Post-Operative Care, Recovery and Follow-up
After the operation, your child will be taken to the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) for observation and later to a regular room. The immediate recovery time in the hospital is usually four to five days. We will pay close attention to your child’s post-operative pain, deep breathing exercises, assistance with movement and patient/parent education during this time.
For the first six hours after the operation, your child will need to remain still in order to minimize the risk of bar displacement. After six hours your child may begin to sit up in bed. There are special ways your child must move so the bar does not move, so a physical therapist will assist your child in walking on the first day after surgery.
Deep breathing exercises and walking around are very important to help your child breathe easier as he recovers. Once your child is able to get up and walk around with little assistance and no longer requires an IV for pain management he should be able to go home.
Your child should be fine for traveling home by car or plane. For long distances by car, plan on staying overnight at a hotel so your child can rest comfortably. Request the bulkhead seats on airplanes - they have more leg room - and have a wheelchair ready at any layovers.
Once discharged, your child is expected to slowly resume normal, but restricted, activity. Most children are able to return to school in two to three weeks, with exercise restrictions for six weeks (i.e., no physical education, no heavy lifting, etc.). Once they are fully recovered, they may return to regular activity.
We like our pectus patients to be active and athletic before and after surgery. After three months, patients are allowed to return to varsity level sports, but we discourage contact sports. Several of our patients are high-level competitors who have participated in the Junior Olympics and at the college level in their sport.
For more information on your child’s recovery and discharge instructions, please read our Pectus Excavatum Correction Discharge Instructions.
Your child will need to see his pediatrician or primary care physician within two to four weeks of returning home for a surgical post-op visit. We will contact your child’s doctor regarding your child’s outcome and what to look for during the post-op visit. If you reside locally, your child will return to our office for this visit.
We recommend follow-up visits to CHKD at six months, one year, and at your child’s three- or four-year anniversary for the bar’s removal.