Post Laparotomy (open surgery)

  • You may require four to six weeks off work, depending on your type of employment and the nature of your illness.
  • Your abdominal wound may have staples or stitches covered by a dressing. Our team will advise you if/when these are to be removed.
  • You will be given specific discharge medication if required, but you may use paracetamol (Panadol) as required (one to two tablets every four hours up to a maximum of eight tablets per day).
  • It is important for you to shower rather than bath until the skin cut has healed
  • It is important for you to use sanitary pads and not tampons for the first two weeks
  • You will be able to drive a car once you are comfortable to drive 
  • You should not lift objects heavier than 5 kgs for at least 6 weeks, or as instructed by our doctors
  • You should not perform vigorous exercise for at least 6 weeks, or as advised by our doctors
  • If you have had a hysterectomy (removal of uterus) you should not have intercourse for 8 weeks
  • You will usually have a follow up visit with our team at 7 and 14 days post surgery and then at 6 weeks post surgery

Post-operative Problems

 Common Issues:

  • Constipation: You should avoid straining hard to pass stool. If you do not open your bowels for more than two-three days you may need to take or increase the use of regular bowel medication such as Movicol, Docusate Sodium, Senna, or Lactulose. 
  • Pain: wound tenderness and discomfort is uaual and may last up to 3-4 weeks. You should be be able to walk reasonably comfortably with analgesia
  • Wound infections are uncommon. The usual sign of an infection is that the skin around the wound becomes very red and hot or there may be discharge from the wound. Small infections may settle after the discharge is cleaned away and an antiseptic like Betadine is applied twice daily. If you are concerned about the wound please contact us; it is possible antibiotics may be required.


The following signs and symptoms are not part of a normal recovery:

  • a fever > 38.5°C or are feeling unwell
  • offensive vaginal discharge or heavy bleeding or urine-like heavy discharge
  • wound becomes hot, painful or has offensive fluid draining from it
  • nausea and vomiting which does not settle
  • unable to empty your bladder or bowel
  • severe pain.
  • Tenderness or swelling in a leg/calf