What to Expect After Valve Surgery

Contact Information

(608) 263-1530


Our Services

Heart Valve Clinic

UW Health Heart and Vascular surgeons perform valve surgery on many types of heart valve disease.


Immediately Following Valve Surgery

  • After surgery, you will be taken directly to the intensive care unit (ICU) for recovery. Within four to five hours, our goal is to have your breathing tube out and have you breathing on your own again.
  • You will remain in the ICU overnight while we monitor your heart function and other vital signs.
  • Over the next few days, your level of care will decrease to intermediate and then general care. Most patients are able to leave the hospital four to five days after surgery.

Recovery at Home

  • It takes about 12 weeks for your breastbone to fully heal.
  • As you recover, you will begin to feel stronger and more independent. This may take weeks to months.
  • You are encouraged and expected to walk frequently as you recover at home. Be as active as you can while keeping in mind your activity restrictions. Your goal is 30-45 minutes of continuous activity most days of the week.
  • You will return to the cardiac surgery clinic for one or two follow-up appointments. If you are healing well and your valve is functioning properly, no further surgical follow up is needed. You will then continue your heart care with your regular heart doctor.
  • Patients who have undergone valve surgery must notify their primary doctor prior to dental or other invasive procedures.
  • Your doctor will give you antibiotics to prevent infection to your heart valve.
  • Some patients will need blood-thinning medications to reduce the risk of blood clots or stroke after surgery.