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Having an operation

Recovering from surgery


Having an operation can be frightening for anybody.

If you are facing surgery and are not sure what to expect, you can get information from your surgeon, the pre-operative nurses at the hospital, or from your GP.

How long should I have off work?

As  rule of thumb you should not return to work until you feel well enough to do your job, and are able to do it without risk to yourself and others.

Work can be part of your recovery

Everyone needs time off to recover after an operation - but too much of it can stand in the way of you getting back to normal. In fact, by staying off for too long, people can become isolated and depressed.  Getting back to your normal work routine sooner rather than later canactually help you to recover more quickly.

Getting back to work

How quickly you return to work depends on a number of things:

  • How you heal
  • How you respond to surgery
  • The type of job you do

Can I drive after surgery?

Some operations have special rules about when you can drive again, and special rules cover those who drive for a living.  However you should not drive after any operation until you are physically able to do so. This includes a return to your normal vision, and alertness, and the ability to physically handle the car.

Before resuming driving, you should also be free from the sedative effects of any painkillers you may be taking. You should be comfortable in the driving position and able to safely control your car, including freely performing an emergency stop.  If in doubt, practise this in a safe place without putting the key in the ignition. If you feel pain, stop immediately. If you feel sore afterwards, wait for a day or two before trying again. It is advisable not to restart driving with a long journey.

Driving and heart operations

The law says that you must not drive for 4 weeks after a CoronaryArtery Bypass Graft; after that point, it’s up to you to decide in consultation with your GP when you are fit to drive. Your insurance company should be informed about your operation. Some companies will not insure drivers for a number of weeks after surgery, so it’s important to check what your policy says.

If you drive a Class 2 vehicle you are legally obliged to inform the DVLA in Swansea about your operation and must not drive for 3 months.

Click on this link for information about recovering from surgery.

Here you can also find some answers to popular questions, information about common operations including heart surgery, back surgery and cosmetic surgery.

Things that will help you to recover more quickly

Eat Healthily

Eating a healthy diet will help to ensure that your body has all the nutrients it needs to heal.

Stop Smoking

By not smoking - even if it’s just for the time that you’re recovering - you immediately start to improve your circulation and your breathing - not to mention a whole list of other benefits to the heart and lungs.

Family and Friends

Family and Friends can give you two important things:

  • Practical help with the tasks you might be temporarilyunable to do while you recover - such as driving, the weekly shop, orlifting heavier items.
  • Keeping Your Spirits Up - the novelty soon wears off being home alone all day, and it’s easy to feel isolated by this. Having company can help you to worry less. It’s important not to let anxiety set in, as it can become a problem in itself which stands in the way ofyou getting back to your normal routine.

Keep A Routine

Get up at your normal time in the morning, get dressed, move about the house. If you get tired, you can rest later.

Build Up Gradually

Have a go at doing some of the things you’d normally do, but build up gradually. Obviously, everyone recovers at a different speed, so not all of the suggestions will be suitable for everybody.

When you’re building up your activities, you may feel more tired than normal. If so, stop, and rest until your strength returns. If you feel pain, stop immediately and consult your GP or call NHS Direct.

Don’t sleep in - you can always rest later. Staying in bed can cause depression.

If you live alone, and you do not have family or friends close by, organise support in advance - have family or friends come to stay with you for the first few days after surgery if possible.

Fit Note

Should you require a fit note following an operation or admission to hospital, please ask the hospital team to provide you with one to cover your time in hospital and any necessary convalescence.



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