Brain surgery - discharge

Alternate Names

Craniotomy - discharge; Surgery - brain - discharge; Neurosurgery - discharge; Craniectomy - discharge; Stereotactic craniotomy - discharge; Stereotactic brain biopsy - discharge; Endoscopic craniotomy - discharge

When You Were in the Hospital

Your doctor made an incision in your scalp and then drilled a small hole or removed a piece of your skull bone. Surgery was done to:

You have spent some time in the intensive care unit and some more time in a regular hospital room. You may be taking new medicines.

What to Expect at Home

You will probably notice itchiness, pain, burning, and numbness along your surgical incision. You may hear a clicking sound where the bone is slowly re-attaching. Complete healing of the bone may take 6 to 12 months.

You may have headaches. You may notice this more with deep breathing, coughing, or being active. You may have less energy when you get home. This may last for several months.

You will probably have a small amount of fluid underneath the skin near your incision. The swelling may be worse in the morning when you wake up.

You may go home taking anti-seizure drugs.

If you had a brain aneurysm, you may also have other symptoms or problems.


Take only the pain relievers your doctor or nurse recommends. Aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin), and some other drugs you may buy at the store may cause bleeding.

You can eat your normal diet, unless your doctor or nurse gives you a special diet.

Slowly increase your activity. Start out with walking. It may take up to 3 weeks to get all of your energy back.

Ask your doctor when you may begin driving. You may have sexual activity, but take it easy when you first get home.

Get enough rest. Sleep more at night, and take naps during the day. Also, take short rest periods during the day.

Wound Care

Keep the incision clean and dry.

You may wear a loose hat or turban on your head if you like. Do not use a wig for 3 to 4 weeks.

Do not put any creams or lotions on or around your incision. Do not use hair products with harsh chemicals (coloring, bleach, perms, or straighteners) for 3 to 4 weeks.

You may place ice wrapped in a towel where you had your surgery to help reduce swelling or pain. Never sleep on an ice pack.

Sleep with your head raised on several pillows. This will also help reduce swelling.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor if you have:


Gasco J, Mohanty A, Hanbali F, Patterson JT. Neurosurgey. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 68.

Review Date: 9/6/2012
Reviewed By: Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and Department of Anatomy at UCSF, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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