The appendix is a small, worm-like pouch of
tissue which extends from the first part of
the large bowel (cecum). During an
appendectomy, the inflamed or infected
appendix is removed. An infected appendix
must be taken out because if it leaks into the
abdomen it can be fatal.
If a pocket of infection (an abscess) has
formed or the appendix has ruptured, the
abdomen will be “washed out” during
surgery. This is done to prevent the
infection from spreading. A small tube may
be left in to help drain fluid.
Recovery is often quick. If the appendix has
an abscess or has ruptured, your healing may
be slower and more complex. In this case,
medicine is needed to treat the infection.
Living without an appendix causes no
known health problems.
If your doctor uses a laparoscope to remove
the appendix, you have 3–5 small incisions.
Expect the incisions to be swollen and
numb. Expect the incisions to heal within 2
1. Keep incisions dry and covered for 48
hours (2 days) after surgery. Then, you
may shower and wash them with mild
soap and water and pat dry. Do not soak
in the bathrub, hot tub, or swim until
they are healed. This may take at least 2
2. No ointments, powders, or creams on the
3. You do not have to wear a dressing
unless wounds are in a skin fold, your
clothes rub on them, or they are draining.
If you wear a Band-Aid®, change it at
least once a day and more often if it gets
4. Look at your wounds each day for signs
Increasing redness or warmth.
Excess swelling or bleeding.
Temperature more than 100.4 θ F by
mouth, for two readings taken 4
We will have you up and walking the
day after surgery. Make sure you
continue walking at least 3 times
each day at home.
Nothing more strenuous than
walking until okayed by your doctor.
Do not drive while taking narcotic
Do not lift more than 10 pounds for
Check with your doctor before going
back to work.
You may resume sex when you feel
Avoid all tobacco including second
Expect to have pain. You will have pain
pills to help manage the pain. You may
have aching in your neck and shoulders from
the gas put in your abdomen during surgery.
Walking may help relieve this pain.
You will usually be able to eat a regular diet
soon after surgery. You may want to start
with foods that are easy to digest (cream of
wheat, cream soups, milk, yogurt, etc) and
advance your diet as you can. Be sure to
drink plenty of fluids.
A diet high in fluid and fiber can help
prevent constipation. Be sure to drink 6-8
glasses of liquids each day. You may want
to use a stool softener, docusate sodium
(Colace®) and / or a bulk fiber laxative to
prevent problems as long as you are taking
pain pills and until you have your first bowel
When to Call the Doctor
Nausea or vomiting for more than 24
Signs of infection
Increasing redness or warmth
Excess swelling or bleeding.
Temperature more than 100.4 ºF
by mouth, for 2 readings taken 4
Pain not controlled by pain pills.
If you have not had a bowel
movement in 2-3 days, you may need
Surgery Clinic: (608) 263-7502. This is a
24 hour number.
After hours, weekends and holidays ask
for the doctor on call for
Leave your name and phone number with
the area code. The doctor will call you back.
Toll Free: 800-323-8942
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 © 10/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing HF#5292.