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Treatments & Procedures

Kidney Transplant Surgery Recovery

Now that I feel better, when can I return to my regular activities?

You can resume your previous activities as soon as you feel better -- and you might even feel good enough to add some new activities. A daily exercise program will continue to improve your health and help you maintain a positive attitude.

You will not injure yourself or your new kidney if you follow some of these general guidelines:

  • Avoid lifting heavy objects and strenuous physical work for at least six to eight weeks following surgery. It is important that you also do not lift anything heavier than 20 pounds for two to three months, and nothing heavier than 40 pounds for four to six months from the date of your surgery.
  • Avoid driving for at least six weeks following surgery. Plan ahead so a friend or family member can help out during this time. When you are in a moving vehicle, always use your seat belt.
  • Exercise is encouraged, and we recommend beginning with stretching exercises and walking. Other excellent exercises include jogging, hiking, bicycling, tennis, golf, swimming, and aerobics. All of these can help you regain your strength and may be started gradually after your incision has healed.
  • As a general rule, rough contact sports should be avoided since they might cause injury to your transplanted kidney. If you have doubts about any activity, please ask the Transplant Team.

When will I be able to return to work?

Many kidney transplant patients are able to return to work within a few months following a successful surgery. However, various aspects of the recovery process can effect the timing of your return.

You will need to discuss returning to your job with the Transplant Team. When the time approaches, a "return to work" letter will provided. This will let your employer know when you may begin working and what limitations, if any, you have.

How soon can I take a vacation?

You may travel as soon as you are feeling better, but always let the Transplant Team know when you plan to go and provide a phone number where you can be reached. By remembering these traveling tips, your vacation will be worry free:

  • Always take all of your medicine with you and make sure you have enough medicine to last throughout your trip.
  • If you are traveling by plane, carry your medicine with you. Never check them with your luggage.
  • Make sure you have your Transplant Center's phone number.
  • Check to see if there is a medical laboratory or transplant center nearby where you can have your blood work completed. This lab will need to report your results to your Transplant office.

Will there be any problems with my sexuality after the surgery?

While a kidney transplant can cause many life changes, it does not affect a woman's desire to become pregnant or hinder a man's ability to father a child.

Recommendations for female transplant patients

Although fertility is not a problem, rejection or high blood pressure are both complications a woman might experience for at least one year following transplant surgery. It is important to prevent a pregnancy during this time by taking extra precautions. This doesn't mean that you cannot have a healthy pregnancy later. However, you should know the risks and make sure your doctor has experience dealing with a transplant patient.

It is also important to know that a transplant patient who becomes a new mother should not breastfeed her baby. The immunosuppressive medicine prescribed after transplantation can be passed through the mother's breast milk and can cause harm to the baby.

Female transplant patients should be sure to have a yearly PAP test (a test for cancer of the cervix) and a mammogram. Immunosuppressive medicine could cause increased susceptibility to various types of cancer. Pap tests and mammograms are preventive measures that can help your health care providers detect any problems.

Recommendations for male transplant patients

Male transplant patients might experience difficulty with erections of the penis after surgery. This might be caused by a reduction of blood flow to the penis, or it might be a result of the transplant medicine. In most cases, this situation can be corrected.

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Can't find the health information you’re looking for?

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 9/15/2008...#4352