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Partial Nephrectomy recovery

Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2013

Hello everyone.  I saw a post asking about recovery from Partial Nephrectomy and thought I'd post about mine.

Mentally, not doing so well (posted about that).


I'm about 6 weeks post op.  The first couple of weeks the pain was awful in the abdomen (where the incisions were).  Couldn't bend, sit up from lying down position, sleep on side, etc.

Ended up sleeping in the recliner for about 3 weeks.

After that, I still have very minor pain in abdomen, only hurts when I bend sometimes.  Sometimes have pain in kidney area when I bend over.  Other than that, all is well.

I would recomend that if you are having this surgery, be prepared for at least 3 weeks of taking it easy, and not working. 

I went back to work at 4 weeks (part time) and was exhausted.

You are still recovering, you had major surgery.  Pamper yourself, take it easy if you can.  Have your spouse do the laundry, cooking, driving the kids, etc.  for at least a couple of weeks.

Hope this helps some people.


icemantoo's picture
Posts: 3354
Joined: Jan 2010


The recovery you describe is very typical. Much like I went thru 10 and 1/2 years ago. The only thing I did not have to do was drive the kids. They (Jill and Howie) were 36 and 34 at the time.

Do what you can do, when you can do it. Full recovery can take up to a year. I went water skiing the following summer after surgery. You may have to wait until next year summer to do that.



NomadicMike's picture
Posts: 32
Joined: Feb 2013

Another aspect of recovery is getting back to work (for those of us that still do).  For my scenario, the Family Medical Leave Act started right when I went in for surgery.  If you're not familiar with FMLA, it basically entitles you to take unpaid, job protected leave for 12 work weeks in a 12-month period. 

I had my surgery exactly 3 weeks ago today.  I'm feeling pretty good and thought I could get back to work (I'm a computer programmer), but as part of FMLA, an employer can require you to have your doctor's permission to return to work.  My doctor said I can return in 8 weeks, but I plan on asking him to allow me to go back sooner - maybe next week or the week after.

I had a slow start on my recovery and the first week was really rough, but the second week was much better.  Now I'm finally able to sleep on my surgery side - which is a great relief because that's what I was used to.

alice124's picture
Posts: 899
Joined: Mar 2012

Great news Mike. If you're feeling up to it, I think it's great to get back to work for a variety of reasons. It will redirect your mind's focus to work issues rather than health issues; it will increase your social interaction; and it will give you the peace of mind knowing a big chunk of those 12 weeks are still out there should you need them down the line. Keeping my fingers crossed that the doc gives you the green light!



roaddr23's picture
Posts: 77
Joined: Jan 2013

I remember I posted to you before...I was in the same boat pain wise etc and being me I of course thought I could do everything right away..butttt.....that didn't work out so well,,,this past week or so I have been extremely weak and exhausted...I would never ask anyone else their age but I am 62...I believe the culprit may be the increase dose of my blood pressure meds several weeks ago..my pressure was up pretty high for me and I was on a very minimal dose of meds..the increase was not much per se but I am thinking that as my kidney is healing my natural pressure is also starting to go down towards it's norm...so 2 days ago  I started monitoring my BP lying down first and then standing...definite big difference so as a retired medic I am pretty sure that is the problem...Today I only took my normal dose but am a good girl and did make appt Dr for tomorrow morning...the other thing is that the problems with my back that I had the scan for when we found the tumors are still there and pain can make you tired plus symptoms from my back include leg and foot cramps esp. during the night...which I am having regularly and so my sleep is interrupted on a regular basis...I have pain meds for it from the pain management Dr. but I don't want to take Oxycodone on a regular basis and that would just make me more tired...My pain Dr jokes that she has to explain to her other patients why she can't give them more and she has to beg me just to get the prescription filled...I am in a catch 22 here....I have to get healthy from this surgery so that I can have surgery on my spine...hopefully, tomorrow I can at least know for sure about the BP meds...I mean I almost passed out a few times...in the past few days...stopped taking them until today because this AM the SYS (top) was fine but the Dia(bottom) was too high for my liking so I took 10 mg, my normal dose instead of new dose of 20mgs...feeling a little better now so I am hoping that is all it is...I think I remember you sayingyou lived near Hopkins...I will work toward getting better soon and maybe we can meet between Calvert Co and your area for Lunch...I'll buy..LOL

roaddr23's picture
Posts: 77
Joined: Jan 2013

I also need to well soon so I can play with my 4 beautiful grandsons...and I know my poor daughter Meghan can use the help...These 4 little guys are all under 4...Meg is my HERO, LOL!!!


Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2018

Today makes one week since I had a partical nephrectomy. First off, I wish I'd had more and better information about recovery before I went in. It would be great if they made up a small booklet you could carry home to read.  I advise buying the 24 hour antibiotic soap they sell in the pharmacy to use before surgery. It's great to use before the surgery and great to use afterwards when you must keep the drain incision clean. It's important to cook up some good broth soups, chicken, beef, and also some vegetable soups so you'll be able to have those on hand. Grocery shopping in totally necessary as you'll be living on what's in there if you can't get out. Make it healthy.  If you have any cooking skills at all, this is the time to cook healhy.  I found raw foods, fruits and vegetables, are still too hard to digest, so I am only sticking to cooked (steamed,etc) foods right now.  Be sure to add yoghurt. Your intestines are going to need that to get back in shape.

Just figure you're going to have foggy brain for a while. I had a friend stay with me for a day and a half, but felt I would rest better on my own as I like quiet and didn't feel like talking. I was able to do the simple things needed.

Ask what medications they'll be giving you and check out the side effects. They'll probably only give you liquids at first and that's great. You won't need anything more for a while.  More about that later.

I expected that my body would take some time to settle down and return to normal. It's a good ways from normal, but things are moving along. I've had constipation, as might be expected and personally I think staying on a liquid diet for a day or two is the best idea. Consume mostly broths and clear soups, teas, at the most maybe some applesauce. After you've had a bowel movement, maybe with the help of mineral oil, suppositories or whatever else you need, you can think about easing back in to some easy to digest foods like yoghurt, applesauce, white rice, toast. Bland foods.  It all goes well with that, you can graduate to more challenging digestion wise foods.  I haven't quite gotten to the regular foods stage a week out from surgery. I made the mistake of waking up one morning feeling pretty good and though some scrambled eggs, biscuits, soy sausage and coffee would be good.  Wow! Did I pay for it!  I had also taken some bulk drink. I felt like I'd die. It was horrible. I learned my lesson. Liquids or soft easy to digest foods until the digestion thing was going well and that means having a bowel movement or two.

As far as pain goes, it seems to come and go at times depending on what I've done. I walk every morning around three acres of land and that feels good.  I have been taking two acetamenothen every eight hours and that has worked fairly well most of the time.  The dang gas they gave caused major problems. I tried walking and that was some help...maybe. It really hurt in the shoulder at times. I slept with a heating pad one night and that seemed to help that night. I have finally gotten some GasX and I would recommend not waiting as long as I did to try this. I've never really found a good solution, but it has eased slowly...way too slowly.

I didn't like to wear the girdle thing they gave me. It might help with breathing more deeply, which does hurt at first, but it impeds being able to pass gas.

About the drain tube thing. Clean, sanitary, sterile are what is most important. I use the 24 hour super soap when I shower, especially around the incision.  I cut the gauze and try to neatly tape it in place. I does leak some blood around it every day, but not too much.  At one point I thought that the blood had coagulated in the tube, which it had some, and paniced. After milking the tube, it managed to start back. I had pinned the bulb too high up and it was not flowing down as it should. Milking the tube is kind of tricky. I found putting some antibiotic ointment on it helped my fingers slide better.  Also, if you leave the cap on the bulb it helps suck it out better than taking off the cap beforehand. Wash hands before doing anything with the drain. Watch what you touch while you're messing with it. Keep all supplies in a separate bag, clean.

You may have a low grade fever and that's to be expected. Don't panic. If it gets high though, be sure to let your doctor know asap! It might signal infection, but that won't happen to you. : )

I was given some Gabasomething tablets, but saw the side effects and didn't take it. I was also given some heavy duty stuff, but decided not to go that route either. The acetamenraphen seems to work well enough.

I hope your surgery and recovery goes well.



Posts: 28
Joined: Aug 2018

Thank you for this post.  I had a laporascopic partial on Tuesday the 4th.  I am feelng better every day.  Here are the issues I have experienced which are all typical according to my nurse practioner who I communicate with via portal.  I also have my post op visit on Monday. I am 58 years old.

1) Late afternoon fatigue.  About 5-6pm, I seem to hit a wall.  It's gets better gradually.

