After Your Hospital Stay for Craniotomy

You may be able to go home as soon as you can walk, eat, and drink normally. Back home, family and friends may offer help and support. Accept help when you need it. But it’s important to strike a balance. Keep in mind that you’re striving to become independent again.

Keep follow-up visits

You may have an office visit 7 to 10 days after the craniotomy. At this time, any remaining stitches or staples may be removed. You can expect to meet with your surgeon about every 4 weeks for the first few months. You may also have follow-up imaging tests to ensure your condition is stable.

Coping after surgery

Accepting what has happened can be hard for you and your loved ones. Your recovery will take time. You may feel more tired than normal for a few months or even a year. Coming to terms with your emotions can help ease the process:

  • It’s harder to cope some days than others. So be patient with yourself. If you feel sad or depressed, talk with a member of your health care team. Depression is common and can be treated.

  • It’s normal to have fears or to feel angry. Counseling or a support group may help you cope with your feelings and the demands of any ongoing treatment. Sharing information with your family can also help.

Start by walking

Walking is a great way to rebuild your strength. If directed by your surgeon, start out with short, frequent walks. Even if it’s just to get a glass of water or to change the TV channel, get up and walk each day. Gradually try walking greater distances, such as to the corner mailbox.

Returning to daily life

The following hints might help in your recovery:

  • Increase your level of activity little by little.

  • Accept help from those who offer to do household tasks like cooking and yard work.

  • Arrange for rides if you’re told not to drive for a while. A social worker or discharge planner can help with this.

  • Ask your employer about returning to work for fewer hours or working at home.

When to call your doctor

Call your surgeon at once if you have any of the following:

  • Increased drowsiness

  • Ongoing nausea or vomiting

  • Extreme headaches

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or greater

  • Increased muscle weakness

  • Involuntary movements, seizures, or personality changes

  • Shortness of breath

  • Pain or swelling in a leg

  • Redness or drainage from the incision or an IV site

  • Burning during urination

  • Pain and stiffness in the neck

  • Fainting or loss of consciousness

  • A fall

  • Altered mental status

  • Before stopping any medication