FAQs about Thoracic Surgery

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Swedish Thoracic Surgery / First Hill

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How Long Will I Be in the Hospital?

Most patients are in the hospital an average of 3-5 days after surgery, depending on the type of surgical procedure performed.  Based on the level of care that you need after surgery, you may spend part of that time in the intensive care unit, a step down unit or on the general surgical floor.  Most of our patients will recover on 7SW and will go home from there.  Occasionally, some patients will need additional recovery time at a skilled nursing facility prior to going home.  Swedish’s Care Coordination Department will assist with any arrangements that need to be made before you leave the hospital.

When Can I Start Driving Again?

Driving should be avoided after surgery until you have your follow-up appointment and are cleared by your surgeon.  Pain medication and decreased mobility can make driving unsafe.  Generally, patients are ready to drive when they can walk a flight of stairs and/or they have discontinued their pain medications.

When Can I Return to Work?

Your ability to return to work will depend on a number of factors. Depending on the type of surgery you have, you may feel ready to return to work in a few days.  For patients undergoing larger operations, your return to work may take a full six weeks.  And for patients needing additional treatment after surgery, it may take even longer.  Some patients return to work part-time until they are able to tolerate working full-time.  We will work with you and your employer to get you back to work when it is reasonable to do so.