Recovery Times For 10 Common Procedures
Sometimes surgery is an emergency, such as after your appendix ruptures or you have a heart attack. Other times, you have the luxury of considering the pros and cons of a particular procedure. Recovery time can be an important consideration in your choice of whether to have surgery or which type of surgery may be the best option. Some newer surgical approaches take less time to recover from than traditional methods. Here are typical recovery times for 10 of the most common surgical procedures in the United States.
About 2 million Americans have cataract surgery each year, a number that is growing along with our aging population. This procedure involves replacing clouded lenses with artificial, intraocular lenses to improve vision. It typically is done on an outpatient basis, such as in an ambulatory surgery center. Increasingly, it is being performed in your eye doctor’s office.
Full healing for cataract surgery can take up to eight weeks. However, you can often resume daily activities as soon as the next day.
Nearly one-third of all U.S. births in 2019 were by Cesarean section (also known as C-section)—nearly 1.2 million babies. This procedure involves delivering your baby surgically, via incisions in your abdomen and uterus. Because this is considered a major surgery, you likely will remain in the hospital for about three days following the procedure. The normal recovery time for a C-section is about 6 to 8 weeks, at which point you can resume all your usual activities.
3Inguinal Hernia Repair
About 1 million Americans undergo hernia surgery annually, with about 800,000 of those procedures being for inguinal hernias. These occur when intestinal or other tissue protrudes into your abdominal wall. Recovery time depends on the surgical method your surgeon chooses.
For laparoscopic repair, in which doctors use special tools to make several small incisions, recovery is 1 to 2 weeks to resume light activity and full recovery at four weeks. For ’open” repair, in which a traditional, single large incision is made, recovery is three weeks for light activity and six weeks for full recovery.
4Total Knee Replacement
You may need to have your knee joint replaced due to arthritis, injury or other conditions. This surgery has become more commonplace in recent years. In 2017, more than 754,000 replacements were performed in the U.S.
Recovery time if you have a sedentary job or lifestyle is about 4 to 6 weeks. However, if you have a mobile job or lifestyle—such as one that involves a lot of lifting, walking and travel—expect your recovery time to take up to three months.
5Total Hip Replacement
As with knee replacement, you may need this due to damage caused by arthritis or injury (such as a broken hip). More than 450,000 total hip replacements are performed each year.
Recovery time for you to resume most daily activities is up to six weeks. You may return to a sedentary job within 4 to 6 weeks. By three months, most people are fully recovered and free to resume a mobile job or other strenuous activities. However, your doctor may advise you to permanently give up a few high-impact, repetitive activities, such as marathon running, basketball or mogul skiing, because these can damage your replacement hip.
About 600,000 women undergo hysterectomies annually, usually for non-cancerous conditions such as uterine fibroids. Hysterectomies can be performed in several ways, with differing recovery times. An abdominal hysterectomy, the most common type, is performed as “open” surgery with a recovery time of 6 to 8 weeks. A vaginal hysterectomy, in which the uterus is removed through the vagina, has an initial recovery time of 3 to 4 weeks; it’s another 6 weeks before you can lift more than 20 pounds and resume sexual intercourse. A robotic-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy is minimally invasive and you can resume normal activity within one week.
7Coronary Artery Bypass Graft
The coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) is the most common type of heart surgery performed in the U.S. About 350,000 to 500,000 such procedures are done every year to help restore patients to cardiac health. These surgeries use veins grafted from the legs or chest to reroute blood flow around potentially life-threatening blocked arteries.
You can usually return to work and resume exercising 4 to 6 weeks after your coronary bypass procedure, assuming you’ve had no complications. Full recovery time is six weeks to three months.
8Cholecystectomy (Gallbladder Removal)
About 500,000 gallbladder removal surgeries occur each year. Your gallbladder may need to be removed if you are prone to gallstones or for other reasons. Most of the time it can be taken out laparoscopically, which is less invasive than traditional “open” surgery and which has a faster recovery time. You can usually go home the same day, with recovery taking about one week.
Sometimes, “open” cholecystectomy is indicated. Here a large incision through the abdominal wall is necessary. This requires staying in the hospital 2 to 3 days, with a recovery time of 4 to 6 weeks.
About 500,000 children under 15 have their tonsils taken out annually, usually for repeated throat infections or obstructive sleep apnea. Recovery time for the procedure is about 10 days to two weeks, with throat pain and bad breath lasting up to two weeks.
However, for adults who have this operation, the route to recovery can sometimes be bumpier. About 20% experienced complications in a 2014 study of 36,000 patients by California researchers. One in 10 adult patients felt sick enough to visit the emergency room within two weeks of their tonsillectomy, with about 1.5% being admitted. Complaints included pain, postoperative hemorrhage, and dehydration.
About 250,000 appendectomies are performed in the U.S. each year. Most patients who have their appendixes removed can go home the same day or the next day, since most have their appendixes taken out laparoscopically. With this procedure, recovery time is about 1 to 3 weeks.
However, some patients require open surgery due to ruptured appendixes or other complications. This is a more invasive approach that requires a longer recovery period: about 2 to 4 weeks.