5 Things to Expect after Pancreatic Surgery


Your pancreas is a vital part of your body, but it can also be a troublesome part. In the year 2014 over 40,000 deaths occurred due to pancreatic cancer and over 48,000 people were diagnosed with this cancer. Many times when a problem with the pancreas arises pancreatic surgery is needed. This can be an overwhelming experience that can leave you scared and feeling alone, but you are not. A team of medical professionals including your pancreatic surgeon and nurses will be there to guide you through the surgery and the recovery process. Here are a few things you can expect.

Hospital Stay

You can expect the hospital say following pancreatic surgery to be around three to ten days. Your pancreatic surgeon will discuss the anticipated length of your hospital stay with you as they are discussing the problems with your pancreas and the need for surgery. During your stay a medical team with closely monitor your organs, including your liver and your colon and address any concerns. There will be a variety of medical professionals visiting your room throughout the day and your pancreatic surgeon will visit with you at a minimum of once per day.

Pain Management

Pain in the area of surgery is common after this procedure. If the pain is extremely bothersome speak with your pancreatic surgeon. Pain medicine will be administered during your hospital stay. Once you are discharged pain management will consist of oral medications which will be prescribed to you.

Dressing and Bandages

You can expect to have staples and bandages following your surgery to close the incision which was made. There may also be drainage tubes to help drain excess fluids. The medical professional team caring for you will check your bandages and tubes on a regular basis and clean the incision site and change the bandages. You might be sent home with the drainage tubes still in place, this is normal. Your discharge instructions will include care instructions for the drainage tubes. Your drainage tubes will be removed during one of your postoperative visits.

Food and Beverages

You will have to go a few days after your surgery before you are allowed to eat due to a condition which temporarily paralyzes your stomach. You will be given intravenous fluids to keep you hydrated. There is no specific time frame to tell how long stomach will remain like this it is just a matter of time. Patients usually must try to eat to see if the condition is resolved, and if not they must go a few more days before trying again. This is a frustrating process, but it is also perfectly normal. You will remain in the hospital until you can tolerate eating and drinking, however it can still take several weeks for your digestive system to return to optimum functioning.

Diet at Home

Your pancreatic surgeon will discuss diet with you while you are in the hospital. They will keep on track of your stomach issues and how well you are tolerating food. They will send you home with instructions for your diet once you leave the hospital. Typically this will include many small meals throughout the day, rather than three large meals. This will help your stomach fully digest the food without overworking it. Foods should be high in protein to protect muscle mass until you are fully healed.

Many times when people hear the word pancreatic surgery they get scared. This surgery can be a scary ordeal, but that doesn?t mean you have to go at it alone. Together with your pancreatic surgeon you can educate yourself on the process and what all is involved. Pancreatic cancer is a serious cancer, being the eight most common form in women and the fourth most common in men. Pancreatic surgery is vital to improve the quality of life for those suffering from pancreatic problems, so don’t let fear hold you back. Work closely with your pancreatic surgeon to ease your fears and get you back to living a healthy life.

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