

Post-surgery care for esophageal patients

  • Restrict diet to soft foods for three months
  • No hard, sharp or crusty foods like peanut brittle, Dorito chips, hard tacos, crusty breads, etc.
  • No stringy foods like celery, fruits with skin (example apples, unless peeled)
  • Crush all medicines if possible or take in elixir form
  • Weigh at least twice weekly and record weights in a diary. Bring this information with you for your follow-up appointment.
  • Sit upright for all meals and for at least 30 minutes afterwards. Do not eat or drink two hours before bedtime
  • Continue night time feeds until seen in clinic for follow up if not taking PO well
  • Elevate head of bed 30 degrees
  • Flush feeding tube with 60 cc warm water every six hours
  • Do not put anything via jejunostomy except for feedings and flushes
  • You may shower and get incision wet after two days post-surgery
  • Do not soak wound in bathtub, swimming pool, or hot tub until healed (usually 4−6 weeks)
  • Do not drive or operate any kind of machinery or do any activity that requires your own strength or reflexes to keep either you or others out of harm’s way (e.g., do not try and cross a busy intersection, swim in the deep end of a swimming pool, climb ladders, etc.) for 6−8 weeks post-surgery

Please check your incisions every day. If any of the following occurs, call 210-450-0999 and ask for the thoracic surgery resident on call. For any life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1.

  • Redness or swelling
  • Drainage from wound
  • Swallowing becomes painful or difficult
  • Temperature above 101 degrees orally persists
  • Back pain or chest pain occurs out of the ordinary
  • Weight loss of five pounds or more in one week