After Your Surgery

Initial Care

You will be taken to a postanesthesia care (recovery)unit where:

  • A nurse will connect you to a cardiac monitor and check your vital signs;
  • You may receive oxygen until you are awake;
  • Warm blankets will be provided;
  • Medication will be provided if you are having discomfort or nausea.

Once you are stable and comfortable, you will be transferred to post-op or to an inpatient bed. While you are in recovery, your physician will update your family or companion regarding your status. One visitor will be allowed to see you after you are awake.

Outpatient Surgery Post-Op

If you are a one-day surgical patient, the amount of time you need to stay in post-op after your operation varies, depending on the type of operation, anesthetic and your medical history. Before you are discharged, you will:

  • Be given your choice of water, juice or a soft drink;
  • Get up and walk a short distance, unless your operation or medical condition prevents you from walking;
  • Be given a discharge instruction sheet;
  • Be given any prescriptions your doctor wants you to take home;
  • Be instructed regarding follow-up care;
  • Be assisted to your vehicle if necessary.

If you are going home after surgery, you must have a responsible adult companion drive you home. You cannot drive yourself home after your operation. A bus or cab is not acceptable unless someone you know is with you. It is required that a responsible adult remain with you for 24 hours after your surgery.


If you choose, you may have your prescriptions filled at our Outpatient Pharmacy, located on the second floor. Having your prescriptions filled before you leave the hospital will save you a stop on the way home. This is a convenient, one-time service available to all surgery patients. If you think you may want to use the pharmacy, please bring your prescription card to the hospital with you. The pharmacy does require payment at the time the prescription is filled (cash, check or credit card).


Your visitation will be limited to one person. No children under age 18 are allowed in the post-operative area.

Managing Your Pain

Some people experience pain after surgery. If you do, your nurse will ask you to describe your pain. The nurse may ask:

  • Where does it hurt?
  • What does it feel like (sharp, dull, aching)?
  • How would you rate your pain on a 0-10 scale, 0 being no pain, 10 being the worst pain?

To help effectively manage your pain, our role includes:

  • Assessing and re-assessing your level of pain;
  • Teaching you and your family about pain;
  • Educating you and your family on safely using pain medications;
  • Lowering your pain level;
  • Supporting and assisting you in your pain management and available alternatives.

We use pain rating scales to help you answer the question, “How would you rate your pain?" Your nurse will describe this to you prior to your surgery. If you have any questions regarding pain management, please feel free to ask your doctor or nurse.

Recovering at Home

Written instructions will be given to you. However, here are some general reminders:

  • Limit your activities at home for at least 24 hours after your surgery.
  • Do not drive for at least 24 hours after your surgery, while taking narcotics, or until your doctor allows.
  • Introduce clear liquids into your diet first, then progress to solid foods as they are tolerated.
  • Take your medication as prescribed.

The medication you received during your operation may affect your memory and mental judgment for 24 hours following anesthesia. Your physician will give you specific instructions and restrictions regarding your activities following surgery. Be prepared to ask any questions you have about limitations after surgery.

Please contact your surgeon if you experience any of the following:

  • Fever over 100.5° by mouth;
  • Excessive bleeding from your wound;
  • Continued vomiting;
  • Inability to urinate;
  • Inability to have a bowel movement;
  • Inadequate pain management.

Questions at Home

If you have questions, problems or concerns related to your surgery, you may contact:

  • Your surgeon at his office number;
  • Sentara RMH Outpatient Surgery at 540-689-2800 during the hours of 6 a.m.- 10 p.m.

For after-hours emergencies, you may reach your surgeon by paging him through the hospital operator at 540-689-1000 or 877-689-1000.