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New Westminster, BC CAN V3L 0E4
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General Post Operative Instructions

After surgery you will be given specific instructions.

The following are very basic instructions that can be clarified with your treating surgeon.


Begin with clear liquids and eat a light diet after surgery. Avoid spicy, hot or gaseous foods as they may increase chances for nausea. Advance diet as tolerated.


Most patients are discharged with a narcotic pain medication (Tylenol #3, Oxycodone etc) and/or an anti-inflammatory (ibuprofen) medication, which may be taken together.

  • Local anesthetics injected around the surgical site causes numbness for a period of time. This will wear off within 4-8 hours after your surgery and pain will increase at that point.
  • Oral pain medication takes about 30 minutes to start working, so be sure to take it prior to the pain becoming severe. The most common side effect of pain medication is stomach upset.
  • For mild pain take Tylenol ES or ibuprofen every 4-6 hours as needed.
  • For moderate pain take ibuprofen 600mg and Tylenol ES 1000mg together every 4-6 hours.
  • For severe pain take a narcotic (i.e. Tylenol #3) and ibuprofen as directed.
  • Pain medications can be stopped if they are too strong for your symptoms.
  • Anti-inflammatories should be avoided in nonunion fracture surgery.
  • Narcotic medication can cause drowsiness. You should avoid driving and operating heavy machinery.
  • Narcotic medications will be refilled for no longer than one month after surgery. If further pain medications are needed, you must contact your family physician.


  • Some bleeding is to be expected from the surgical incision, and the dressing may need to be reinforced.
  • You can expect swelling after surgery. Keeping your extremity elevated will reduce the amount of swelling and pain. Apply ice for 20 minutes each hour or use cryotherapy as instructed.
  • Loosen the dressings if any numbness or tingling continues after 24 hours post-surgery.
  • Do not remove dressings unless specifically instructed to do so by your surgeon. Keep them clean and dry.
  • If you experience a fever above 38.5°C (101°F), any redness or pus-like discharge around the incision, please contact your surgeon’s office or present to the Emergency Department.
  • Excessive pain may indicate problems that need to be evaluated. Ensure that the limb is elevated, ice is applied and medications are being taken as instructed. If excessive pain persists, contact your surgeon’s office or present to the Emergency Department.

Wound Care

Some patients go home on the day of surgery while others stay overnight. If instructed by your surgeon, change your dressing approximately 48 hours post-operatively. There will be some bloody drainage on the dressing. This is expected and should not worry you. Cover the incisions to keep it clean and dry.
If you went home the day after your surgery, your bandages may have been changed for you. You can change it as above should the new gauze become damp or dirty.

  • Once the incision is dry you may leave it uncovered, keep the stitches clean.
  • Do not apply polysporin or any other ointment over the incision.
  • It is okay to shower 2 days after surgery but DO NOT SOAK incision until after stitches are removed.

Follow Up:

Call your surgeon’s office to arrange a follow up appointment. Further post-operative instructions will be provided during this visit. Some items (i.e. fiberglass casts, walking boots, arm slings, knee braces) are not covered by BC Medical Services and will need to be covered by yourself or may be reimbursed through extended benefits programs.