General and Gastrointestinal Surgery

Pain and Discomfort

It is normal to have pain after your operation. How much pain you experience depends more on the individual than on the operation. Pain is normally present at the incision site and at the site of the hernia. You have been given a prescription for a narcotic: hydrocodone (Vicodin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) with codeine. You can take one or two tablets every six hours. If you experience itching or a rash, call the office immediately and stop the medication.

If your pain is not controlled by the medication you have been given, call the office. It is helpful to take some type of pain medicine (narcotic or over- the- counter) before getting out of bed and before going to sleep the first few days after surgery. You should keep ice on the area of surgery for 24 to 48 hours. This minimizes postoperative swelling and reduces pain. There is no benefit to using ice after 48 hours.

If you don't like the drowsy feeling these medications cause or you no longer need this strong a medication, you can try aspirin, extra strength Tylenol, or ibuprofen. The dosages are: 

  • Ibuprofen (600 mg every 6 hours),
  • Tylenol (two extra strength every 6 hours), or 
  • aspirin (two every 6 hours)


You may notice alterations in your bowel habits following your surgery.  Diarrhea can occur from the surgery itself or from the antibiotics you received. This is best treated with Metamucil, Amphojel or Yogurt.  Constipation is very common and results from the narcotic pain medicine you are taking.  To avoid this, take Hailey's MO or Milk of Magnesia as directed on the bottle one time per day while you take the narcotics.  If you or your family were not informed of anything unusual after surgery, rest assured that everything is fine and went according to plan.