An esophagectomy (say "ee-sof-uh-JEK-tuh-mee") is surgery to remove all or part of the esophagus. When you leave the hospital, the area around the cuts (incisions) may still be swollen or bruised. It may also feel numb. This is normal and may continue for a few weeks. You will probably need to take pain medicine for a few weeks.
You will have to be very careful about what you eat for 1 to 2 months after surgery and possibly for the rest of your life. You will probably have a feeding tube (J-tube) in your belly. This will come out when you are eating normally and getting enough nutrition. This could be about 4 to 6 weeks after surgery, but it could take longer. Your doctor will give you detailed information on what you can eat, how you should eat, and how to use the feeding tube.
You may also have digestive problems for a few months. These include weight loss, a lot of gas, and a problem called dumping syndrome. Dumping syndrome may cause you to feel light-headed or sick to your stomach, or to have cramps and diarrhea.
Most people go back to work or their normal routine after 6 to 12 weeks. You will need more time to get better if you need other treatment for cancer, such as chemotherapy. It will take 3 to 4 months to get back to your usual activities.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: August 9, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Kenneth Bark, MD - General Surgery, Colon and Rectal Surgery
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