Prostate Cancer

What to Expect After Surgery

Immediately after the surgery you will be taken to the recovery room and transferred to your hospital room once you are fully awake and your vital signs are stable.

  • Post Operative Pain: Patients can control and deliver pain medication to themselves by using a "patient controlled analgesia" (PCA) device. The PCA is controlled by the patient by using a button, or "clicker"; when the patient clicks the button, the machine dispenses intravenous pain medication. The machine has limits so that there is no concern for "overdose'. Alternatively, pain medications can be administered to the patient by the nursing staff though the I.V. or orally.
  • Nausea: You may experience some nausea related to the anesthesia or pain medication. Medication is available to treat persistent nausea.
  • Urinary Catheter: After radical prostatectomy, you can expect to have a urinary "Foley" catheter. This will be placed in the operating room while you are asleep. It will remain in place for approximately 5-7 days after the surgery. It is not uncommon to have blood-tinged urine for a few days after your surgery, but this is temporary.
  • Diet: Most patients are placed on a liquid diet (juice, broth, jello, etc) the next morning after surgery. A regular diet soon follows, typically after the patient passes flatus.
  • Fatigue: Fatigue is common and should start to subside in a 3 to 4 weeks.
  • Incentive Spirometry: You will be expected to do some breathing exercises to help prevent respiratory infections through using an incentive spirometry device (these exercises will be explained to you during your hospital stay). Coughing and deep breathing are an important part of your recuperation and help to prevent pneumonia.
  • Ambulation: It is very important to get out of bed the morning after surgery! Walking with the supervision of your nurse or family member is extremely important. Walking helps prevent blood clots, pneumonia and helps the bowel function to return. You can expect to have "boots" placed on your lower legs that periodically squeeze your calves to prevent blood clots from forming (sequential compression devices). They are removed once you are walking.
  • Hospital Stay: The length of hospital stay for most patients is approximately 1-2 days, e.g. patients typically go home the next day after surgery, or on the second day after surgery.
  • Constipation: You may experience sluggish bowels for several weeks. Suppositories and stool softeners are usually given to help with this problem. Taking mineral oil daily at home will also help to prevent constipation.
  • Drain: You will have a drain coming out of a small incision in your side. This will drain blood-tinged fluid. It is usually removed on the first day after surgery, but may be left in place if drainage persists. Rarely, patients go home with this drain in place and it is then removed in the surgeon's office at a later time.