Best Waiting Time Between Surgeries

Surgeon operating patient on table at hospital
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There is no hard and fast rule about waiting times between surgeries. Ask ten surgeons and you will probably get ten different answers. It may be shocking but In life-threatening situations, a patient may actually have several surgeries in the course of a few days, and some patient have been known to have dozens of surgeries in the course of a month.  

Patients who have a dozen or more surgeries in one month are not common, and they are typically amongst the sickest people in the hospital. They may be trauma patients, who repeatedly return to surgery to have broken bones repaired, or they could be patients who are burned and require many skin grafts to heal properly.

There are many reasons why multiple surgeries in a short period of time is not ideal, but there are times when waiting could cause more harm than good. Imagine your doctor saying, “No, I can’t take out your inflamed appendix that could kill you if the infection leaks into your body because you had gallbladder surgery 4 weeks ago.”  It just doesn't make sense to wait.

Ask yourself, "What's the rush?" and if there is no good reason to hurry, don't.

Recommended Waiting Times Between Surgeries

Surgeons vary on how long they want patients to wait between procedures when waiting is an option. 6 to 12 weeks seems to be the most common recommendation. The longer wait times are typically recommended after major procedures that require extensive time under anesthesia, greater blood loss, and for patients who may not be in peak health at the time of the procedure.

For example, if you have a surgery that took 7 hours to complete under general anesthesia, your recommended recovery time may be much longer than for your friend who had a quick surgery that allowed her to recover at home the same night.

In some cases, you may know that you need several surgeries, performed in stages, to correct a problem. This is often true of children with a birth defect or another significant problem. In these cases, the wait between surgeries may be many months or even years apart, depending upon the plan the surgeon has decided upon.

When You Should Have Your Next Surgery

If you have a choice regarding when to have your surgeries, a good rule of thumb is to wait until you feel fully recovered from your first surgery before considering your second procedure. That means you are feeling 100% as good or better than you did before surgery or as good as you can possibly expect to be.

That means you aren’t fatigued or in pain from the surgery, your incision has completely healed, and you are back to your normal activities without difficulty. Once you are feeling like yourself again, or as much like yourself as is possible, then consider the second procedure.

Your surgeon, or surgeons, will also be able to provide their opinion on the matter and will help you decide when waiting is the best course of action. They can review your entire situation, including your current and past medical and surgical history, and determine when the surgery will take place without increasing your surgical risk.​

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