Top 10 Items You Should Have at Home After a Surgery

If you are having surgery, planning ahead can make your recovery after surgery easier, quicker and even less painful. While recoveries vary from procedure to procedure, and even person to person, there are things you can do to make your first few days at home less stressful and calmer just by making some arrangements before you even leave for the hospital.

A woman reading a book on the couch
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Your physician will provide instructions for what you can and cannot do during your recovery, as these vary widely between surgeries. The instructions for someone who had an appendectomy are very different than the instructions for someone who had weight loss surgery.

That said, the vast majority of patients feel better if they "take it easy" after surgery, if only for a few days. Most surgery patients need at least few days to truly begin to feel their usual level of energy and regain their ability to get through the day without the need for rest and sleep, even if the procedure was minor.

The tips that follow are intended to prevent pain, provide more time for rest, prevent injury and provide some entertainment while convalescing.

Hand Sanitizer and Antibacterial Soap

It is nearly impossible to wash your hands too much when you are recovering from surgery. Frequent use of hand sanitizer, as well as proper handwashing technique, can prevent infection and germs.

Keeping your hands clean, and never touching your incision without first sanitizing or washing your hands, can prevent infection.


It sounds like a life of luxury—have a dog walker, a driver, a cook, and someone to do laundry at your home after surgery. It isn't the stuff of millionaires, we call these people friends and family.

As much as you might want to do laundry and take your beloved pooch for a stroll, these activities can really be quite painful after surgery. Having a dog pulling on your arm may be fine under normal circumstances, but it can be excruciating in the days after surgery.

If you would rather your friends and family don't see you while you are ill, there are services available that provide nurse aids who can help with household tasks, for a fee.

Easy-to-Make Meals

Making a casserole or stocking up on frozen meals the day before surgery is one easy way to minimize the stress of having to cook a meal for yourself or your family. Having pizza delivered after surgery isn't a luxury, it is self-preservation for someone who is too sore to handle a sink full of dishes.

Taking the time to make a big dish of lasagna in the days before surgery may keep your family fed and you out of the kitchen when you really feel the need to be in bed sleeping.

Comfortable Clothes

There is a reason that you see people wandering around hospitals in pajamas—they are comfortable. Loose clothing can be a godsend after surgery, especially if your surgery was performed on your abdomen, lower back, or pelvis.

No one wants a waistband that rubs against a fresh and often very sensitive incision. Loose clothing is also more comfortable when spending the majority of your time in bed, which is common after surgery.

Filled Prescriptions

If your physician is willing to write your prescriptions the day prior to your surgery, have them filled and waiting for you when you arrive home.

Otherwise, you may find yourself desperately trying to fill your prescription for pain relief on your way home from the hospital, when you would really prefer to be at home in bed.

Over-the-Counter Remedies

Your physician may recommend that you increase your water and fiber intake to prevent constipation after surgery, which is common. A fiber additive can be easily found at a pharmacy as pills or drink additives. If you are planning to take over the counter pain medication rather than prescription, be sure to have that on hand as well.

Emergency Contact Information

Know how to reach your surgeon, day or night, in case of an emergency. You don't want to be scrambling for that information if you think you are having a complication. A quick conversation with your physician may make the difference between rushing to the emergency room and a good night's sleep.

Movies, Music, and Books

Let's face it, recovering from surgery can be really boring. There is a tremendous amount of sitting down, quietly resting, and avoiding pain, while you would rather be doing many other things. Is there a movie you've been wanting to see? A book that you bought that you just never quite found the time to read?

In the days leading up to your surgery, stock up on your favorite entertainment, whether it be crossword puzzles, video games, books, or even the supplies to knit.

Incision Care Supplies

If you are going to be doing incision care after your surgery, find out from your physician's office what type of supplies you will need prior to the surgery. Stock up before your surgery so you don't have to worry about finding the supplies after surgery.


Keeping hydrated after surgery is particularly important in the days immediately after surgery as drinking ample water will help your body flush anesthesia and other medications from your system. Water can also help make pain easier to manage, improve energy levels and decrease the risk of urinary tract infection after surgery.

A Word From Verywell

Taking it easy after surgery is more important than you might think, being overtired or doing strenuous activities after surgery can actually slow your recovery. Pushing too fast or too hard to resume your normal activities can lead to pain, slower recovery and even injury.

3 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. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hand Sanitizer Use Out & About.

  2. Celik S, Atar NY, Ozturk N, et al. Constipation Risk in Patients Undergoing Abdominal SurgeryIran Red Crescent Med J. 2015;17(6):e23632.

  3. Yin X, Ye L, Zhao L, Li L, Song J. Early versus delayed postoperative oral hydration after general anesthesia: a prospective randomized trialInt J Clin Exp Med. 2014;7(10):3491-3496.

Additional Reading

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.