A Bypass Surgery involves the creation of another ‘passageway’ for blood and oxygen to pass through for those who are suffering from Coronary Artery Disease (CAD.) In most cases, this involves taking a healthy blood vessel elsewhere from your body and then ‘grafting’ it onto the blocked artery to create an alternate route. Is Bypass Surgery painful?
Patients spend the entire operation under a general anesthetic. So, barring any complications, no pain should be felt during the surgery. However, depending on how the surgery goes, you may experience pain post-surgery.
Bypass surgery takes, on average, around 3-6 hours. As mentioned, no pain should be felt during the surgery as you’ll be under a general anesthetic. However, it is what occurs during the surgery that could potentially result in painful symptoms after the fact.
The operation may require that your heart be stopped mid-surgery, and for that instance, your body will be running ‘on-pump’ (heart-lung machines that keep your blood circulating.) Once the healthy artery has been removed from elsewhere on your body, the doctor will then graft it above or below the blocked artery.
Depending on the level of your CAD, you may have to get two or more grafts, which will result in longer operation time and far more complex procedures.
What You Should Expect Post-Surgery
It is after the surgery that you will have to worry about any pain, but even then, you will be watched carefully in order to make sure that your heart and lungs are okay. This will involve a couple of days spent in the intensive care unit, before being moved to one of the regular rooms for further observation.
Most people report feeling sore around their chest area in the first 2-3 days after the procedure, however, pain medication is prescribed in order to deal with this pain. After 4 or 5 days, you may be allowed to leave the hospital, but you’ll be given strict instructions on how to handle your recovery at home until you are able to go back to your normal, everyday activity.
People experience recovery after CABG surgery differently and depending on whether you suffered from any complications after the fact, you may expect to experience more severe pain than others. There’s also known to be a difference in the experience of those based on their age, gender, nationality, etc.
Like, for example, according to this study, around 47% of women reported experiencing “moderate to severe” pain until the 9th-week mark of their discharge from CABG surgery.
Conclusion: Is Bypass Surgery Painful?
Because of the complexity of the procedure experiencing pain during it is only to be expected. However, the pain cannot be quantified between one person and another. Different people experience different levels of pain after being discharged from CABG surgery. However, don’t let that persuade you not to go through it.
Just remember that you will be under an anesthetic during the operation and that you will be provided support after the fact to make sure that the pain is dulled enough to allow you to recover smoothly.
- Parry, Monica, et al. “Pain Experiences of Men and Women after Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery.” The Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2010, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20386237.