Medications after surgery


Most patients take three medications after surgery.  Each has a specific purpose.  Aspirin or other blood thinner to help prevent blood clots, ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory for inflammation and pain, and a narcotic for pain alone.  If you have questions, please ask me or my office.  This is NOT given as specific medical advice to any patient, but rather is a guideline.  EVERY patient is different and these may NOT apply to you.  While i would prefer that you not have to take any medications, I have found the following three very helpful and important in your recovery after surgery.   

or other
blood thinner

I typically I have some of my patients take a single 325mg aspirin daily after surgery for 10-14 days.  This helps to prevent blood clots. This changes depending on the type of surgery performed.  For joint replacement surgery, a stronger blood thinner is often preferred such as xarelto.  Remember to talk to your doctor about this kind of medicine as taking the wrong medication can be extremely dangerous.   When to start it and stop is is also critical and should be tailored to your specific needs.  This is to be taken as a very general guideline only and not medical advice.  This usually begins the day after surgery.  If you already take aspirin or any other blood thinner before surgery, talk to your doctor about the right plan to stop it.   Because blood clots are such an important thing to prevent, be sure to ask me or my office for specific individualized instructions on this.

Ibuprofen or naproxen

Taking an anti-inflammatory can help to reduce pain and swelling at the site of surgery.  I usually recommend 600mg to 800mg three times a day (every 8 hours).  In come cases other anti-inflammatories will be recommended such as celecoxib.   For patient taking a strong blood thinner, this medication may NOT be allowed at all.  Planning to take daily for the first 4-5 days can make a big difference for you, but only if safe.  As mentioned above, talk to your doctor if this is right for you.

A narcotic
only if needed

This is always individualized for what is best for you, your medical condition, your surgical procedure, and your tolerance.  This medication does not help your body recover in any way – it primarily blocks pain.  Take this medication when the anti-inflammatory is not enough.  Try not to get behind on it.  Take it only as needed.  The guidelines on the bottle are just that, not requirements to keep taking it – I prefer that you decrease the dose and frequency as soon as possible.  As your pain lessens over the first days to a week, decrease the dose and stop it.  As I’ve said above several times, these are dangerous medications and should only be used according to your physician’s recommendations and guidelines.   For some procedures, these medications are not needed at all, and are best not used.