When can I return to my daily activities after a thoracic surgery?

After thoracic surgery, your body needs to heal so you will have to take some time off work. At first, you will not be able to perform all the range of activities you used to before the surgery. During your follow-up, you will learn what new activities you can resume. Your doctor will be able to answer this question after evaluating your recovery.

How soon you can settle back into your regular daily routine after a thoracic surgery will depend on many things, including the extent of the surgery, whether it’s performed minimally invasively, your age and your health before the surgery. However, you can expect to experience some pain, a lack of energy, and fatigue afterward. In the first two weeks, you will gradually regain your energy but may continue to experience "good days" and "bad days", and this is quite normal.

To improve your recovery after surgery, be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions, including:

  • take care of the incision as it heals
  • take your medications as prescribed
  • attend your follow-up appointments

Thoracic surgeon Farshad Malekmehr, M.D., emphasizes the following post-op instructions for a successful transition from hospital to home:

  • Rest - Make sure to get some rest. Spend time in bed and do not overexert yourself – do only as much as you feel like doing during the first few days after your surgery. Remember, pushing yourself too early may be detrimental to your recovery process.
  • Follow activity restrictions - The doctor might send you home with activity restrictions. Avoid heavy lifting, pushing or pulling for 6 weeks after surgery.
  • Drive - You may also be instructed not to drive for 4 weeks after surgery because of the fatigue and decreased reaction time you’re likely to experience.
  • Work - Check with your surgeon before returning to work, but most patients will begin to feel like returning to light work 6 to 12 weeks after surgery.

Disclaimer: We do not assume responsibility for the use of the provided information or its interpretation. Our efforts are towards providing current and reliable information; however these should not be considered, or used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment.

Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Education/Medical-Library/