What I should expect after a prostatectomy – Issues

“Having nerve-sparing surgery has helped me to feel that I’ve put the experience of surgery behind me and that I am able to move on.”
Dr Richard Commander, prostate cancer patient

Can I shower?

Yes, you can shower as normal. You will return home with a dressing over your wound to keep it dry. It should be sufficient to keep the dressing dry but if it does become wet, it is best to change the dressing. The dressings are normally removed around seven days after surgery at which point much of the healing will have taken place. If there is some bruising around the incision areas, do not be alarmed as it normally settles down within two weeks after surgery.

It is important to emphasise that every patient is different and your recovery will be influenced by individual factors, such as your overall health, the time it takes you to recover continence and your activity levels before surgery.

Bruising and leaking of wounds

Some bruising is normal after surgery and should settle down by about 14 days. If there is any leaking or oozing around the wounds, ask your GP practise nurse to check it for you.

Constipation and bloating

This is a common side-effect of the anaesthetic but can be distressing if there is pain and discomfort in the bowel area from surgery. Make sure you take Milpar to soften your stools and increase your fibre and water intake.

Swelling and bruising of the scrotum and penis

This may develop 4–6 days after surgery, but usually eases by two weeks. Wearing supportive underwear can help to ease swelling and discomfort.

Can I drive?

Advice on driving varies. From a medical perspective, you are likely to be able to drive four to six weeks after surgery, depending upon your individual recovery. However you should check with your own insurance company to ensure you meet their regulations about driving after prostate surgery.

When can I return to work?

This also varies. We would not recommend anyone going back to work earlier than four weeks after surgery. Some people, particularly the self-employed, may return early if they have the opportunity to start slowly and build up gradually. If your job involves heavy lifting and manual work, or a significant amount of physical activity, you should not return to work for at least two months. You should discuss your well being and recovery with your GP who will issue you with certification which your employer needs.

When can I start doing exercise or sport?

If you have been building up slowly, by walking around your home, garden and near your home, by four weeks post-surgery, you can begin to exercise. Be guided by how you feel and choose exercise that you are familiar with and regularly undertook before surgery.

When can I dig the garden/mow the lawn?

Heavy digging and mowing lawn do put a considerable strain on the body following abdominal surgery. Therefore, it is best to wait four to six weeks after surgery before undertaking these activities and starting slowly with smaller amounts then building up if you experience no discomfort.

When can I start having sex again?

You should not try to have sex for six to eight weeks after surgery. You will find that your erection is initially weak. This is a well recognised side-effect of prostatectomy, due to the fact that the erectile nerves lie next to the prostate and can be damaged while the prostate is removed. If you have had a nerve-sparing prostatectomy you are more likely to recover your erections, but it will take time (at three months, 20 per cent of patients have potency sufficient for intercourse, at six months the figure is 48 per cent and at one year, the figure is 73 per cent).