What can I expect after my prostatectomy?

Knowing what to expect can help make your road to recovery after prostatectomy as smooth as possible. 

How long will it take to recover?

You will stay in the recovery room after surgery until you are alert, breathing effectively, and your vital signs are stable. You may have a sore throat if a tube was placed in your windpipe during surgery. This is usually temporary, but tell your care team if you are uncomfortable.

You will have a catheter in your penis. This tube is in place to drain urine from your bladder and give your urethra time to heal. Your catheter will stay in place from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the type of prostatectomy that you had. 

You may also have a small tube in your lower abdomen that is attached to a bag into which fluid from the surgical site can drain. Your healthcare team will most likely remove this tube before you leave the hospital. 

You may go home the same day of your surgery after a laparoscopic prostatectomy or TURP. Otherwise, you may stay for up to about four days. Recovery after surgery is a gradual process. Recovery time varies depending on the procedure, type of anesthesia, your general health, age, and other factors. Full recovery takes a few weeks to a few months.

Will I feel pain?

Pain control is important for healing and a smooth recovery. There will be discomfort after your surgery. Your doctor will treat your pain so you are comfortable and can get the rest you need. Tell your doctor or care team if your pain gets worse or changes because it may be a sign of a complication.

When should I call my doctor?

It is important to keep your follow-up appointments after a prostatectomy. Contact your doctor for questions and concerns between appointments. Call your doctor right away or seek immediate medical care if you have:

  • Bleeding of your incision, urine that is more bloody than expected, or bleeding from your penis
  • Breathing problems, such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, labored breathing, or wheezing
  • Change in alertness, such as passing out, unresponsiveness, or confusion
  • Chest pain, chest tightness, chest pressure, or palpitations
  • Fever. A low-grade fever (lower than 101 degrees Fahrenheit) is common for a couple of days after surgery. It is not necessarily a sign of a surgical infection. However, you should follow your doctor's specific instructions about when to call for a fever.
  • Inability to have a bowel movement or pass gas
  • Leg pain, redness or swelling, especially in the calf, which may indicate a blood clot
  • Not producing enough urine
  • Numbness or tingling in the genitals 
  • Pain that is not controlled by your pain medication, new pain, or severe abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Sudden and new abdominal swelling
  • Unexpected drainage, pus, redness or swelling of your incision

How might prostatectomy affect my everyday life?

A prostatectomy can help cure prostate cancer or greatly alleviate the symptoms of enlarged prostate so you can lead a more active, healthy life. If your prostate was enlarged by benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or prostate cancer, a prostatectomy may help you gain better urination control and relieve pain with urination. 

Life after a prostatectomy generally includes performing many of your former everyday activities, such as exercising, traveling, working, and having a healthy sex life. 

In some cases, a prostatectomy changes sexual function. You will no longer ejaculate if your surgeon removed your entire prostate. You may also need medication or devices to help you gain and maintain erections.

Talk to your surgeon about how different prostatectomy procedures might affect sexual function and which procedure is best for your condition and lifestyle goals.