Details related to the time you will spend in hospital after surgery and your post-operative plan will depend on your surgical site. Ask your surgeon for details related to your recovery.
You will likely receive painkillers and antibiotics to prevent infection as well as muscle relaxants, anti-spasm and -nausea medications and stool softeners. Your surgeon will provide you with a list of medications to avoid around the time of your surgery.
The forearm or thigh that was used as a donor site for a skin graft will be wrapped under air- and water-tight dressings for 5 days. The part of your thigh that was used for a skin graft will be dressed with a sheet of gauze. The gauze will be gradually trimmed away as it lifts up from its edges over the following 1 to 2 weeks. Graft sites will be covered with dressings.
During the healing process, you should expect:
- Some bleeding during the first 48 hours
- Swelling of the penis, scrotum, pubic region and other surgical sites for the first month (this can take 4 months to completely disappear)
- Bruising that can extend from your navel to your thighs (this takes 3 to 4 weeks to settle down)
- Itching and occasional small, shooting electrical sensations as your nerve endings heal
- Difficulty urinating while standing for the first few weeks
- Numbness in the penis and scrotum (this will resolve in the first 18 months)
- Stiffness in the elbow, wrist and hand of the arm where the skin graft was taken
- Pink or red scars on your forearm, thigh and penis, which will pale over time (this takes 12 to 18 months to heal; the scar on your forearm will be permanent)
The number of check-ups needed varies from person to person and between surgeons. If possible, see your primary care provider about a week after you return home from surgery and then every 2 to 4 weeks for the first few months.
When you visit your surgeon or primary care provider, they should check your surgical sites to make sure there are no infections or wound healing problems. They will ask questions about pain, bleeding, urination, bowel movements, fever and how you are feeling physically and emotionally.
Recovery time varies from person to person, so always follow the advice of your surgeon. You'll be able to return to many of your normal activities within 6 to 8 weeks but may vary from person to person and may be longer if complications arise. Some activities, such as driving, heavy lifting, exercise, sex, and soaking in hot tubs, may be restricted in the post-operative period. Your surgeon will give you advice about when it is okay to resume these activities. Complete recovery can take up to one year. Recovery time also may vary after each stage of surgery.