After surgery it is important to take an active role in your recovery. Your health care provider may recommend that you do deep breathing exercises.
How to Breathe Deeply
Many people feel weak and sore after surgery and taking big breaths can be uncomfortable. Your provider may recommend that you use a device called an incentive spirometer. If you do not have this device, you can still practice deep breathing on your own.
The following measures may be taken:
- Sit upright. It may help to sit at the edge of the bed with your feet hanging over the side. If you cannot sit like this, raise the head of your bed as high as you can.
- If your surgical cut (incision) is on your chest or belly, you may need to hold a pillow tightly over your incision. This helps with some of the discomfort.
- Take a few normal breaths, then take a slow, deep breath in.
- Hold your breath for about 2 to 5 seconds.
- Gently and slowly breathe out through your mouth. Make an "O" shape with your lips as you blow out, like blowing out birthday candles.
- Repeat 10 to 15 times, or as many times as your doctor or nurse told you.
- Do these deep-breathing exercises as directed by your doctor or nurse.
Lung complications - deep breathing exercises; Pneumonia - deep breathing exercises
do Nascimento Junior P, Modolo NS, Andrade S, Guimaraes MM, Braz LG, El Dib R. Incentive spirometry for prevention of postoperative pulmonary complications in upper abdominal surgery. Cochrane Database Sys Rev. 2014;(2):CD006058. PMID: 24510642 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24510642.
Kulaylat MN, Dayton MT. Surgical complications. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery: The Biological Basis of Modern Surgical Practice. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 12.
Review Date 9/29/2019
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.