St. Luke's Hospital
Located in Chesterfield, MO
Main Number: 314-434-1500
Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia


    Lung surgery - discharge

    Thoracotomy - discharge; Lung tissue removal - discharge; Pneumonectomy - discharge; Lobectomy - discharge; Lung biopsy - discharge; Thoracoscopy - discharge; Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery - discharge; VATS - discharge

    You had surgery to treat a lung condition. You may have spent time in the intensive care unit (ICU) before going to a regular hospital room. A chest tube to drain fluid from inside your chest was in place part or all of the time you were in the hospital. You may still have it when you go home.

    What to Expect at Home

    It will take 6 to 8 weeks to get your energy back. You may have pain when you move your arm, twist your upper body, and maybe when you breathe in deeply.


    Do not lift anything heavier than about 10 pounds (about a gallon of milk) for 2 weeks after video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery and 6 to 8 weeks after open surgery.

    You may walk 2 or 3 times a day. Start with short distances and slowly increase how far you walk. If you have stairs in your home, go up and down slowly. Take one step at a time. Set up your home so that you do not have to climb stairs too often.

    Remember you will need extra time to rest after being active. If it hurts when you do something, stop doing that activity.

    • Donot do yard work for 3 to 4 weeks after surgery. Donot use a push mower for at least 8 weeks. Ask your doctor or nurse when you can start doing these things again.
    • You can do light housework 2 weeks after surgery.

    It is probably okay to start sexual activity when you can climb 2 flights of stairs without being short of breath. Check with your doctor.

    Make sure your home is safe as you are recovering. For example, remove throw rugs to prevent tripping and falling.To stay safe in the bathroom, installgrab bars to help you get in and out of the tub or shower.

    For the first 6 weeks after your surgery, you must be careful how you use your arms and upper body when you move. Press a pillow over your incision when you need to cough or sneeze.

    Ask your doctor when it is okay to start driving again. Donot drive if you are taking narcotic pain medicine. Drive only short distances at first.Do notdrive when traffic is heavy.

    It is common to take 4 to 6 weeks off work after lung surgery. Ask your doctor when you can go back to work. You may need to adjust your work activities when you first go back, or work only part-time for a while.

    Your doctor will give you a prescription for pain medicine. Get it filledon your wayhome so you have it when you need it. Take your pain medicine when you start having pain. Waiting too long to take it will allow your pain to get worse than it should.


    You will use a breathing device to help you build up strength in your lung. It does this by helping you take deep breaths. Use it 4 to 6 times a day for the first 2 weeks after surgery.

    Wear compression stockings for about 2 weeks after surgery to prevent blood clots from forming in your legs and traveling to your lungs.

    If you smoke, ask your doctor or nurse for help quitting. Donot let others smoke in your house.

    Wound Care

    Keep the dressing (bandage) on your chest-tube wound for 1 to 2 days after your chest tube has been removed. You may have some skin soreness around your chest tube.

    If you have a chest tube:

    • Clean around the tube once a day.
    • If thetube comes out, cover the hole with a clean dressing and call your doctor right away.

    Change the dressing on your incision every day or as often as instructed. Your doctor will also tell you when you no longer need to keep the dressing on your incisions. Wash the wound area with mild soap and water.

    You may take a shower once all of your dressings have been removed.

    • Do not try to wash or scrub off the strips of tape or glue. It will fall off on its own in about a week.
    • Do not soak in a bathtub, pool, or hot tub until your doctor tells you it is okay.

    Sutures (stitches) are usually removed after 7 days. Staples are usually removed after 7 to 14 days. If you have the kind of sutures that are inside your chest, your body will absorb them and you will not need to have them removed.

    When to Call the Doctor

    Call your doctor or nurse if:

    • Your temperature is above 101°F (38.3°C).
    • Your incisions are bleeding, red, warm to the touch, or they have a thick, yellow, green, or milky drainage coming from them.
    • Your pain drugs do not help ease your pain.
    • It is hard to breathe.
    • You have a cough that does not go away, or you are coughing up mucus that is yellow or green, or has blood in it.
    • You cannot drink or eat.
    • Your leg is swelling or you have pain.
    • Your chest, neck, or face is swelling.
    • There is a crack or hole in your chest tube, or your chest tube comes out.
    • You cough up blood.


    Putnam JB Jr. Lung, chest wall, pleura, and mediastinum. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 58.


          A Closer Look

          Talking to your MD

            Self Care

            Tests for Lung surgery - discharge

              Review Date: 2/7/2013

              Reviewed By: Matthew M. Cooper, MD, FACS, Medical Director, Cardiovascular Surgery, HealthEast Care System, St. Paul, MN. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

              The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

              A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.

              Back  |  Top
              About Us
              Contact Us
              Locations & Directions
              Quality Reports
              Annual Reports
              Honors & Awards
              Community Health Needs

              Brain & Spine
              Sleep Medicine
              Urgent Care
              Women's Services
              All Services
              Patients & Visitors
              Locations & Directions
              Find a Physician
              Tour St. Luke's
              Patient & Visitor Information
              Contact Us
              Payment Options
              Financial Assistance
              Send a Card
              Mammogram Appointments
              Health Tools
              My Personal Health
              Spirit of Women
              Health Information & Tools
              Clinical Trials
              Employer Programs -
              Passport to Wellness

              Classes & Events
              Classes & Events
              Spirit of Women
              Donate & Volunteer
              Giving Opportunities
              Physicians & Employees
              For Physicians
              Remote Access
              Medical Residency Information
              Pharmacy Residency Information
              Physician CPOE Training
              St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
              Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Notice of Privacy Practices PDF  |  Patient Rights PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile