MUSC Advanced Migraine Surgery Program


Post-Operative Guide

Incisional Care

Unless instructed differently by your physician, dressings should be left in place for 48 hours.

  • You may shower and wash your hair 48 hours after your surgery. (No tub baths.)
  • Face away from the shower spray to prevent discomfort and pat dry.
  • If there is any tape on the incisions, it is OK for the tape to get wet. If the tape comes off on its own, you may leave it off.
  • Otherwise leave it on until you are seen in the office.
  • Getting the stitches wet in clean water will not harm them. Until permitted by your physician, you should avoid pool water, ocean water, bath water, etc. These are considered to be “dirty water.”
  • You may have a variable amount of swelling, bruising and/or discoloration at the operative site. This is expected and will resolve with time.
  • Ice surgical sites 4 to 5 times per day for 15 to 20 minutes for 3-5 days following surgery
  • Keep head elevated at least 30 degrees for 5 to 7 days following your surgery to minimize swelling


  • Most of the sutures are absorbable, but a few sutures may need to be removed approximately 1-2 weeks following the procedure.
  • You may have small amounts of drainage from the surgical site for a few days following your surgery.


You may experience some adverse effects from the anesthetic medications that were used during your procedure. These effects will range from grogginess, to fatigue, to nausea, and may last for several days after the surgery. You also may have a sore throat from the breathing tube. Your prescriptions will help with these side effects.

  • Take all of your medications as directed on the labels.
  •  If antibiotics are prescribed, take the entire prescription until finished.
  • Unless otherwise instructed by your surgeon, avoid all aspirin and non-steroidal products for 3-4 weeks after your surgery.
  • Allergic reactions to medications will manifest as itching or a rash. If this should occur, stop all medications immediately and contact the office.
  • Some patients have problems with constipation following surgery. If this occurs, try drinking prune juice or taking an over the counter laxative (ex: Colace).


You may or may not have a drain following your procedure. If you do, follow below:

  • Care for all of your drains according to the instructions given to you before discharge.
  • All output should be recorded on the enclosed sheet. This will help to determine when the drains are ready for removal.
  • The fluid needs to be recorded every 12 hours on the provided sheet.
  • Remove the drainage plug from the end of bulb, being careful not to touch the drainage spout. Drain into a measuring container. Fully squeeze bulb in your hand and reinsert drainage plug. Record drainage amount.
  • The site where the drain is attached may leak, and you may need to use a piece of gauze at the site to prevent the fluid from leaking onto your clothing.
  • Make sure that you have no tugging or pressure on the JP drain; this may pull it out of the incision. You can pin the bulb or tie the drain around your waist.
  • The drain should be level or below the incision in order to maintain suction.
  • If you think that your drain is “clogged” try “milking” or “stripping” it.


  • Use common sense. If it feels like too much or hurts, then don’t do it.
  • Avoid strenuous activity or heavy lifting for 2-3 weeks.
  • Sleep with head elevated 30 degrees or more for 5-7 days to minimize swelling.
  • We encourage moderate walking. More strenuous activity should be approved by your surgeon.
  • Do not drive until you have been off pain medication for 48 hours.

Possible Reason for Concern

  • Fever of 101.5 degrees or higher for 24 hours or more.
  • Significant increase in swelling, pain, drainage or redness of any surgical site.
  • Severe pain not responding to prescribed medication.
  • Visual changes
  • Other symptoms or problems you aren’t comfortable with after surgery.

In the event of an emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately!
Otherwise, please call our office at 843-792-4700 if you have any problems, questions or concerns. Someone is ALWAYS available 24/7.

You may talk to the following people if you call our office:

Angel Rivera-Barrios, M.D.
William M. Leppard, M.D.
Brian Kubiak, M.D.
Cindy McCord, M.D.
Jennifer Dizon Swartz, M.D.
Tahira Prendergast, M.D.

Physicians Assistants
Lauren Springs, PA-C
Jill Neumann, PA-C

Non-Clinical Administrative Staff

Kara Morris
Sharon O'Neill
Kaycee Collins

Request an Appointment

Patient Resources


© Medical University of South Carolina | 171 Ashley Avenue, Charleston, SC 29425