How long does it take to recovery from surgery?

Having surgery is overwhelming for most people but your doctor and medical team are there to help you through the process.

Your doctor will provide information to help you understand what you need to do before and after your surgery. Before your surgical procedure they will explain the risks and benefits of your surgery and will give you an idea of the length of your surgery recovery. 

How quickly you recover depends on several factors including your overall health and the type of surgery you need. After surgery, you will need to take care of yourself. This may include making changes to your house or using special pieces of equipment to help with your recovery process.

The information provided below about 4 procedures is general in nature. Your procedure may differ depending on your doctor. If you have any questions or would like more information about your procedure, your doctor is best placed to answer your concerns.

You have the right to change your NDIS disability service provider and to make direct decisions about your care that affect your life.

Your needs may differ from those of other people. It’s up to you to decide if you need support with your health and wellbeing, education or employment, or if you want help to take part in social activities or live independently.

surgery recovery time

Why do you develop cataracts?

Most people will require cataract surgery in their lifetime. If you have a cataract, the lens of your eye, which is located behind the iris or coloured part of the eye, becomes cloudy and eventually your vision becomes affected. You may notice that you have blurry vision and find glare from lights uncomfortable.

Cataracts develop gradually – you may have a cataract in one eye or in both eyes. The formation of cataracts increases as you age, but several factors may cause cataracts to develop sooner. These include:

  • ultraviolet light – exposure to sunlight for long periods
  • certain diseases – for example, your risk may increase if you have diabetes
  • smoking
  • certain medications – for example, oral or inhaled steroids.

Cataract surgery is a common procedure to remove the lens of your eye and replace it with an artificial lens.

What happens during cataract surgery?

Well before your cataract surgery, an ophthalmologist (a specialist eye doctor who performs surgery) will examine your eyes and chose an artificial lens to give you the best vision based on your lifestyle.

Before the surgeon operates you will typically be given:

  • eye drops to dilate your pupil
  • an injection to numb the area around your eye
  • a sedative to help you relax.

During surgery, the ophthalmologist:

  • makes a small cut in your eye
  • uses an ultrasound device to break up the lens into small pieces
  • removes the small pieces using suction
  • inserts a new artificial lens
  • closes the incision and places a protective pad over your eye.

Your ophthalmologist will also give you eye drops to take for several weeks after your surgery. You will also be asked to return to see your ophthalmologist one or two days after surgery.

How long does it take to recover from cataract surgery? 

Typically, it takes at least two months for your eye to completely heal.

Generally, you are not required to stay overnight after your cataract surgery, but you will be asked to wait for approximately 1 hour after your surgery to make sure that the pressure in your eye does not increase. You will need help getting home after your surgery because you will not be able to see properly and might be feeling groggy after the sedative.

When do I need gallbladder surgery?

The gallbladder (a pear-shaped organ below your liver) stores bile that helps your digestion process.

You may need surgery to remove your gallbladder if you develop gallstones (stones made of bile, cholesterol and salts) that can block your gallbladder or cause inflammation of your gallbladder or pancreas.

What happens during gallbladder surgery?

If you need your gallbladder removed, your surgeon will either perform keyhole (laparoscopic cholecystectomy) surgery or open surgery. Approximately 1 per cent of people are not eligible for keyhole surgery. You will be given a general anaesthetic before surgery.

For keyhole surgery, the surgeon:

  • makes small cuts through your abdomen
  • uses gas (carbon dioxide) to inflate your abdominal cavity
  • uses a tube with a camera to guide them
  • removes the gallbladder with instruments passed through the cuts
  • closes the incisions.

The cuts through your abdomen are larger if you undergo open surgery, but the surgeon uses similar techniques to those for keyhole surgery.

How long does it take to recover from gallbladder surgery?

Typically, you can go home on the same day of your keyhole surgery although some people require an overnight stay. If you have open surgery, you will need to stay in hospital for approximately 3–5 days.

It takes between 1–2 weeks to return to your usual activities after keyhole surgery. The surgery recovery time is longer for open surgery – it usually takes between 4–7weeks.

You will also need to look after your wounds and potentially change your wound dressings. Some people may also need personal care to help them with daily activities while they recover.

When do I need hip replacement surgery?

You might require hip replacement surgery if you have a condition such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis or severe hip damage causing constant pain and affecting your ability to go about your daily life.

What happens during hip replacement surgery?

Hip replacement surgery involves replacing part or all of your damaged hip joint under general anaesthetic. The surgeon removes the damaged bone and replaces it with an artificial joint. You may require a partial hip replacement where only the ball at the end of your thigh bone is replaced or a total hip replacement where the ball of the hip and the socket of the hip joint are replaced.

How long does it take to recover from hip replacement surgery?

If you have hip replacement surgery, you will spend at least 1 week in hospital. Depending on your progress you may be able to start doing some everyday activities between 4 to 6 weeks after your surgery. Full recovery may take months.

Initially, you may need to use mobility aids such as walking aids or crutches. Rehabilitation will help your recovery and may assist you to regain your physical abilities. Physiotherapists can help with exercises and occupational therapists can help with advice about how to perform your daily tasks.

When do I need lap band surgery?

Lap band surgery (also called gastric bypass or bariatric surgery) is typically performed to help someone lose weight. This surgery may be an option for you if have:

  • unsuccessfully tried other methods to lose weight
  • serious health problems because of your excessive weight
  • a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more
  • a BMI of less than 35 combined with other serious health conditions (eg. type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure).


What happens during lap band surgery?

Lap band surgery is performed using keyhole (or laparoscopic) surgery. You will be given a general anaesthetic before the procedure begins. Your surgeon will:

  • make small cuts through your abdomen
  • insert a tube with a camera attached to allow them to see inside
  • attach a ring on the top part of your stomach
  • close the incisions.

How long does it take to recover from lap band surgery? 

Typically, you can go home on the same day of your surgery, although some people require an overnight stay. You can resume your regular activities after a couple of days, but you will need to modify the way you eat. Initially, you will only be able to eat liquid food, then pureed food. You can start eating solid food approximately 6 weeks after surgery.

You will also need to look after your wounds and change your wound dressings.

Can I receive funds to cover products and personal care services while I recover from surgery?

The Australian Government provides funding to cover some of the costs of personal care services and consumables such as wound dressings or mobility aids. You may be eligible for NDIS funding or other funding to cover some of the costs of products or services you need while recovering from surgery.

How can Independence Australia help you? 

Find more information about recovering after surgery and NDIS funding at Independence Australia. If you are not sure what is best for your individual situation, we have a number of options for you to get in touch with us.



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