Whipple Procedure

Care After

Refer to this sheet in the next few weeks. These instructions provide you with information on caring for yourself after your procedure. Your caregiver may also give you more specific instructions. Your treatment has been planned according to current medical practices, but problems sometimes occur. Call your caregiver if you have any problems or questions after your procedure.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

Medicines

  • Take pain medicine as prescribed by your caregiver. Do not take any over-the-counter pain medicines unless your caregiver says it is okay. Some pain medicines can cause bleeding for several weeks after surgery.

  • Constipation is common after this procedure. You may need to take medicine to prevent this.

  • Some people have trouble digesting food after a Whipple procedure. Your caregiver may give you medicine to help with digestion.

Wound care

  • You may have drainage tubes still in place when you go home. These tubes need to stay in place until no more fluid is draining from your body. Your caregiver will explain what you need to do. Follow the instructions carefully. Note the daily amount of drainage and color of the fluid in the drain. Be sure to ask when you should return to have the tubes taken out.

  • You may need to go back to have your stitches (sutures) or staples taken out. Make sure you know when to do that.

  • Carefully check your surgical cut (incision) area every day. Make sure there are no signs of infection, such as:

  • Pain.

  • Swelling.

  • Redness.

  • Warmth.

  • An opening of the incision.

  • Bleeding or leaking fluid.

  • Keep the incision area dry. Do not use lotions or creams unless your caregiver tells you to.

Diet

  • You may not feel like eating for a while. This is normal and may last for a few weeks. When you are able to eat, try to eat:

  • Fruits and vegetables.

  • Foods with lean protein. Examples are boneless and skinless chicken breasts, lean beef, egg whites, and seafood like tuna and shrimp.

  • Low-fat dairy products.

  • Foods that are high in fiber. Examples are whole grains, beans, most fruits, and nuts.

  • Do not eat foods that contain a lot of fat. They can be hard to digest.

  • Drink enough fluids to keep your urine clear or pale yellow. This helps prevent constipation.

  • Try eating small portions more often than 3 times a day. Do not skip meals.

  • Weigh yourself once a week. Wear the same amount of clothes each time you weigh yourself.

Activities

  • Do not lift anything heavy for 3 to 6 weeks after your surgery. Do not lift anything heavier than 10 pounds (4.5 kg) until your caregiver says it is okay.

  • Try to walk 100 yards (90 meters) every day. Do not push yourself too hard. After a few weeks, start to slowly increase how far you walk.

  • You can take showers after your bandages are off. Do not take tub baths or swim until your caregiver says it is okay.

  • Do not drive if you are taking narcotic pain medicines.

  • Ask your caregiver whether it is okay for you do to certain activities, such as going back to work, driving a car, or having sex. It may be a few months before you can go back to all your normal activities.

Follow up

  • Keep all your appointments. This is how your caregiver can tell if you are getting better.

  • Call your caregiver with any questions.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • Your appetite does not get better.

  • You have nausea that will not go away.

  • You have constipation.

  • Your pain does not go away, even after taking pain medicine.

  • You become very thirsty, overly tired, dizzy, or you need to urinate often.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You cannot eat.

  • You are vomiting.

  • You have very bad pain that is getting worse.

  • You are very tired.

  • You have very bad constipation or diarrhea.

  • Your skin around the incision or drainage tubes becomes swollen, red, or leaks blood or other fluid.

  • Your incision or drainage area hurts.

  • You notice a bad smell or a change in the color of fluid in the drainage tube.

  • Your incision starts to open.

  • You have a fever.

  • You have chest pain or difficulty breathing.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.