What are the After Effects of Bypass Surgery?

Recovering from bypass surgery could take anywhere from two to three months. Some of the possible effects after surgery include mood swings, swelling, and loss of appetite.

More than 250,000 people in the United States have bypass surgery. Also referred to as open heart bypass surgery, bypass surgery is performed to treat blocked arteries. It could improve heart function, stop heart attacks, and decrease symptoms such as shortness of breath and chest pains.  

Though bypass surgery is a serious operation, most patients make a full recovery. Additionally, 90% of them don’t experience any complications. These results are thanks to heart surgeons who go through years of specialized training to ensure their patients get through the surgery safely and back to a normal life. 

What to Expect After Bypass Surgery

It could help to understand what to expect after your surgery. There are several factors to consider during recovery, such as possible complications and necessary lifestyle changes.  

Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

Many patients can have brief visits from family members in the ICU a couple of hours after the surgery. Since you will have a breathing tube in place, you won’t be able to talk. You can communicate with your hands, head, or by notes.

You will have several tubes attached as well; many will be detached the day after surgery: 

  • IV
  • Arterial line
  • Chest tubes 
  • Stomach tube

Common Complications During Recovery

When you are ready to go home, you will be handed instructions and a medication list to help you recover from your surgery. You will probably have a few new prescriptions, and you will probably be told to stop taking some of your old medications. This could be a little overwhelming at first, but your doctor will sit down with you and review the instructions in detail. If you have any questions, your physician will explain everything in detail before you leave.


Surgical incision infections may occur after bypass surgery. A good way to prevent this is to keep your incisions dry and clean. You can take a shower, but you most likely can’t take a bath for at least 30 days. You also need to change the dressings on your incisions as directed on your discharge papers. An infection is typically swelling or redness at the incision. 


Having bypass surgery is frightening. The objective is to get you back on your feet, in the days and weeks after surgery. However, you might feel like you have no control over your health and your life. It’s no surprise that depression after bypass surgery is quite common. Your primary doctor or a CHD support group can assist you in getting well, so don’t hesitate to contact someone if you need help.

The Months Ahead

Bypass surgery fixes blocked arteries, but it doesn’t treat the underlying heart disease issue. Long-term recovery entails fighting the risk factors that are causing your coronary artery disease. Risk factors, like family history, can’t be altered. However, others like exercise and diet can be.   Contact our support group when you’re ready to make positive lifestyle changes.

Comments are closed.

« Previous EntryNext Entry »