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Discharge Instructions for Gastrectomy

You had a gastrectomy. During this surgery, some or all of your stomach was removed. As you heal from surgery, here’s what you’ll need to know to care for yourself.

Eating and drinking

  • Follow the diet that was prescribed for you in the hospital. Eat pureed foods and liquids for 3 weeks after the surgery.

  • Drink liquids in smaller amounts than you used to. This will make it easier for your body to digest liquids. But, it is important that you continue to drink liquids (in small amounts) so that you do not become dehydrated. Some signs of dehydration include dry mouth and urine that is darker or less in amount.

  • Eat slowly. Eating too much or too fast will cause nausea and vomiting.

  • Liquids and solids may need to be eaten separately.

  • Use liquid nutritional supplements recommended by a health care provider to make sure you get enough calories.

  • Try to eat small, frequent high protein low carbohydrate meals when you are eating solids again.

Activity

  • Remember, recovery takes several weeks. It is common to feel tired. Rest as needed.

  • Walk as often as you feel able, ideally a few times a times a day. Increase your activity slowly as the days progress.

  • Do not lift anything heavier than 10 pounds until the healthcare provider says it's OK. Usually around 2 weeks.

  • Avoid strenuous chores, such as vacuuming, yard work,lifting kids, or lifting full bags of garbage, until the healthcare provider says it’s OK.

  • Climb stairs slowly and pause after every few steps.

  • Do not drive for 2 weeks after surgery, or until it is okay with your healthcare provider.

  • Start an exercise program 1 week after discharge. You can benefit from simple activities such as walking on a flat area. Ask your healthcare provider how to get started.

  • Ask your healthcare provider when you can expect to return to work.

Other home care

  • Continue the coughing and deep breathing exercises that you learned in the hospital.

  • Shower as needed. But avoid baths, swimming pools, and hot tubs until your healthcare provider says they are OK. This helps prevent infection of the incision site.

  • Keep the incision clean and dry. Wash the incision gently with mild soap and warm water. Then gently pat the incision dry with a towel.

  • Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about caring for the dressing covering your incisions.

  • If your healthcare provider used small white adhesive strips to close the incision, do not remove them. Let the strips fall off on their own. If they don’t come off within 2 weeks after you were sent home, call your healthcare provider to find out how they should be removed.

  • Take your medicines in crushed or liquid form for 3 weeks after surgery.

  • Take a chewable vitamin 2 times a day. Ask your healthcare provider if you also need to take a supplement for vitamin B12.

  • Take all medicines as directed by your healthcare provider.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Cloudy or smelly drainage from the incision site

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Shaking chills

  • Fast pulse

  • Night sweats

  • Pain, nausea, or vomiting that occurs after you eat

  • Diarrhea beyond the first week after discharge

  • Pain in your upper back, chest, or left shoulder

  • Hiccups that won’t stop or that keep coming back

  • Confusion, depression, or unusual fatigue

  • Signs of bladder infection. These include urinating more often than usual, and burning, pain, bleeding, or hesitancy when you urinate.

Online Medical Reviewer: Jonas DeMuro MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Kenny Turley PA-C
Date Last Reviewed: 10/1/2016
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.