Going Home After Your Craniotomy
Do not drive until it is okayed by your doctor. Avoid flying for 2 – 4 weeks. If you plan air travel within six weeks, you should discuss it with your doctor.
You and your doctor will discuss when you are ready to return to work. Most people are quite fatigued and need six weeks to recover. You may need a longer or shorter time based on how you are feeling and the type of job you do.
How much you do depends on your level of comfort and fatigue. Guide your routine by how your body feels. Be aware of safety risks caused by fatigue, headaches, and possible memory problems.
Until seen by your doctor at your follow-up visit, you should avoid heavy lifting, sports, running, etc. Do not use heavy or high-speed machinery.
Resume your normal diet. Try to increase the amount of fluids and fiber (fruits and vegetables) you eat because your pain pills may make you constipated.
Increase your fiber intake, as noted above. Drink plenty of fluids, unless told to do otherwise by your doctor. Walk and be as active as you are able within your restrictions. If you do have problems, you may use a stool softener, laxative, or Fleets® enema which can be bought over-the-counter.
It is safe to shower when you feel strong enough. You can wash your entire head with regular shampoo. Avoid using a conditioner, dandruff shampoo, or any combined shampoo/conditioner products for 3 months. These products can slow healing by causing a build-up of dry skin. They may cause irritation to the incision. The scabbed area will heal over time. If you have staples
and sutures, it is easier to remove them if the incision is kept clean. If you can’t shower, clean the incision daily with mild soap and water.
You may have numbness, itching, and scabs at the incision site. This is normal. It may take a number of months for the numbness to go away.
Look at your incision daily. Keep it clean and dry. Do not rub the incision. Pat dry. Do not apply creams. Call your doctor if you notice any signs of infection. These could include:
Increased redness, swelling.
Marked increase in pain.
Fever greater than 100ºF.
After your sutures are removed, you should still avoid dandruff shampoo and conditioners for 3 months. Avoid use of permanent curling solutions and hair dyes for 3 months. Protect the area from sun and cold.
If you have a headache, it should improve slowly. As your pain improves, you will need to decrease the amount of narcotic pain medicines you take. Instead try plain Tylenol® or Extra Strength Tylenol®. Follow instructions for use on the bottle. Do not exceed 4,000 mg per day. Keep in mind that your narcotic pain medicine may also contain Tylenol® or acetaminophen.
If you are still having severe or increasing headaches, call your doctor.
Reasons to Call Your Doctor
Severe or increasing headaches
Changes in your vision
Continued nausea or vomiting
Change in behavior
Problems with walking or balance
Any drainage from your incision or any signs of infection, as listed above
Most incisions are closed with Dermabond® glue. If you have staples or stitches, they will be removed in 7-14 days at your follow-up clinic visit.
If you have any questions or concerns once you are home, you can call
Dr. __________________________ at (608) 263-1410 or 263-1411.
After hours, this phone number will reach the paging operator. Ask for the neurosurgery resident-on-call. Give your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
Nurse Practitioners: Monday-Friday: 608-265-2140 or 608-263-5227 or 608-262-4401.
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #7072
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: 03/13/2013
Copyright © 03/13/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4452
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