Going Home After Cytoreductive Surgery and HIPEC
Once you meet a series of recovery milestones after cytoreductive surgery plus HIPEC, your surgeon will release you to go home.
Before you leave, we will prescribe medications to manage pain, prevent gastrointestinal symptoms, and enhance your nutrition and overall health. Your team will teach you what to eat, what activities to avoid and how to take care of your surgical wounds.
Once you are home, your team will check on you and make sure you know how to reach them with questions or concerns.
When Are You Ready to Go Home?
Your surgeon will consider several factors to decide when you are ready to go home. You will be cleared to go home if you:
- Can pass gas
- Aren’t in pain or your pain is easily controlled with oral medications
- Can drink liquids and eat food with little to no nausea
- Are able to walk without difficulty
- Don’t have any signs of infection around the incision
- Understand how to continue your successful recovery at home
- Know what possible complications to look for, and when to call your doctor
Postoperative Care for Peritoneal Cancer
Your team will suggest several strategies to help you continue your recovery at home, including instructions for:
- Nutrition: Eat a diet high in calories to boost energy and high in protein to promote healing. If you get full quickly or don’t feel like eating, eat small, frequent meals throughout the day. Start slowly and ease back into your normal diet.
- Bowel movements: Keep your bowels moving, and don’t go more than three days without a bowel movement. Pain medications slow your bowels, so use stool softeners.
- Hydration: Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.
- Activity: Stay active with light exercise, such as multiple walks throughout the day — but avoid movements that engage your core and abdominal muscles. Walking will help you regain your energy, prevent blood clots and increase your overall sense of well-being.
- Returning to work: Many patients can go back to work in about a month, as long as their duties don’t include heavy lifting.
- Personal hygiene: You may shower, but do not take baths or use a hot tub until the incision is healed.
- Postoperative checkup: Stay close to home for several days after discharge from the hospital. You will need see your surgeon for a postoperative appointment, or if a complication arises.
HIPEC Recovery: When to Call Your Care Team
Your surgeon will be available 24/7 if you have any complications or questions. You should call your surgeon if you experience any the following symptoms:
- Fever greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 degrees Celsius)
- Nausea or vomiting for more than a day or that is not improved by medications
- Pain that is uncontrollable or getting worse
- Redness that extends beyond your incision
- Swelling or unusual drainage from your incision
- Any other symptoms that do not seem right
About one week after you are discharged from the hospital, you will have a follow-up appointment. Your surgeon will assess your healing and adjust your care if needed.