How to Recover from Prostate Cancer Surgery

If you are about to undergo surgery for prostate cancer, you likely feel some anxiety about the procedure. One way to cope with this is to become an informed patient. Question your doctor thoroughly about the specific procedure you will undergo. Ask him about how you should prepare for the surgery and what to expect afterward. Ask him about the possible risks and side effects. Discuss what you should do to help your bodywhile recovering from prostate cancer surgery. It’s important to follow your doctor’s specific guidelines.

What is recovery time from prostate surgery?

Recovery time for prostate cancer surgery can vary, depending on the specific type of procedure that you undergo. An open surgery will require more recovery time than a laparoscopic or robotic surgery.

In general, expect to stay in the hospital for one to two days. When you return home, have someone else drive you there. You do not necessarily need a nurse to care for you at home, but you should have a family member or a friend stay with you for at least a few days or longer. Expect to rest for about one to two weeks before returning to light activity. Avoid heavy lifting (anything heavier than 5 lbs.) for two to three weeks. Avoid driving until after your catheter is removed, or until your doctor clears you for driving.

Wound care

Follow your doctor’s instructions regarding wound care. He may tell you to leave the bandage on for a couple of days. The incision area must be kept dry for a period of time. Your doctor will tell you when you will be able to shower (or you may be able to use a waterproof dressing). Clean the incision area according to your doctor’s instructions and always use a new, sterile dressing.

Monitor the area for any changes and contact your doctor if you notice unusual redness, discharge, or swelling. Bruising is common and will resolve itself.

Physical activity

It’s important to rest often and stick to only light activities for several weeks. Preferably, rest with your feet propped up on a stool. However, some movement is necessary to help prevent blood clots. If you sit with your feet on the floor for 15 minutes or longer, try to remember to stand up and stretch or walk around the room for a minute. You may have trouble walking up and down the stairs for a few days.

Pelvic floor exercises

Your doctor can advise you when you may start doing pelvic floor exercises, or Kegel exercises. Doing these can help reduce symptoms of urinary incontinence. When your doctor does give approval for Kegel exercises, start with gentle contractions for no longer than three seconds at a time.

Possible risks and side effects

Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of prostate cancer surgery. The risks of any surgery can include blood clots, bleeding, infection, pain, and complications from anesthesia. Patients who undergo prostate cancer surgery also run the risk of urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction, nerve damage, lymphedema, changes in orgasm, and damage to the rectum or urethra. Contact your doctor if you experience any new or worsening pain, or any other side effects.

Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.