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Cardiothoracic Surgery »  Patient »  Patient Resources »  Returning Home From the Hospital

Returning Home From the Hospital

We understand that returning home from the hospital can be overwhelming. We have listed below answers to common patient concerns.


What to expect:

  • Full recovery takes 6-8 weeks
  • It is normal to have a case of the "blues"
  • It is common to feel very tired for the first few weeks
  • Pain and soreness may persist up to 2 months


Care of the incision:

  • Shower or bath as usual
  • DO NOT rub incisions; pat dry
  • DO NOT use oils, lotions or powders on the incisions


  • Walking is the best exercise after heart surgery
  • Try to exercise in small amounts 3-4 times a day 
  • At six weeks you may be eligible for cardiac rehabilitation 


  • DO NOT drive until your surgeon tells you it's safe to do so
  • DO NOT lift anything weighing more than 10 lbs. until 6 weeks after surgery


  • Take pain medication as prescribed
  • You may experience pain and soreness for up to 2 months


  • This is not the time to make drastic changes in your diet. During recovery it is more important to focus on healing and not long term changes. Lifestyle changes can be made after your recovery is complete.
  • During recovery you should try to avoid salty foods like: soy sauce, fast food, pizza and potato chips. You should eat healthy fresh food. Some of the medication may cause a change in your taste sensation and make some foods taste funny. If you are diabetic you should follow a diabetic diet.

Common Concerns

The list includes common concerns patients have. If you experience any of the normal symptoms do not worry.  If you have any of the abnormal symptoms, please contact your doctor.



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