Oncologist Dr. Belinda Yeoh and a patient


Common post operative experiences


A lack of appetite is very common and it may take a week or two to return. You may also have a "strange" taste in your mouth, this will also settle in a week or two.

You should try to continue to drink fluids even while your appetite is poor.

Concentration & memory

It is common to have a lack of concentration and reduced short-term memory initially after the operation. These will get back to normal over the next few weeks.


This is common after the operation and may be due to some medications you are given. Increasing your fluid intake, eating more fibre and taking mild laxatives if necessary can treat this. Please tell the staff of any problems you are having.


Bad dreams, nightmares and hallucinations occasionally occur after the operation. It is good to discuss them with the staff but be reassured that they are not unusual and do not last long.


It is common to be more emotional after the surgery and you may find that you cry without knowing why. Some patients also find that they are more irritable and have a shorter temper than usual. You may also feel "down" for a week or so. This also will settle after a few weeks.


You will find that you are very tired after the operation. Your strength will gradually return. Most patients eventually reach a high level of fitness, generally higher than most normal people in the community, however this takes four to six months.

Internal mammary artery pain

If you have had Internal Mammary Arteries taken (arteries from inside the chest wall) you may experience more pain on the (L) or (R) side of your chest near your nipple.

Leg wound numbness

It is common after the operation to have numbness along the suture lines. If you have leg wounds this may also extend down into your ankle.

Radial artery pain & numbness

It is common to also have numbness from the radial artery suture line. You may have heavy bruising that takes a few weeks to fade. You may also have pain from this area particularly when you extend your wrist. This is common and the pain killers help. The sutures that are under the skin can aggravate this and they take 6 – 8 weeks to dissolve.

Neck & shoulder pain

This is common after the operation. You will be given exercises by the physiotherapist to help to ease this discomfort. It is important that you do these exercises.


Extra beats and some palpitations can occur. If they are very quick and make you feel dizzy, sweaty or faint you must tell the staff. The occasional extra beat is normal as is an increased awareness of your heart beat.

Sleep disturbance

Many patients do not sleep well when they are in hospital and it is important to rest and try to catch up with lost sleep when you get home. It is also common not to sleep well the first night at home. Your sleep pattern may take a few days to return to normal. If you continue to wake at night after a few weeks, you should tell your doctor.

Sternal pain

Your chest and wound will be sore after the operation. It is important that you take the pain killers offered to you as they will help you to do your physiotherapy with less discomfort. You may also sleep better if you take the pain killers so that you can get more comfortable in bed. Please ask the staff for these if you have discomfort.


Slightly blurred vision can occur after the surgery because the focal length of the eyes is a little different for a while. This usually takes a few weeks to settle. Do not buy new glasses during the first three months after the operation.