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Laparoscopy is a visual exam of the soft parts of the body between the rib margins and the hips. It is often done to explore the body and help diagnose certain conditions. 

Getting Ready for Surgery

You may take a bowel prep to prepare for surgery. We will discuss the details with you. 

After Surgery

  • Expect some pain and bruising at the incisions.

  • Your abdomen may be swollen for a few days.

  • You may be tired and have muscle aches for a day or two.

  • You may have mild nausea for a day or two. 

Incision Care

  • It is normal for incisions to be slightly puffy, numb, pink, and have a small amount of clear, light pink drainage. 

  • Expect the incisions to heal within 2 weeks. 

  • Keep incisions dry and covered for 48 hours (2 days) after surgery. Then, you may shower and wash them with mild soap and water and pat dry. Do not soak in the bathtub, hot tub, or swim until they are healed.

  • You do not have to wear a dressing unless wounds are in a skin fold, your clothes rub on them, or they are draining. If you wear a dressing, change it at least once a day and more often if it gets wet.


  • Do not drive for the first 24 hours or if you are taking opioid pain pills. 

  • It is okay to resume your normal routine after 24 hours. 

  • Do not lift more than 10 – 15 pounds.

  • Ask your doctor when you may resume sex. 

  • Avoid all tobacco and second hand smoke. 

Pain Relief

It is normal to have some pain. You may be taking opioid pain medicine to help improve your comfort. Opioids are a stronger pain medicine than what you can buy over-the-counter. You should only take them when you are in moderate to severe pain. Not everyone’s pain response requires opioids for comfort. Most people will only need to take an over the counter medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®). You may have aching in your neck and shoulders from the gas put into your abdomen. Using a heating pad to this area and/or walking may help relieve this pain better than medicines.


You will usually start eating clear liquids (Jell-O, juice, broth) after surgery. As your bowel function starts to return you will be able to eat a regular diet. When you start eating, go slowly and only eat what feels and tastes good. If you begin to feel sick to your stomach or full, you should stop eating.

Prevent Constipation

A diet high in fluid and fiber can help prevent constipation. Be sure to drink 6-8 glasses of liquids each day. You may want to use a stool softener, docusate sodium (Colace®) and/or a bulk fiber laxative to prevent problems while you are taking pain pills and until you have your first bowel movement.

When to Call 

  • Nausea or vomiting for more than 24 hours.

  • Check daily for signs of infection:

    • Increased redness or warmth of incisions.

    • Increased bloody or pus-like drainage.

    • Excess swelling or bleeding.

    • Fever (by mouth) above 100.4 ° F for 2 readings, taken 4 hours apart.

  • Pain not controlled by pain pills.

  • Excess bruising.

  • If you have not had a bowel movement in 2-3 days, you may need a laxative.

Who to Call

Surgery Clinic: (608) 263-7502. This is a 24-hour number. 

After hours, weekends and holidays ask for the doctor on call for Dr. ______________________________. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.

The toll-free number is: 1-800-323-8942

If you are a patient receiving care at UnityPoint – Meriter, Swedish American or a health system outside of UW Health, please use the phone numbers provided in your discharge instructions for any questions or concerns.