The Whipple Procedure is a complex and
delicate surgery that is most often done for
chronic pancreatitis or cancer of the
pancreas. The pancreas is an organ that has
two functions. The first is to produce
insulin which controls how much sugar is in
your blood. The second is to produce
digestive juices that neutralize the acid that
is made by your stomach. Your doctor will
discuss with you how the surgery affects
The Whipple is also called a
pancreaticoduodenectomy. During the
Whipple, part of the pancreas is removed,
along with a portion of both the stomach and
duodenum (small intestine). The common
bile duct and the gallbladder may also be
removed. The stomach and pancreas are
then attached to the small intestine to allow
enzymes and gastric juices to pass into the
Care of the Incision
You will need to look at your incision daily.
Call your doctor if you notice:
- Increased pain or tenderness at the
- Increased swelling or opening of the
- Any change in the color or amount of
- Redness or warmth around the incision
- Temperature (by mouth) above 100.5 θ F
or 38 θ C
Your incision will be closed with staples or
steri-strips (small tape strips).
If it is closed with steri-strips, keep them dry
for 7 days. You may take a sponge bath or
cover the incision with plastic wrap. After
that time, you may shower and allow the
strips to fall off slowly.
If it is closed with staples, you may shower
as soon as you’d like. Do not rub the
incision site. Just let the soapy water run
over it. Do not use any lotions or creams.
Keep it clean and dry.
For the first 3 weeks, avoid lifting things
over 10 pounds. Keep walking and slowly
resume your normal household activities.
Be sure to stay within your lifting
After 3 weeks, slowly increase your level of
activity. Check with your doctor if you are
not sure an activity is right for you. Listen
to your body for cues. Let comfort be your
guide. If it hurts, stop.
Check with your doctor about when you
ξ Resume driving; do not drive if you
are taking narcotic pain medicine.
These include Percocet , Vicodin ,
or Tylenol #3.
ξ Return to work
ξ Resume sexual activity
It is normal to have some pain from the
incision after you return home. Your doctor
will order pain medicine for you to take
home. Use these pills as you need them.
They should not be taken more often than
every 3 to 4 hours. A pain pill at bedtime
can help you sleep well. Be sure to follow
directions on the bottle. Do not drive when
Pain medicine can cause some problems
with constipation. You can promote good
bowel habits by drinking plenty of fluids and
adding fiber to your diet. If constipation is a
problem for you, you can use a stool softener
such as Colace or a mild laxative such as
Milk of Magnesia . You should talk this
over with your doctor first.
Eat what appeals to you when you get home.
Try to eat a balanced diet with protein,
fruits, bread, milk, and vegetables. Do not
skip meals. You should eat small, frequent
meals. Include an evening snack.
You may need to test your blood sugar when
you go home. This tells you if your pancreas
is able to produce the insulin you need for
normal living. Call your doctor if you have:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Lightheaded or dizziness
If you have questions, our dietician would be
happy to go over a diet to fit your needs. Just
ask your nurse to call the dietician.
You may also be given a medicine to replace
the digestive enzymes that were produced by
your pancreas. It is important that you take
it as ordered so your body can break down
the food you eat.
When to Call the Doctor
- Unusual pain in your right side
- Severe fatigue that doesn’t go away
- Unusual drainage at the incision
- Fever of 100.5 θ F or 38 θ C
- Any unusual or prolonged bleeding
Call the Surgery Clinic at (608) 263-7502
with any questions or problems, Monday-
Friday 8:00am-4:30pm. This is a 24
After hours (nights, weekends, and
holidays), your call will be answered by
Paging. Ask the paging operator for the
doctor on call for Dr. ____________. They
will take your name and phone number and
the doctor will return your call.
If you live outside the area, call toll-free at
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 © 5/2017. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
& Clinics Authority, All Rights Reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4477