What Is the Recovery Time for Appendicitis Surgery?

Appendicitis surgery recovery time varies among individuals but typically takes about six weeks. Recovery from a laparoscopic appendectomy is quicker than healing after open surgery, which usually requires a hospital stay.

You'll need to take it easy for a few days after an appendectomy. You shouldn't drive or work for at least 48 hours after surgery. Your surgeon will let you know when you can return to work.

You'll also be advised to refrain from strenuous activity, exercising, and lifting anything heavy for at least a week—longer if you had open surgery. You may tire more easily, and it can take up to six weeks before you are fully healed.

How to Relieve Gas After a Laparoscopic Appendectomy
 Verywell / Jessica Olah

This article discusses appendicitis surgery recovery time, including how long you may in the hospital. It provides a recovery timeline and when you can return to work or school following an appendectomy. It also explains pain management, incision care, and when to call your surgeon.

Appendectomy Recovery Timeline

How long it takes to recover after appendicitis surgery depends on a few factors. Overall it should take about six weeks. Recovery from an open appendectomy is usually more difficult than a laparoscopic procedure.

A minimally invasive laparoscopic appendectomy involves three small incisions. Open surgery requires a 2- to 4-inch incision in the lower abdomen, including the abdominal muscles.

Regardless of the type of procedure, it can take 48 hours for the effects of anesthesia to wear off completely. You may feel groggy for a few days after surgery. Do not drive, drink alcohol, work, or make any big decisions for at least two days following an appendectomy.

You can also expect to tire more easily for at least six weeks after the procedure. You may need more sleep during this time.

Follow your surgeon's instructions for wound care, bathing, and resuming normal activity and exercise. Don't forget to make a follow-up appointment for two to three weeks after your appendectomy or as otherwise advised by your healthcare provider.

Recovering at the Hospital

Recovery from an appendectomy begins in the recovery room after surgery. Here you will be monitored for a few hours before either being admitted or discharged.

How long you need to stay in the hospital after an appendectomy will depend on a few factors. You may be discharged the same day as surgery or need to stay for a few days.

After Laparoscopic Appendectomy

People who undergo an uncomplicated laparoscopic appendicitis surgery may be discharged from the recovery room.

Prior to discharge, you will need to be able to:

  • Drink: You should be allowed to drink clear liquids within a few hours of surgery.
  • Eat: Once liquids are tolerated, you can begin eating solid foods.
  • Walk: You'll be encouraged to get up and walk a few hours after laparoscopic surgery.

Once these milestones have been met, you will be discharged from the hospital.

Gas Pain Is Common After Laparoscopic Appendectomy

During laparoscopic appendicitis surgery, carbon dioxide is pumped into the abdominal cavity. This can cause gas pain for a few days following surgery. To ease gas pain and release trapped gas:

  • Sip warm water with lemon or peppermint tea
  • Move your legs and torso or walk

After Open Appendectomy

An open appendectomy will require a hospital stay. You will be admitted at least overnight and may need to stay for a few days. You'll be connected to an IV for fluids and appendicitis medication for at least the first night.

When you wake up from surgery, you may have a thin plastic tube through your nose. This tube goes into your stomach and is used to remove stomach fluids and air that you swallow. Once your bowels are working normally, the tube will be removed.

You won't be able to eat or drink until the tube is removed. At that point, you can start with small sips of clear fluid. If that goes well, you'll progress to soft foods and, finally, a regular diet.

You'll also be encouraged to get up and walk the morning after surgery and several times each day before you're discharged. You may need pain medication at first because your abdominal muscles have been cut and will take time to heal.

Activity and Exercise

In the days following surgery, make sure you get up and walk around every hour or so during the day to prevent blood clots. You should increase your activity gradually.

Your surgeon will let you know when you can resume your normal activities after an appendectomy. Avoid lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds or participating in strenuous activity for: 

  • Laparoscopic: at least three to five days
  • Open surgery: at least 10 to 14 days 

It can still take several weeks before you will be cleared to participate in more strenuous exercise. Listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself too hard too soon.

Returning to Work or School

You will likely need to take a few days off of work or school following an appendectomy. Your surgeon will let you know when it is safe for you to go back to work following appendicitis surgery.

How soon you can return to work will depend on the type of work you do. If your job is physical and requires heavy lifting, you may be out for a few weeks. If you work at a desk, you can likely return to work as soon as you feel up to it.

Children can typically return to school one to two weeks after surgery. However, they will need to be excused from gym class, sports, and physical games for two to four weeks after an appendectomy.

Wound Care

Laparoscopic appendectomy incisions are typically closed with small sticky bandages called Steri-Strips. Open appendectomies are usually closed with stitches or staples and covered with a sterile bandage to prevent infection.

Your healthcare provider will give you instructions on caring for your incision. In general, you want to keep the area clean and dry.

Always wash your hands before and after touching the incisions. Avoid wearing tight or rough-textured clothing that could irritate the incisions.

You should be able to shower after the second postoperative day. Avoid soaking in a bath or pool until after the Steri-Strips fall off (a week to 10 days) or the stitches or staples are removed at your follow-up visit.

It is normal to have some watery drainage from the incision as it heals in the beginning. If the drainage is thick and yellow, contact your surgeon's office.

It can take four to six weeks for the incision to heal. Protect the new skin and keep it out of the sun, which can cause an appendectomy scar to darken. The scar should soften and fade over the next year.

Managing Pain

Follow your surgeon's instructions for managing pain after an appendectomy. It may help to use a pillow as a splint over your abdomen. 

If your pain is mild, take over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers as needed. These include: 

  • Advil (ibuprofen)
  • Aleve (naproxen)
  • Aspirin
  • Tylenol (acetaminophen)

If you’re experiencing moderate or severe pain, take OTC pain relievers on a regular schedule. Your surgeon may recommend alternating between Tylenol and Advil throughout the day. 

In some cases, you may leave the hospital with a prescription for opioid painkillers. Common opioids prescribed after surgery include OxyContin (oxycodone), Percocet (oxycodone with acetaminophen), or codeine.

Opioids are very effective pain relievers. However, they are highly addictive and should only be when necessary. Opioid side effects can also be significant and include:

  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Impaired thinking skills
  • Nausea
  • Poor respiratory function
  • Urinary retention
  • Vomiting

Note: Percocet also contains acetaminophen and should not be taken with other sources of acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) as liver damage can occur.

When to Call Your Surgeon

Your healthcare provider will advise you to watch out for signs of infection and other problems. Call your surgeon's office if you experience any of the following:

  • Abdominal pain, cramping, or swelling
  • Difficulty breathing, constant coughing, or shortness of breath
  • Fever greater than 101 degrees with or without chills
  • Increasing pain around the incision site after the third day
  • Loss of appetite or inability to drink or eat
  • No bowel movement or unable to pass gas for three days
  • Redness, swelling, bleeding, or drainage from the incision site
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Watery diarrhea for more than three days

A Word From Verywell

An appendectomy is one of the most common emergency procedures, with more than 250,000 performed in the United States each year. Research shows both open and laparoscopic appendectomies have low rates of long-term surgical complications.

As long as you follow your healthcare provider's instructions to take it slow and ease into strenuous activity, odds are good you will make a full recovery and be back to your old activities soon.

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. John Hopkins Medicine. Appendectomy.

  2. American College of Surgeons. Appendectomy.

  3. SAGES: Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons. Appendix removal (appendectomy) surgery patient information from SAGES.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prescription opioids.

  5. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Acetaminophen.

  6. Rasmussen T, Fonnes S, Rosenberg J. Long-term complications of appendectomy: A systematic review. Scand J Surg. 2018;107(3):189-196. doi:10.1177/1457496918772379

By Jennifer Whitlock, RN, MSN, FN
Jennifer Whitlock, RN, MSN, FNP-C, is a board-certified family nurse practitioner. She has experience in primary care and hospital medicine.