Robotic Thoracic Surgery Typical Recovery Plan

Your Robotic Thoracic Surgery Typical Recovery Plan

This handout provides information about the specific day to day occurrences following a TYPICAL hospitalization.

Before your surgery, Dr. Lewis and members of your healthcare team will review with you the details of your surgical procedure and your recovery.  The goal of the recovery plan is to help you gain independence in your personal care and daily activities before you return home.  Your participation, as well as the participation of the people who will assist with your care at home, is vital increasing your independence.  The healthcare team will work with you as you progress on your road to recovery.

This recovery plan is only a guide.  The typical length of stay is 2-4 days.  Each patient’s daily activities may vary.  All pre op questions may be answered by Dr. Lewis, Margaret Angelillo CRNP, or Richard Stephens P.A.  You may contact them by calling the office at 205-786-2776.  During the hospitalization questions may be answered by the same team.  All questions after discharge from the hospital should be referred back to the office.

Robotic Thoracic Surgery Typical Recovery Plan

Day of Surgery:

  • PLEASE do not eat or drink after midnight the day of your surgery. It is very important you tell the nurses if you have.
  • You should have stopped your blood thinner (if on any) prior to surgery, as instructed by our office. If you haven’t, or are unsure, let the nurses know.
  • A nurse in pre-admission testing will talk with you and prepare you for surgery. You have already had lab work and tests done, but we might do some more lab work at this time.
  • Your family will be directed to go to the family waiting room on the 3rd floor while you are in surgery.  Your belongings will be moved to your room on the floor. After surgery, you will wake up in the CICU. Expect to spend 1-2 days here. Often, just one day.
  • Dr. Lewis or a member of his team will talk to your family after surgery.  Your family may visit you later in your room.
  • You may wake up with a breathing tube. This is usually removed the day of surgery.
  • You will do breathing and coughing exercises every hour while you are awake.  You will have an intravenous (IV) line in your neck, arm, or hand.  You may have more than one.
  • You will have chest tubes near your incision.  Medication for pain will be provided as you need it.  You will have blood drawn after surgery also.

Post operative Day 1

  • Dr. Lewis or his team will see you early in the morning.
  • You and your family will begin to help in your daily cares (bathing, teeth brushing, hair combing). Your oxygen will be removed.
  • You will be placed on a regular diet.
  • You should sit up in the chair or in an upright position when you eat.  This helps with swallowing.  Your chest tube will be removed in the following couple days.
  • After your chest tube bandages are removed, wash area with soap and water.
  • The most important thing you can do to speed your recovery is to do breathing and coughing exercises every hour while you are awake and to walk three to four times a day starting today.
  • Dr. Lewis will write a letter to your home doctor.  Please make sure he has the correct doctors’ name and address that you want to receive a letter.


  • Continue being very active at home. Walk five to six times per day, especially outside or at a mall.  Use your incentive spirometer at least two to three times per day.
  • Confirm your appointment with Dr. Lewis’ office 205-786-2776 if you were not provided a date.
  • Your home management includes:
  1. Pain Management: You will be given a prescription for pain pills.  Please notify the office that you need a refill prior to the weekend or upcoming holiday.  You should allow 24hrs for your refill to be called into the pharmacy.
  2. Activity: NO DRIVING while on narcotics (we often say two weeks)
  3. Lifting: No lifting greater than 5-8 lbs for 2 weeks
  4. Arm exercises: Walking up the wall on affected side and stretching arm over head
  5. Chest tube site:  You may remove the dressing from this site after 1 day. You may have drainage from the chest tube sites; this is normal.  Please call if this drainage continues and is foul smelling.
  6. Showering: You may shower when your chest tube dressing is removed.  You may shower, using soap on the incision and patting it dry.  No tub baths or submersion of the chest tube sites for 2 weeks after surgery.


  1. Pain/burning/numbness/tingling sensation to upper back, shoulder, under breast, and abdomen- You may find adding Motrin (600mg every eight hours) or Aleve (Take as directed) with your pain medication is helpful (if you do not have a history of bleeding ulcer or kidney disease and can take ibuprofen)
  2. Frequent Cough. You may find taking Robitussin will decrease the cough
  3. Hypersensitivity of skin
  4. Constipation- The Pain medication can make you constipated. You should have a bowel movement at least every other day, if not take Milk of Magnesia or a laxative of your choice.
  5. Continue to increase your activity over the next two weeks.  It is common to be tired in the afternoon after being up and active that morning.  You may find a nap or rest early afternoon helpful.