• Keep your surgical dressing on, clean, and, dry!

  • Keep the surgical site elevated if possible.

  • Unless otherwise directed, it’s good to gently move any un-splinted part of your limb. If your thumb is immobilized and your fingers are not, it’s fine to gently move your fingers.

  • If you’ve had shoulder surgery and are in a sling, it is OK to remove the sling daily and move your elbow, wrist, and fingers to keep them from getting stiff. NO NOT move your shoulder (keep your arm and elbow at your side) unless I give you the OK.

  • Take your pain medication as directed. Try to get some medication in your system before your block (if you had one) wears off. A general rule is to take a pill as soon as you feel your limb start to wake up…. before the pain hits.
    If you’re able to take NSAIDS (Aleeve, Advil, Ibuprofen, etc.) you may take them in addition to your narcotic pain medication. Do not exceed the allowed dose of the NSAID you may choose to take. DO NOT take additional Tylenol. Please call 639-9009 if you have any questions about your post-operative pain

  • Put an ice pack on the surgical site, over the dressing, 20 minutes per hour while you’re awake. You may do this for the first two days. To make an ice bag, put some ice and a little water in a gallon sized plastic freezer bag, put that bag in a second bag.

  • Your surgical discharge sheet should include instructions telling you when you may remove your dressing.
    If your dressing includes a hard splint (thumb reconstruction, fracture surgery, certain types of elbow surgery, tendon repair, etc.), you will need to continue wearing it until you see me at your first post op appointment 10 to 14 days after surgery.
    If you have a simple soft dressing (shoulder surgery, carpal tunnel surgery, trigger finger release, etc.) you may remove your dressing 4 days after surgery.
    If you’re in doubt, CALL THE OFFICE at 639-9009

  • You will need to cover your dressing to keep it from getting wet when bathing. If you are allowed to remove the dressing (as above), you may get the surgical area wet in the shower. Do not submerge the surgical area in water (pool, hot tub, bath tub, dish water, etc.) until the stitches are removed.

  • Put a band-aid or other appropriate dressing over the stitches to keep them from snagging on clothing after dressing removal.

  • You do not need to use any antibiotic ointment on the surgical wound after dressing removal.

  • Call the office immediately at 639-9009 if you have any questions about your wound. We are there to take care of you and under NO circumstance should you wonder if something is OK or not.

  • Do not operate power equipment – car, motorcycle, power saws, etc.

  • Do not make any complicated decisions.

  • Advance diet slowly. Start with liquids, but avoid alcoholic beverages.

  • You should be accompanied by an adult at all times.

  • Nausea and vomiting occasionally occur after surgery. If you are nauseated, remain on clear liquids until it passes. If it persists for any length of time at home, notify your physician.


Things you should be concerned about:

  • Bleeding through the dressing

  • Worsening pain at the surgical site

  • Persistent fever

  • Increasing redness and warmth at the surgical site or in the operative limb

  • Persistent drainage from the wound

  • Excessive swelling (if you’re concerned so am I, although it may be normal)

  • Worsening numbness in the operative limb after surgery (unless you had a nerve block, in which case the limb may be numb for 24 hours)

  • As already mentioned. CALL 639-9009

  • Certain restrictions apply to the 24 hours following surgery if you have had a general anesthetic (were put to sleep during surgery) or sedation.



A note about narcotics
They are intended to be a part of your post-operative pain control regimen. Most patients’ need them in the immediate post op period but are off of them within a few days depending on the type of surgery they had. Narcotics have numerous side effects ranging from nausea and vomiting to constipation to respiratory depression and death. Do not mix them with alcohol.

GENERAL Post-Operative instructions