Home Care after Sympathectomy
What is a Sympathectomy?
This is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that destroys the nerve supply to sweat glands in the armpits and palms.
This handout is a review of things you need to know about caring for yourself at home. Your nurse will go over this with you. If you have any questions, please let us know.
- Have someone drive you home following the procedure.
- Do not lift more than 10 pounds (gallon of milk) for 405 days following surgery.
- You have two sutures on either side of your body. These will be removed at your follow-up visit. The other incisions have sutures that will be absorbed by your body.
- Keep all dressings clean and dry.
- Keep the chest tube dressing and clear Tegaderm® dressing on for 48 hours. After 48 hours, remove dressing and leave the sites open to air. If there is drainage, cover the site with a clean dressing or Band-aid®. Change the dressing daily until there is no more drainage.
- Do not soak your incisions in water. Do not swim or sit in a bathtub or hot tub until incisions are fully healed. This takes about 2 weeks.
- You have paper-like strips (Steri-strips) on your upper incisions. Do not remove these. They will peel off by themselves in 3-5 days or will be removed at your follow up visit.
Use the medicine prescribed by your doctor. Typically Tylenol® 650 – 1000 mg every 6 hours or Ibuprofen® 800 mg every 8 hours will be prescribed.
- When taking Tylenol®. Make sure you do not exceed 4000 mg (4 grams) in a 24 hour period.
- When taking Ibuprofen®, make sure you take it with a full stomach for no more than 7 days. Call your doctor at once if you have symptoms of bleeding in your stomach or intestines. This includes black, bloody, or tarry stools, or coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds.
Avoid aspirin unless told otherwise by your doctor. Aspirin can increase bleeding.
When to Call your Doctor
Pain that is not controlled with your pain pills
Any sign of infection
- Incisions that are red or warm to the touch
- Pus-like drainage from incision or chest tube sites
- Temperature greater than 101.5° F (by mouth), for two readings, 4 hours apart
- A large amount of swelling, bleeding, or bruising at the incision or chest tube sites
Monday-Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm: Call the Thoracic surgery clinic at
After hours, weekends and holidays - Call the paging operator at
(608) 262-2122. Ask to speak with the cardiothoracic resident or fellow. Leave your name and phone number, the doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area please call toll free: 1-800-323-8942.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 03/06/2013
Copyright © 02/26/2010 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6313
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