There are around seven million people in the UK awaiting hospital treatment at the moment, as NHS underfunding and understaffing leads to near-existential pressures on already-stretched staff. Though the NHS remains a national treasure, its current state is poor – and potentially harmful, where negligent treatment could well be on the rise. Surgical treatments do not always go to plan, and when they don’t certain complications can occur. What are they, and how could you recover from them?

Post-Operative Discomfort

First, it is important to make a key distinction between surgical complications and post-operative discomfort. Complications are unintended or unexpected outcomes of a procedure, where as post-operative discomfort describes expected outcomes. Surgery is, after all, a controlled wounding of the body in order to rectify an issue or condition. Along with surgery, certain discomforts can be expected.

For example, surgery typically involves general anaesthesia, or ‘putting you under’. While under anaesthetic, your breathing is served and controlled by a ventilator, which requires a tube to be inserted into your throat. Ventilators can have a drying effect on the throat, and the presence of the tube can cause internal damage and discomfort. As such, sore throats and grogginess are common accompaniments to waking up after surgery.

You are also likely to experience discomfort and pain at the site of your surgery, including redness, swelling and even potentially discharge. These are all normal to experience, and easy to manage with advice from your doctor.

Common Surgical Complications

However, there are also complications that can occur, either as a result of unexpected conditions within your body or as a result of negligence on the part of the surgical team responsible for your operation. Depending on the circumstances of your complication, and its impacts on your life and finances after the surgery, the complication you experience could well be grounds enough for a medical negligence claim – which would see you receive compensation proportionate to the difficulties and discomfort you faced.

Many complications are relatively easy to overcome; excess bleeding during a surgery might result in additional blood transfusions mid-surgery, but minimal post-surgery discomfort. You might also contract pneumonia as a result of your ventilator; this can be mild, but can also be severe.

A surgeon’s failure to properly wash their hands could lead to a surgical infection and sepsis, requiring further treatment and potential further surgery to correct. Lastly, you could be unfortunate enough to suffer a surgical injury, in the form of an unintended and unplanned incision. These carry their own risks and consequences, dependent on the location of the injury.


Recovering from surgical complications is much the same process as recovering from surgery. You will have specific instructions from your doctor to avoid certain activities, to rest for a certain period of time and to keep yourself well hydrated. The specifics of your complication may require additional intervention, in the form of prescribed antibiotics or further corrective surgery. Rest is the most important part of the equation though, both mentally and physically.