Homeward Bound After Vascular Surgery
What can I expect when I am discharged from the hospital?
Before you leave, you will learn how to care for yourself at home. A friend or family member
should be present the day of discharge to hear instructions with you. You will receive
prescriptions for medicines. Your medicines may change after surgery. You may take some
different ones. The doses of some may change. Please note the names, doses, and times of your
medicines. Do not take the medicines you were taking before surgery without checking with
your surgical team. Please bring your insurance card if you plan to fill your prescriptions at the
UW Hospital Pharmacy.
You need a responsible person to drive you home and stay with you. It may be helpful to have
someone stay with you for the first week or two after you go home. Some patients may want or
need to stay at a place for more rehabilitation or skilled nursing care after discharge from the
hospital. Your vascular surgery team will work with you to assess your needs. Your case
manager will help arrange for special needs like Home Health, a nursing home stay, or Meals on
Most patients have follow-up visits with their Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant at 1 week
and 4 weeks after surgery.
How do I care for my incisions?
Keep incisions clean and dry. Do not put ointments, powders, or lotions on them. Shower daily
with your back to the stream. Use a mild, fragrance-free soap. When washing, avoid rubbing
your incision. Pat the incision dry.
If your incision is in your groin, please make sure to wash with soap daily and dry well. Apply a
new bandage to the site daily.
At first, the incisions may be red and swollen. The redness and swelling decrease as they heal.
Signs that an incision has become infected include increasing redness, warmth, soreness, thick
yellow drainage, and fever. Please call the surgeon’s office if you have any of these signs.
Tub baths, hot tubs, and swimming pools are not allowed for 30 days or until your incisions are
fully healed. Any staples or sutures will be removed at your first follow-up visit.
How active should I be?
As you heal you will slowly feel stronger and more independent. This may take weeks to
months. Be patient. Give yourself time. Each day find a balance between increasing your
activity, and getting enough rest and sleep. Deep breathing helps your lungs recover. Use your
incentive spirometer at home for 3 weeks to help your lungs heal. Walking is a good safe way to
exercise after surgery. Be as active as you feel you can be. Call your surgeon’s office if you
have questions or concerns about your recovery.
Pain medicine may cause you to become drowsy, dizzy, or lightheaded. Do not drive, use
machines, or drink alcohol while taking pain pills.
Are there any common experiences after vascular surgery?
Vascular surgery is a stress on the body. It takes time to recover. There are some common
experiences that many vascular surgery patients have after surgery. You may have none, some,
or all of these.
Many patients have shortness of breath. This can be from extra water in your body, anemia, or
the stress from surgery. Having shortness of breath with effort is common. Call your surgeon’s
office if it gets worse.
Patients often have sleeping problems. They may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
Patients sometimes have strange or vivid dreams. There is no known reason for any of these.
Most patients find that their sleeping problems go away in a few weeks. A sleep aid may be
helpful for a short time. Please talk with your surgery team about medicines, if you are having
Changes in mood, such as depression or feeling very emotional, are common for people who
have just had vascular surgery. This seems to be due to the stress of the surgery. It is best to
share your thoughts and feelings with someone. Patients with strong emotional support tend to
recover more quickly. If you are having problems coping or need support, please talk with your
doctor or nurse. People most often feel better and more like themselves within several weeks
Here are some ideas to help you heal and feel more positive about yourself and your recovery:
Do things that you enjoy and are within your limits.
Take it day by day based on how you feel.
Get together with family and friends.
When may I return to work?
Everyone recovers from vascular surgery at their own pace. When you can return to work will
depend on how you feel and the kind of job you have. You may find it helpful to start back to
work part time or on a reduced schedule until you are fully recovered. If you need paperwork
filed for your job, please bring it with you for your surgeon to complete.
When to call your surgeon’s office?
Call your surgeon’s office during the first 4 weeks after discharge if
You feel short of breath.
Your legs or feet are more swollen than normal
You have any of these signs of infection
○ Pus (may be thick yellow drainage with a bad smell).
○ Pain or soreness.
○ Temperature higher than 100.5 θ F.
What are the contact phone numbers?
o The phone number for the surgeons’ offices during business hours (weekdays
8:00 am to 4:30 pm) is 608-263-8915
After hours/weekends/holidays, call 608-262-0486. This will get you the paging
operator. Ask for the vascular surgery resident on call. Leave your name and phone
number with an area code. The physician will call you back.
If you live out of the area, please call 1-800-323-8942 to reach the paging operator.
For questions about appointments, please call the Vascular Surgery Clinic at 608-263-
8915 during business hours (weekdays 8:00 am to 4:30 pm).
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 © 3/2016. University of
Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing.