Complications and Problems After Surgery

After your surgery is over, it is easy to feel like you are finished with your health issues and you just need to hurry up and recover so you can go about your life. Sometimes it is that easy – you rest for a few days then you are on your feet and back to your normal life. The reality is that often the weeks following surgery aren’t that simple or easy.

Man in a hospital bed
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I’m Done With Surgery, Now What About This Incision?

Your surgery is over and it went very well, but now you have this incision you are supposed to take care of and no idea how to do it. Find out how to take care of your incision and prevent complications like an infection with simple and easy instructions like "wash your hands."

Fever After Surgery

After surgery, a low-grade fever isn't abnormal. Not everyone will develop a temperature after a procedure, but many patients do develop a low temperature (under 101) that goes away as healing continues. Higher temperatures are not considered normal and you should make your surgeon aware of this issue or seek medical treatment.

Why Does My Throat Hurt So Much? I Didn’t Have Throat Surgery!

Your surgery is over and your throat hurts as much, if not more than, your incision. This is a common issue after having general anesthesia, due to the process of a breathing tube being placed into the trachea.

My Incision Can’t Be Infected, I Followed Incision Care Instructions!

You’ve been washing your hands and doing all the right things, but your incision could be infected anyway. Find out the signs of infection, what to do if your incision has pus coming from it and when to call the doctor. Is the red area around your incision normal, or a sign of infection?

I'm Having Pain!

There are many ways to improve your pain after surgery—with pain medication or alternative methods of pain control—to help make your recovery easier.

I’m Having Trouble Urinating. Really. I Can’t Pee!

You’ve had surgery and now you can’t seem to urinate. This complication can be a minor nuisance or it can be an emergency that requires immediate medical attention.

I’m So Constipated. Help! Make My Bowels Move!

As if having surgery wasn’t bad enough, now you can’t seem to have a bowel movement. Find out why this happens, what to do about it and why ignoring the problem can cause harm to your new incision. Don't worry, changes in stool are quite common after surgery for a wide variety of reasons, and can be normal or can be an indication of an issue.

When Can I Take a Bath? I Would Love a Bath, a Swim Would Be Nice Too!

After making do with showers and sponge baths, a real soak in the tub or swim in the pool may sound like a dream come true. Find out when it is safe to take the plunge without hurting your surgical site and risking infection.

Feeling Down? A Little Blue After Surgery or a Whole Lot of Blue?

After surgery, many people feel, well, yucky. That isn’t the medical term, but it is still a common way to describe the general feeling of recovery. After all, it is normal to feel pain, tired, run-down and lacking in energy. It is also common to experience depression after surgery, which can make you feel tired, run-down and lacking in energy. Learn how to identify the differences between a normal recovery and depression after surgery.

What Did My Surgeon Do to My Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure can become an issue after surgery, particularly during a painful or challenging recovery. 

I Think This Is Serious: Emergency Medical Treatment After Surgery

In rare circumstances, a normal recovery takes a sharp turn and leads to the need for emergency medical treatment. Learn how to identify the signs of a serious complication after surgery and what to do if you are facing a surgical emergency.

I’m All Better, Can I Have Sex Now?

You have taken good care of your incision, you've eaten the right things, you’ve walked around when you didn’t feel like walking around because you knew you would heal faster and you’ve washed your hands a thousand times. Since you’ve been such a good patient and healed so well, surely it is safe to have sex — or isn’t it?

A Word From Verywell

After surgery, it is easy—and normal—to be concerned about every twinge of pain and fret over every day that doesn't seem like a textbook recovery. Minor twinges aside, it is never a good idea to ignore issues after surgery, particularly when they seem serious. If you think you might have an infection, tell your surgeon. If you have a fever, notify your surgeon. If you think your incision is opening up, call your surgeon. If you think you are getting sicker instead of better, you guessed it, tell your surgeon. 

7 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.
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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.