Home Care after Sympathectomy
What is a Sympathectomy?
This is a minimally invasive surgical
procedure that destroys the nerve supply to
sweat glands in the armpits and palms.
This handout is a review of things you need
to know about caring for yourself at home.
Your nurse will go over this with you. If
you have any questions, please let us know.
ξ Have someone drive you home
following the procedure.
ξ Do not lift more than 10 pounds (gallon
of milk) for 4-5 days following surgery.
1. You have two sutures on either side of
your body. These will be removed at
your follow-up visit. The other incisions
have sutures that will be absorbed by
2. Keep all dressings clean and dry.
3. Do not soak your incisions in water. Do
not swim or sit in a bathtub or hot tub
until incisions are fully healed. This
takes about 2 weeks.
4. You have paper-like strips (Steri-strips)
on your upper incisions. Do not remove
these. They will peel off by themselves
in 3-5 days or will be removed at your
follow up visit.
Use the medicine prescribed by your doctor.
Typically Tylenol® 650-1000 mg every 6
hours or Ibuprofen® 800 mg every 8 hours
will be prescribed.
ξ When taking Tylenol®. Make sure you
do not exceed 4000 mg (4 grams) in a 24
ξ When taking Ibuprofen®, make sure you
take it with a full stomach for no more
than 7 days. Call your doctor at once if
you have symptoms of bleeding in your
stomach or intestines. This includes
black, bloody, or tarry stools, or
coughing up blood or vomit that looks
like coffee grounds.
Avoid aspirin unless told otherwise by your
doctor. Aspirin can increase bleeding.
When to Call your Doctor
Pain that is not controlled with your pain
Any sign of infection
ξ Incisions that are red or warm to the
ξ Pus-like drainage from incision or
chest tube sites
ξ Temperature greater than 101.5° F
(by mouth), for two readings, 4 hours
ξ A large amount of swelling,
bleeding, or bruising at the incision
or chest tube sites
Monday-Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm: Call
the Thoracic surgery clinic at
If you live out of the area please call toll
After hours, weekends and holidays - Call
the paging operator at (608) 262-2122. Ask
to speak with the cardiothoracic resident or
fellow. Leave your name and phone
number, the doctor will call you back.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 5/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6313