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Side effects of surgery

  • Pain. You will have some pain or discomfort. It is best to let your doctor or nurse know when you are feeling uncomfortable – don’t wait until the pain becomes severe.
  • Lymph fluid build-up. If the lymph nodes in your groin have been removed, there is a risk of swelling of one or both of your legs. The lymph nodes normally help to remove lymph fluid from your legs. Removing the nodes can block the flow of lymph so that it collects in the tissues under your skin. This can make your legs swell and is called lymphoedema. The condition can develop a few months or even years after treatment. Many hospitals have a nurse or physiotherapist who specialises in treating lymphoedema. Swelling in your limbs may be reduced with gentle massage toward your heart, special compression garments and gentle exercise.
  • Effect on your emotions and sex life.  Surgery can impact on your emotions and sex life in a huge way.

Recovery after surgery

How quickly you recover after your operation will depend on the type of surgery you have had. If only a small amount of skin is removed, the wound will probably heal quickly. If your lymph nodes are removed or your surgery is more extensive, recovery will take longer.

You will be encouraged to start gently moving around as soon as possible after your operation. While you are in hospital, the nurse or a physiotherapist will help you do regular gentle leg exercises to prevent blood clots forming, as well as deep breathing exercises to prevent chest infection.

When you go home from hospital, you will need to take things easy for a while. If you have had major surgery, it is very important not to lift any heavy objects for at least six to eight weeks. This will help the wound to heal. It is also advisable to wait about eight weeks before going back to work, but you may need longer if you are healing slowly.

You can usually start driving after six weeks. However, your car insurance company may specify a longer time before you can drive again, so it is a good idea to contact them to check.