Appendectomy Surgery: Risks, Recovery, and Expectations

DayToDay Team
January 24, 2022

Appendectomy is a surgical procedure that a general surgeon performs. Appendectomy is an effective procedure to treat and manage appendicitis or inflammation of the appendix. If the appendix is not removed on time, it can burst and lead to a medical emergency.

The appendix is a small, pouch-like organ attached to the large intestine. It is on the right lower side of the abdomen. For a long time, doctors assumed that the appendix was useless in the body. But research shows that the appendix harbors the gut enzymes and helps in the digestive system’s recovery after an infection.

The symptoms of appendicitis include abdominal pain, especially from the center of the abdomen, radiating towards the lower right abdomen or McBurney’s point. The patient also experiences loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting in the early stages of the infection. One may also have a low-grade fever.

Let’s understand more about the techniques, risks, expectations, and recovery regarding appendectomy surgery.

How is an appendectomy performed?

A surgeon can perform an appendectomy through two techniques - open appendectomy or laparoscopic appendectomy.

An open appendectomy involves the surgeon making an incision two to four inches long in the lower right part of the abdomen. The surgeon then removes the appendix through the incision and stitches it incision back up. 

A laparoscopic appendectomy involves the use of a laparoscope. The surgeon makes two to three small incisions through which the scope passes. The laparoscope has a camera that displays the organs on a television screen and guides the doctor through the surgical site. This technique is less invasive, with a shorter recovery time.

What are the risks associated with an appendectomy procedure?

Complications possible due to appendectomy procedure include -

  • Internal bleeding
  • Infection at the surgical site
  • Pus and drainage from the incision site
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Cramps and abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of bowel movement for two to three days
  • Injury to nearby organs during surgery
  • Infection and inflammation if the appendix bursts during surgery

What can one expect before appendectomy surgery?

The doctor discusses the ailment and possible treatment plan, including surgery. It is the best time to discuss the procedure, risks, and recovery. The surgeon also asks the patient to sign a consent form for the surgery. It is best if the patient and their family read the consent form in detail and ask questions.

The doctor notes down past medical ailments and recommends a few diagnostic tests to confirm that the patient is fit for surgery. These tests include blood tests, urines tests, and ultrasound. At this time, the patient should let the doctor know if they are taking any medicines, OTC drugs, or supplements.

The doctor may ask the patient to get admitted to the hospital a day before the surgery. The patient has to bathe with a medicated soap before the surgery. The doctor also asks the patient to fast for eight to ten hours before the surgery.

It is best to inform the doctor if the patient -

  • Is pregnant 
  • Is allergic to certain types of medicines, anesthesia, latex
  • Has a history of a heart condition and is on blood thinners or anti-clotting medicines

What does appendectomy surgery recovery look like?

After the surgery, the patient shifts to a recovery room. Here, the nurses and doctor keep the patient under observation and monitor vital signs. Once the patient is conscious and, the vitals are stable, the patient moves to a regular room in the hospital.

The recovery time can depend on the technique of surgery and the appendectomy incision. Sometimes laparoscopic appendectomies are done as a daycare procedure. The patient may directly go home from the recovery room in such cases.

In the case of an open appendectomy, wound healing will take a longer time. The patient may have to stay in the hospital for over two to three days after surgery. If the appendix bursts before the surgery, the hospital stay may extend up to a week.

The doctor prescribes pain medicines to manage the pain, which is given through an IV initially. Once the patient is home, they can take their medications orally.

The doctor may ask the patient to get up and walk a few hours after laparoscopic appendectomy. The patient may get out of bed after a day in case of an open appendectomy. Diet may be limited to liquids and semi-solids initially. Once the patient is home, they can connect with a dietician for a balanced diet chart that promotes recovery.

The doctor may ask the patient to visit the hospital for a follow-up consultation in a few weeks. Follow-ups help the doctor monitor and chart the patient’s progress and recovery.

Once at home, the patient should keep the incision site clean. Instructions on keeping the stitches dry and bathing are shared with the patient before discharge from the hospital.

The doctor may also recommend medicines to take at home. If the patient wants to start taking medications for some other ailment, they should ask their doctor first.

The doctor will also let the patient know when they can get back to work, drive, exercise, and perform other activities.

One should call their doctor or healthcare provider if they experience -

  • High fever or chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain, pus, and foul smell from the incision site
  • No bowel movement or uncontrollable diarrhea for over two days
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of appetite

To know about DayToDay Health’s post-surgical care plans, connect with us at

Alexis den Boggende
Alexis den Boggende
Senior Content Writer
Olivia Casale
Olivia Casale
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Danny Biel
Danny Biel
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Driven Writer with a demonstrated history of working in the hospital & health care industry. Strong past in Applied Improvisation and Improvisation for entertainment. Skilled in Talent Management, Copywriting, Teaching, Curriculum Development, Editing, and Data Management. Strong media and communication professional with a Master of Education.
Prem Sharma
Prem Sharma
Christine Hsieh
Christine Hsieh
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My vision is to help transformative, indispensable inventions come into markets to make a difference in people's lives. I see this occurring through a continuously evolving practice of working at the intersection of empathetic design, cutting-edge technology, and business.
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