When you wake up after your operation your neck will hurt in the front and back. The pain in the front goes away quite quickly-within a few hours in most people. Rarely it hurts for a day or two. The pain at the back of your neck is “referred” pain just like the pain people get in their left arm when they are having a heart attack. Some people don’t have any pain in the back of the neck, but when it does occur, it will get better within a day or two.
Pain goes away very quickly
Typically, the pain in your neck is reduced by half every half hour (“half and half”). So when you first wake up and it hurts, be confident that in an hour or two it is almost all gone. Narcotics don’t help this, time does. The 3 “i’s” help as well: ice-pack, ice cream, and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Aleve, ibuprofen, etc). Some patients say that they can feel something different for the first few days when they swallow. Not necessarily pain, just feels different. You can expect this. Read more about this in the blue Post-Op Questions section of this app.
Swelling under the band-aid
Your wound will be a little puffy. This is expected, and it can be this way for up to 6 weeks until all of the stitches dissolve and the healing takes place. The muscles in the front of your neck will be sore for a few days. It may even bruise a little – no big deal. This is just a reaction to the stitches inside. Every now and then this reaction includes some swelling that looks like a “ping pong ball” behind or above the incision–again, no big deal. This always goes away. There is more about this in the orange Frequent Questions section of the app.
What to eat
Most people eat “regular” food the night of surgery, but a few want to stick to soft foods. We simply tell you to eat whatever you want. Remember: There’s no trophy awarded to you for going out to dinner the night of surgery– most do, but not everybody. Most people leave here about 1.5 to 2 hours after the operation. We have much more information on what you can eat and what you can do in the Post-Op section of this app (the blue section).
You will still be sleepy when you leave. Most people nap for 2-3 hours after they leave us. After napping all afternoon at their home or hotel, some folks want to go shopping and out to dinner. Some want to stay in and have soup. Do what is right for you. This is not a sign of weakness or a sign that you are not keeping pace with other patients. Take it easy if you want. Tomorrow is always better. Good things are going to happen!