General Surgery Post-Operative Instructions

The following instructions will provide helpful information that will assist your recovery.

These are designed to be general guidelines. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact CNOS at (605) 217-2667. The phone nurse is available between 8am and 5pm Monday-Friday.

After hours and holidays – call Unity Point – St. Luke’s operator at (712) 279-3500 and ask for the CNOS doctor on call to be paged.

We believe that everyone recovers differently and no question is a dumb question. We are here to help.

Post Op Things to Keep In Mind

Pain Medication

  • You will be given a prescription for a pain medicine after surgery.
  • Do not drive or operate heavy machinery while taking pain medication.
  • Do not take pain medication on an empty stomach. This may cause nausea.
  • If you no longer need your prescribed pain medication, you may take over the counter pain medication such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (Ibuprofen) for pain- if you could take these medications before surgery.
  • Reminder- Hydrocodone, Norco and Lortab contain Tylenol, so do not take additional Tylenol while on these pain medications.
  • Ice (wrapped) may be helpful for pain or swelling. Just leave on only 20 minutes at a time.


  • Use a laxative (such as Milk of Magnesia or Miralax), if having problems with constipation. Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Rocking or walking can help return bowel function back to normal.
  • Stool softeners such as Colace can be helpful.


  • If at all possible, have someone available to help you the first few days.
  • Going up stairs is not a problem, but start slowly.
  • Listen to your body and rest when you are tired.
  • Do not lift anything heavy (over 10 pounds) or as directed by your physician.
  • Do not drive a motor vehicle; operate machinery or power tools for 24 hours or while taking pain medications.


  • Slowly advance your diet as directed by your physician over the next day or two.
  • Maintain hydration and good nutrition for healing.
  • Do not drink alcohol in the immediate postoperative period while taking pain medication.
  • Refrain from smoking. Smoking or second hand smoke constricts your blood vessels and elevates blood pressure which can slow down the healing process. It can also increase your chances for pneumonia and blood clots.

    Wound Care

    • If you have a clear see-through bandage over the incision, you may take a shower. The bandage is waterproof.
    • The clear see-through bandage may be removed after 3 days. It is ok to leave it on until first post-op visit with your physician.
    • If you have a gauze bandage over the incision, you may remove it in 48 hours. At that time you may shower.
    • If you have narrow white tape strips over the incision (steri-strips), keep them dry for 48 hours. Do not remove them (if you remove them sooner, you risk pulling the incision apart). You may shower over steri strips and pat them dry.
    • Staples or sutures are generally removed in 7-14 days.
    • Many incisions will have absorbable stitches, which do not need to be removed.


    • Showers should be quick (5 minutes long).
    • Do not soak in the bathtub until instructed by your doctor.

    Drain Care

    • If you have a drain, record the time and amount of drainage on a piece of paper. Empty the drain as needed. The nurse will explain how the drain works before you are discharged from the hospital. Bring the record to your appointment with your surgeon.

    Follow Up

    • Please make your follow-up appointment by calling the office or as instructed by your physician. Most appointments are for 7-14 days following your surgery. It is very important to keep this appointment- even if you are feeling good.