What is Thoracic Surgery Recovery Like?

What is Thoracic Surgery Recovery Like?

What is thoracic surgery? Any surgery performed with an incision that enters through the chest is considered thoracic surgery, including open-heart surgery. Recovering from thoracic surgery is a long process. The recovery process will depend upon the exact type of surgery you have, the placement and size of the incision, the condition of the individual patient, and the care taken post-surgery. After all of these are considered, the doctors and healthcare professionals can provide the optimal recovery plan for your situation. 

To understand what it will look like, it is also essential to comprehend thoracic surgery itself. By learning more about thoracic surgery, you can see why the recovery process is such a long process. At the Minimally Invasive and Bloodless Heart Surgery Program, we provide you with the information that makes processes like this less intimidating from the start. There is less worry and more time to focus on reaching your important health goals.

What is Thoracic Surgery?

What is Thoracic Surgery, Thoracic Surgery

What is Thoracic Surgery

According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, thoracic surgery often referred to as open-heart surgery, may address a problem with the heart, esophagus, lungs, trachea, aorta, or diaphragm. Open heart surgery poses a significant challenge when it comes to healing. It’s going to take time to get back to feeling your best. It’s common to feel very tired and run down for six to eight weeks following the surgery. Your chest may feel swollen and sore for up to six weeks following the surgery.

Most patients with traditional open-heart surgery go home with staples or stitches holding the incision closed while it heals. Most also require drainage tubes to remove excess fluid and air that can build up during surgery. The healthcare professionals will most likely remove those tubes before leaving the hospital. If the tubes remain in place, you’ll be given special instructions for post-surgery care. 

Thoracic surgery is intimidating from the start, so having specific instructions and plans for after can give you peace of mind instead of more worry. Each patient can expect individualized care and instructions to ensure their particular case is going into recovery in the best way. 

Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery

The surgery itself does not have to be an invasive trauma. Minimally invasive, bloodless heart surgery relies upon a much smaller incision and provides a much shorter healing time than traditional open-heart surgery. This still includes letting your body process what it has gone through and heal from the procedure. While recovery following heart surgery is a long and arduous process, choosing the surgical options that provide the most benefit with the least downtime and trauma to the body is essential.

The less trauma there is to the body, the less time it takes to return to the normal process of events. When you speak with your doctor, be sure you explore all of the options to understand the treatment plan and the post-operative care plan you’ll need to follow. As this is very patient-specific, they will be able to provide you with personal insight, depending on your situation. 


What is thoracic surgery is an important question to understand. There is a strong “why” behind the length of time recovery takes with thoracic surgery. Knowing that from the beginning can make it much easier to be ready even before the surgery takes place. Are you worried about the recovery time required for your upcoming thoracic surgery? The Minimally Invasive and Bloodless Heart Surgery Program is here to help you through it. Check out our website or give us a call at (712) 294-7055 for more information.

A picture of Giovanni B. Ciuffo, MD wearing his Mercy One doctor attire.

About the Author

Giovanni B. Ciuffo, MD Director is an expert in Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery and Bloodless Heart Surgery is the outcome of his commitment to the development and improvement of both of these techniques. He runs a Cardiothoracic Surgery practice and manages Minimally Invasive and Bloodless Heart Surgery Program where he cares for patients from all over the country and locally. Click here to learn more about Dr. Ciuffo.

Board Certified:
American Board of Surgery
American Board of Thoracic Surgery