Your spleen was removed after you were given general anesthesia (asleep and pain-free).
The surgeon made 3 to 4 small incisions (cuts) in your belly. The laparoscope and other medical instruments were inserted through these cuts. Carbon dioxide gas was pumped into your belly to expand the area to help your surgeon see better.
What to Expect at Home
Recovering from laparoscopic spleen removal usually takes about 1 to 3 weeks. You may have some of these symptoms as you recover:
Pain around the incisions. You may also feel pain in one or both shoulders. This pain comes from any gas still left in your belly after the surgery. It should go away over several days to a week.
A sore throat from the breathing tube. Sucking on ice chips or gargling may be soothing.
Nausea, and maybe throwing up. Your surgeon can give you a prescription for nausea medicine if you need it.
Bruising or redness around your wounds. This will go away on its own.
Start walking soon after surgery. Begin your everyday activities as soon as you feel up to it. Move around the house, shower, and use the stairs at home during the first week. If it hurts when you do something, stop doing that activity.
You may be able to drive after 7 to 10 days if you are not taking narcotic pain drugs. You may lift 15 pounds or less. Do not do any heavy lifting or straining for the first 1 to 2 weeks after surgery.
You may be able to go back to a desk job within a few weeks.
Your doctor will prescribe pain medicines for you to use at home. If you are taking pain pills 3 or 4 times a day, try taking them at the same times each day for 3 to 4 days. They may work better this way.
Try getting up and moving around if you are having some pain in your belly. This may ease your pain.
Press a pillow over your incision when you cough or sneeze to ease discomfort and protect your incision.
If sutures (stitches), staples, or glue were used to close your skin, you may remove the dressings (bandages) and take a shower the day after surgery.
If strips of tape strips were used to close your skin, cover the incisions with plastic wrap before showering for the first week. Do not try to wash the tape off. They will fall off in about a week.
Do not soak in a bathtub or hot tub or go swimming until your doctor tells you it is okay (usually 1 week).
Most people live a normal active life without a spleen, but there is always a risk of getting an infection. This is because the spleen is part of the body's immune system, helping fight infections.
You will be more likely to get infections after your spleen is removed:
For the first week after surgery, check your temperature every day.
Always tell your doctor if you have a fever, sore throat, headache, belly pain, or diarrhea, or an injury that breaks your skin.
Keeping up to date on your immunizations will be very important. Ask your doctor if you should have these vaccinations:
Flu shot (every year)
You may need to take antibiotics every day for some time. Do not stop taking antibiotics without checking with your doctor. Some people will need to take antibiotics every day for several years after surgery.
Things you can do to help prevent infections:
Eat healthy foods to keep your immune system strong.
Wash your hands often with soap and water. Ask family members to do the same.
Get treated for any bites, especially dog bites, right away.
Protect your skin when you are camping or hiking or doing other outdoor activities. Wear long sleeves and pants.
Tell your doctor if you plan to travel out of the country.
Tell all of your health care providers (dentist, doctors, nurses, or nurse practitioners) that you do not have a spleen.
You can even buy and wear a bracelet that will tell all health care workers that you do not have a spleen.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your doctor or nurse if:
Your temperature is above 101°F (38.3°C).
Your incisions are bleeding, are red or warm to the touch, or have a thick, yellow, green, or milky drainage.
You have pain that your pain medicines are not helping.
It is hard to breathe.
You have a cough that does not go away.
You cannot drink or eat.
You develop a skin rash and feel ill.
Cadili A, de Gara C. Complications of splenectomy. Am J Med. 2008;121:371-375.
Shelton J, Holzman MD. The spleen. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 57.
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.