2) A few evening temps of 99.6 which dissipate over night and I feel great in the morning.  My instructions were to call if a fever >100.4 were to occur.

3)  Occasional cold hands and feet and some challenges being too hot or cold durining the night.

4)  Some tenderness in the kidney area of the partial kidney.

5)  Hemorroids.  I have always had them but they were well controlled and dormant.  I had a major flare up Saturday night.  I am on stool softeners so it has nothing to do with straining.

6) No other pain to report other than irritation around one of the lap holes which was the drain sight.  It is right on the beltline so I have been keeping it protected with bandaids and the irritation is from the adhesives from the band aid on the healthy skin not the lap hole.  That too is improving.

Everyone is different but it is great advice to be patient with this.  Most of us who had incidental finds feel way worse now than we did before the surgical event so it is a bit of a mind game.

Complicating the issue for me has been the need to put Mom in hospice Tuesday night.  It's a blessing but still stressful.  I am grateful to have the best siblings and we are all together on this.  

I wish you and all of us peace and a strong recovery.

lynntracy's picture
Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2021

I had an open partial nephrectomy 9/14/21 with about an 8" incision. The doc rooted around and found a second 1.4 cm tumor that had not shown up on ct or mri scans. the tumors were removed and I was released from the hospital on 9/17/21. I must be very lucky (?) as my pain has been zero and I feel actually better than before surgery. I would be on the golf course if I did not know it would be an incredibly stupid thing to do.

 I have no idea why my experience has been so positive? Thankful for sure. I am 63. 

Posts: 7
Joined: Jun 2021

Did you have symptoms prior to your operation and how did they find the tumors? Also is that all you needed or do you have to do any treatments.?  I am going in for an MRI on Tuesday.. I have been watching this cyst for 8 years and this past week the ultrasoud said the cyst has changd and suggested an MRI. I am so scared as this summer I had a hysterectomy from cancer,,  and now this. I am hoping its not cancer..  The cyst is 11mm.. and septated.. its mid pole.

donna_lee's picture
Posts: 1015
Joined: Feb 2009

Whether a person has a full or partial, regular or Lap, it's still surgery to remove all or a part of an organ.  Since I had had two babies, much later a total hysterectomy with complications, several day surgeries, and a knee repair from a ski accicent, I went into my first cancer surgery for Stage 4 with mets to the liver with the attitude that if I survived the surgery and woke up, that I'll be ahead of the game.  I had no expectation that the recovery would be quick and easy

Add to that all the biology, anatomy, physiology, etc. classes for a health ed minor, I knew there would be lots of layers cut through or pried apart.

Anesthesia and surgery of any type can set the body back and it takes time to heal.  Pain, constipation, shoulder aches, difficulty walking/sitting/standing (or even turning over in bed) can be hard. I slelpt in a recliner, created a step so I could even sit on the side of the bed, had to wake my husband to help me get to the bathroom in the middle of the night, developed Pancreatitis during the 3rd week, had to fly  (otherwise drive 5 hrs one way) to the Hospital to have my 63 staples out, and was glad that a team could do the surgery.

I'm not "bit_____", because I had been told in the beginning that I perhaps had 5-7 months to live if no surgery could be done.

I think we all go into a traumatic even like a kidney cancer surgery with the personal expectation that we'll come through and heal up faster than anyone else.  We could all dream, but it doesn't happen that way.  Everyone's body prior to surgery is "built the same." but each case is different for the Dr., and each person recovers differently.  And the Dr's or nurses statements that it takes about 6 weeks is soooooo true. When I was turned loose at 6 weeks, I could drive easily, hit the pool for exercise, and was back to work part time.

The only problems were the pollowing two years, about the same time of year, I was back in a hospital for a 4 your surgery and 3 day inpatient recovery for mets that had been visible on the regular CT's.  Deja vu..."Been there, done that."

Here I am, 15 years later, still being tested with CT's, chest x-rays, ultrasounds, lab work and once in a while, a biopsy to rule out a mets to someplace else. (just had lab work this morning for up-coming visit to Onc., and finished off with my annual Flu shot).

Have HOPE, follow the guidance of the Dr. PA or nurse, keep the rest of yoor body healthy, exercise, drink plenty of water and live your life.  And then keep on living.  We need more survivors.

Air hugs and Hi 5's to all,



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