Although each patient is different, most patients find recovery from vasectomy reversal surgery to be similar to their recovery from their vasectomy (assuming, of course, you had no complications from your vasectomy). The principle risk in the first 24-48 hours is bleeding inside the scrotum. While this is rare, and does not usually cause problems with the reversal, it can result in a long and very uncomfortable recovery. Dr. Finnerty takes extreme care with bleeding control at surgery, but it is very important that you plan on remaining at bed rest for the first 48 hours after surgery, getting up only for bathroom visits. For this reason, we require that our out-of-town patients remain in the area for at least 24 hours (48 hours is preferable) before traveling.
The surgical repair is quite sturdy, and will not be disrupted or damaged by normal activity. However, swelling and discomfort are increased considerably by excess activity in the first two weeks after surgery. Therefore, after your first two days at bed rest, you should avoid heavy lifting or straining, prolonged standing, or exercise for 10-14 days.
Sexual activity should be avoided for at least 10 days after surgery to minimize discomfort and avoid the risk of causing leakage at the delicate reconnection site.
When you come out of surgery, you will have a bulky dressing on the scrotal area, held in place by a scrotal support (jock strap). This will provide compression to the surgical area, and is generally removed after 24-48 hours. There may be a slight amount of bleeding from the incisions after this dressing is removed, for which you may use a light gauze dressing for 1-2 days until stopped. You may shower after this bleeding has stopped, generally in 48-72 hours. Baths should be avoided for one week.
Ice packs, gel packs, or frozen peas should be applied to the scrotal area after the bulky dressing is removed, and used intermittently (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off) for the next 3-5 days. Short warm tub baths (10-15 minutes) may help healing after 7 days.
The sutures (stitches) used for closing the incisions are dissolvable, and are under the skin; only a small knot of the suture is visible at one end. These generally dissolve in several weeks, and do not need to be removed. A small amount of discharge or drainage is may occur after about a week or so, due to reaction to the suture material. This is normal and does not indicate infection, and may be cleaned with saline or peroxide. A light antibiotic ointment may be used if the incisions are “sticky” to clothing, but generally are not necessary. Occasionally, the skin edges of the incisions will separate slightly after the sutures dissolve. This causes no problems, and will heal promptly if kept clean.
For most patients, pain after surgery is mild, and easily controlled with codeine, hydrocodone (Vicodin™), or over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen (which may be restarted 2-3 days after surgery).