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Caring for Your Child After an Appendectomy

Medically reviewed by: Loren Berman, MD

After an appendectomy (surgery to remove the appendix), your child will need to rest. It takes a few weeks to feel back to normal again.

What Should I Expect?

Most kids recover well at home after an appendectomy. In the first few days after surgery, here are some things you might notice — and what you can do:

  • Pain. Your child probably will have belly pain. Kids who had laparoscopic surgery also might have shoulder pain. Ease your child's pain by using the medicine that the surgeon recommended. If the pain gets worse or does not get better after using the pain medicine, call your surgeon.
  • Lack of appetite. Your child might not feel like eating after surgery. Start with clear liquids like chicken broth and water. When your child feels a bit hungrier, offer bland foods like crackers. Don't force your child to eat. If your child isn't drinking anything or hasn't started eating by 2 days after the surgery, call your surgeon.
  • Lack of energy. It's normal for kids to feel tired for a few days after surgery. Let your child rest as needed. Call your surgeon if your child doesn't start to have more energy by about a week after surgery.
  • Sore throat. The breathing tube used during anesthesia can leave kids with a sore throat. The pain should go away in a day or two. Offer your child ice chips and cool drinks to soothe the pain.
  • Constipation. It can take a few days to have a bowel movement (poop). As kids start to drink and eat again, they should go back to having normal bowel movements. Call your surgeon if your child has not pooped by 2 days after the surgery. Sometimes the surgeon will recommend a mild laxative (medicine that makes a person poop).
  • Fever. Some children may have a low fever of around 99°F (37°C) in the first day or two after surgery. It should go away within 2 days. Call the surgeon if your child has a temperature of 101.5°F (38.6°C) or higher. This could be a sign of an infection.

How Can I Help My Child?

To help your child feel better faster, follow your surgeon's instructions for:

  • when and what your child can eat
  • which medicine to give for pain
  • other medicines to give, if any
  • bathing
  • which activities are OK
  • when to come back for a follow-up visit

When Should I Call the Doctor?

Call your surgeon if your child:

  • has a fever of 101.5°F (38.6°C) or higher
  • has redness, swelling, or pus draining from any of the incisions (cuts)
  • has pain that gets worse or doesn't get better after taking pain medicine
  • is vomiting (throwing up)
  • will not drink
  • doesn't start eating by 1–2 days after surgery
  • hasn't had a bowel movement (pooped) by 2 days after the surgery
  • has diarrhea

If your child has any of these problems, your surgeon may want to see your child or ask you to go to your pediatrician, visit urgent care, or have a telemedicine visit.

It's rare for kids to have serious problems after an appendectomy. But if the doctor thinks your child needs attention right away, they will tell you to take your child to the emergency room (ER).

Medically reviewed by: Loren Berman, MD
Date reviewed: January 2023