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Recovery Tracker

Get Well Soon

Helping you to make a speedy recovery after surgery to have part or all of a lung removed


Days/Weeks Post Op How you might feel Things you can do safely Fit to work?

1-2 days

You are likely to be in a high dependency area with nursing staff closely monitoring your oxygen levels and blood pressure. You will have a chest drain after the operation which - the length of time which the drain has to stay in varies from person to person

You’ll feel groggy from the anaesthetic and very tired. You’ll also experience pain in your chest area from the operation, and discomfort in your leg.

By the second day, most patients are able to sit up in bed, and will be able to eat and drink on their own.


2-6 days

Nurses will give you pain relief for your chest and surrounding muscles. Usually the chest drain comes out during this period, occasionally you may be discharged with a chest drain. If this is considered your consultant / nurse will discuss with you. It is extremely important to do breathing exercises / coughing and walking around the ward with help. It is these simple things which will speed your recovery and prevent complications after the operation

  • Exercises to improve your breathing.
  • The nurses and physiotherapist will begin to get you moving around the ward.


1 week

By now, most people will be at home, and any pain can be controlled with the medication you’ve been prescribed. It’s normal to feel anxious or depressed, and a bit short of breath. If you are concerned discuss with your visiting nurse or GP.

  • Walk around your home. You might feel stiff at first, but getting moving again will help you to recover more quickly.
  • Set aside specific rest times in bed and stick to them.


2-4 weeks

You may feel slightly short of breath as your activity levels increase, but this will improve. Remember that you will be more short of breath than you were before the operation, but it is important to gently build up your activity levels to strengthen your lung function.

  • Steady exercise, particularly walking, is ideal. Rest after a meal and before and after exercise, and keep a good balance between the two. 
  • Do your breathing exercises.


4-6 weeks

You’ll have more energy, but may feel tired towards the end of the day. You may have some numbness around the scar and in front of the chest and may also occasionally get sharp pain. If it concerns you, discuss with your nurse / consultant at the follow up appointment.

  • Use the after you get home page to build up your levels of activity slowly and steadily.

Not just yet.

8-12 weeks

Between 6-8 weeks after your operation, you will have your follow-up appointment with your surgeon, who will be able to assess your recovery and discuss with you whether you need any further treatment, or if you are fit to resume normal activities.

Maybe after 3 months (see above)

16 weeks


If you haven’t had any complications to do with your surgery, and you’re still not back to living life as you normally would, it’s possible that you’re feeling anxious or depressed. Talk first to your keyworker, your GP, and, if you are still in work, to your employer. Between you it’s possible that you can work out an solution that can help you make a full recovery.

For many people, having a lung resection marks an important turning point in life. Having a holiday to look forward to is a good way of improving your recovery. There are no restrictions to holidaying in the UK, but it is advisable to not plan any long journeys until you are feeling comfortable enough to be able to sit for long periods.

If you have had part of your lung removed it is recommended that you do not fly for 12 weeks following your operation.

Travel insurance
Getting travel insurance following surgery can sometimes be difficult, so it’s best to shop around for a good deal. Travelling within the European Union is probably easier than elsewhere in the world, mainly because you can access any emergency treatment that you need - provided that you have a European Health Insurance Card (E111). However, it’s important to remember that this does not cover you for the cost of having to be flown home under medical supervision after emergency treatment, which is an expense that you will have to cover yourself. Also the emergency cover provided is only to a level given to the people resident in that country.



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