After Your Surgery

Recovering at Home

​Recovery from a thoracoscopy is primarily done at home. It is important to follow your doctor's instructions after your hospital discharge and while you recover at home. These instructions will likely include:

  • Taking pain medication as prescribed to help relieve soreness and allow for deep breathing, which is key to preventing pneumonia.
  • Continuing your breathing exercises as taught before your discharge.
  • Make sure you are ambulating by walking to keep you blood moving and strengthen your muscles.
  • Avoid strenuous activity, heavy lifting and driving while you are taking pain medication.
  • Follow up with your doctor who will monitor your healing and discuss the results of your procedure.

Recovering from a thoracotomy will involve a longer hospital stay but much of your at home recovery is the same. Be sure to inspect your incision for signs of infection, take your pain medication and ease into any activities. It can be 6 to 8 weeks before resuming activities that might stress your healing incisions.

It is common to feel depressed and anxious after major surgery. You might even have trouble eating or sleeping. There may be much anxiety if you are awaiting results of a biopsy that might indicate you have cancer. Allow those around you to help you with your feelings and be sure to discuss this with your doctor as well.

When to Call Your Doctor

  • Very red or draining incision
  • Sudden, severe shortness of breath
  • Sudden, sharp chest pain
  • Fever over 101 degrees F (or 38.3 C)
  • Rapid heartbeat or "fluttering" in your chest

Your doctor or nurses may also give you other signs and symptoms to watch for. Do not hesitate to call for any concerns. If you think your symptom is life threatening, call 911 or go to the Emergency Room.

This information is provided by the Department of Surgery at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. It is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.


CU Anschutz

Academic Office One

12631 East 17th Avenue

Room: 6111

Aurora, CO 80045


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