How Does Recovery Following Prostate Cancer Surgery (Robotic Prostatectomy) Work? What Should I Expect?
Robotic prostatectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure which uses finely controlled robotic instruments to remove the prostate gland and some of the surrounding tissue. Surgery is a common option in trying to cure prostate cancer if it is not thought to have spread outside the prostate gland. After surgery you should expect to return to normal within a reasonable amount of time. It is expected for most patients to have excellent cancer control, normal urinary control, and the ability to have sex. Robotic prostatectomy generally has fewer complications and allows for a quicker return to normal activities when compared to open surgery or radiation therapy.
Typically, patients will stay in the hospital overnight after surgery and then need to recuperate at home for one to two weeks before returning to work. Once you arrive home following the procedure, try walking every hour for at least 10 minutes. Within a week, you should increase the amount you are walking. It’s also recommended to abstain from sexual activity for at least two weeks after a prostatectomy. By the fourth week you should be able to walk at least 40 minutes each day to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
Following the procedure your doctor may give you a prescription for pain medication that you can take at home once you are released from the hospital. However most patients should be able to manage pain at home with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil).
A urinary catheter is a tube that is inserted through your urethra into your bladder to drain urine. The catheter will be connected to a bag that is taped to your leg and must stay in place while your anastamosis heals. Do not under any circumstance attempt to remove this on your own. If it should accidentally fall out, you must immediately notify your urologist to have it replaced.
You will also be provided with two urine collection bags of different sizes, a smaller bag to be worn under your pants during the day( leg bag), and a larger bag to be used at night. The smaller bag usually lasts about 3-4 hours before needing to be emptied. Of course this will vary depending on how much liquid you consume. The larger bag should last you all night, so you do not need to wake up to empty it. Remove, empty, and exchange these two bags as needed.
The catheter will stay in place for 5-7 days while you heal, and can generally be removed by your urologist at the end of this time. Sometimes it may have to stay in place longer if you are not sufficiently healed,
The combination of anesthesia, lessened activity, and narcotic pain medicine often creates problems with bowel function. You may be prescribed stool softeners or laxatives. Drinking fluids, eating frequent, small, and easily digestible meals will help to relieve constipation.
Knowing what to expect is a large part of optimizing your sexual recovery from prostate surgery. Electing to have robotic prostate surgery improves your chances of enjoying sex after prostate surgery is very high. However, it is absolutely critical to choose a robotic surgeon with a high case volume and extensive prostate surgery experience. The robot does not perform the surgery automatically and technology does not guarantee of success alone.