What to Expect at Home After Surgery

When your child is discharged after surgery, you will be given a sheet of written instructions with specific information about how to care for your child at home.  In addition, here is some more information about what you can expect once you're home. As always, if you have any concerns or questions about your child's recovery, please call your child's surgeon.


Most children do well after surgery. Your child may sleep more than usual for the first 24 to 48 hours after being discharged. He may also be unsteady initially, , but this too should resolve within 24 to 48 hours. Lifting and straining, i.e. carrying a backpack, will be restricted until your child's follow-up appointment. The same goes for playing organized sports.


Your child may start eating and drinking slowly. First, try clear liquids — such as water, ginger ale, apple juice and popsicles. As long as she doesn't vomit, try a light meal like soup, crackers or toast. Don't force your child to eat, but do encourage fluids to keep your child well hydrated.


Your child may have some pain, be cranky or run a slight fever. Acetaminophen, such as TEMPRA or TYLENOL, may be enough to keep your child comfortable. If your child needs a stronger or different medication, his surgeon or nurse practitioner will prescribe it.


A child's surgery is a difficult experience for everyone in the family, and your child may have trouble adjusting once he's home. Your child may temporarily behave differently from normal, with such problems as:

  • Sleep pattern changes
  • Clingy behavior
  • Eating changes
  • Hyperactivity
  • New fears — such as not wanting to sleep alone or needing a night light
  • Acting younger — such as bed-wetting or thumb-sucking

This behavior is temporary and normal. Here's how you can help:

  • Reassure your child that she's safe and well
  • Read books about hospitals and doctors
  • Play hospital
  • Distract your child with games, toys and music

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