Cedars Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital Alert: COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS) information for patients and visitors LEARN MORE >>

Recovery Guidelines After Robotic Surgery

Daniel Marcus';

By Daniel Marcus

Posted on August 25th, 2020 in Marina Robotics

Robotic Surgery RecoveryRobotic surgery, which nearly 700,000 people in the United States undergo annually, has numerous benefits, as it is minimally invasive and very precise.

One of the advantages of robotic surgery is the short recovery time, as well as the short hospitalization time since the patient is often discharged within two to four days following the robotic procedure they had to undergo.

The timeframe depends on the severity of their health condition or disease.

Some other benefits of robotic surgery are:

  • minimal scarring
  • reduced pain and discomfort
  • lower risk of infection
  • decreased blood loss
  • lower risk of complications
  • no need for blood transfusion

However, it is important to know that not everyone is eligible for robotic surgery, as this procedure can only treat mild health problems. While it can successfully treat lung cancer when the disease is in the early phases, for instance, if the disease is too advanced, open surgery will be necessary. The same applies to any other health problem. Only after being thoroughly examined by a medical specialist you will know with certainty whether you are a good candidate for robotic surgery.

What Do I Need to Do After Robotic Surgery?

The complete recovery time for robotic surgery is 2 to 3 weeks. This is a significantly shorter period of time that the recovery for open or laparoscopic surgery, after which the patient may have to wait several months to heal entirely. Because it is considerably safer than open surgery, people who undergo robotic surgery will only have to spend 2 to 4 nights in the hospital and can return to their normal activities within a month. During their hospital stay, their vital signs will be permanently monitored by a team of medical specialists.

There are certain things you can do to speed up your recovery after undergoing robotic surgery. Nonetheless, before making any radical changes to your lifestyle, it is recommended to talk to your doctor first, as they have the expertise to give you advice. Here are some tips for a quick recovery after robotic surgery:

  • get enough sleep: it is during sleep that our body recovers the most, repairing and healing any damage that was done to it, so you need to make sure you sleep for at least 8 hours every night for the weeks following surgery
  • pain management: although your pain and discomfort is substantially reduced with robotic surgery, you may still experience some physical distress, which is why you need to follow the pain medication plan given to you after the surgery and take your painkillers as instructed
  • engage in light exercise: after discussing with your doctor, they will be able to tell you in which physical activities you can safely engage after robotic surgery, as exercise is just as important as sleep during your recovery and you may be recommended swimming, walking, yoga or biking
  • have a diet rich in fruits, vegetable and fiber: having a balanced and healthy diet will speed up your recovery, particularly if you make sure to consume foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain, olive oil, avocado, nuts, dark leafy greens, beans and lentils, as well as probiotics such as yogurt or sauerkraut
  • drink plenty of water: it is crucial to stay hydrated during the recovery process, so try slowly drinking two or three glasses of water between your meals every day
  • attend your follow-up appointments: you never know when a complication may arise, although the prevalence of health complications after undergoing robotic surgery is very low, so attending every follow-up appointment is very important for the recovery process
  • clean up your incisions to avoid the risk of infection: it is important to take care of your incisions, although small, after robotic surgery, which usually entails gently washing them with soap and water on a regular basis, avoiding soaking them in water, not using rubbing alcohol or any other product on your incisions and regularly changing the dressings

These are only some general recovery guidelines and, while some of these may be beneficial to you, we advise you to talk to your doctor first, as they will be able to tell you whether a certain activity or lifestyle change would be appropriate for your health.

What Should I Avoid Following Robotic Surgery?

There are also certain things you will need to avoid for a while after robotic surgery so as to prevent the occurrence of health complications. We have compiled a list of the most important things you should avoid during your recovery from robotic surgery, as follows:

  • do not drive too soon: while driving is usually not recommended because of the painkillers you will be prescribed after the surgery, there are other reasons why you should wait at least 2 weeks until you drive again, such as the risk of your sutures breaking
  • do not lift heavy weights: avoid lifting anything heavier than 15 pounds for at least 4 weeks after your surgery, as in this situation, there is also the risk of your sutures breaking or accidentally causing damage to your organ that was operated on
  • avoid constipation: if you underwent gastrointestinal robotic surgery or are taking prescription medication to manage your pain, you are at high risk of constipation, which must be avoided during your recovery, as straining your muscles may result in your sutures breaking
  • avoid smoking: because nicotine affects every organ in the body, slowly damaging your health, it is a good idea to quit at least during your recovery, which is bound to speed it up considerably

Nevertheless, these are only some of the things you should avoid during recovery, regardless of the robotic procedure you underwent. Your doctor will tell you more about what is allowed and disallowed throughout recovery, depending on how severe your health problem was and on how difficult the surgery was. For a fast and safe recovery, we strongly encourage you to take into consideration the previous tips, as well as the instructions of your doctor. While the recovery time from robotic surgery is shorter, you still need to follow the guidelines to avoid any postoperative complications.

Undergo Robotic Surgery at Cedars Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital

With over 10 years of experience in performing robotic procedures, our surgeons will carefully evaluate your health to determine if you are eligible for robotic surgery, as not everyone is a good candidate. However, if you have a mild health problem, there is a great chance that you will qualify for robotic surgery. Our medical specialists will perform the surgical procedure you need in a warm and calm environment. After your surgery, you will be constantly monitored by our medical team to avoid any postoperative complications. For additional information about robotic surgery, please contact Marina del Rey Hospital and we will gladly answer all your questions and address all your concerns.