A varicocele (say "VAR-uh-koh-seel") is a large vein that forms in one or both testicles. The blood pools, making the vein larger than normal. To fix the problem, your doctor tied off the end of the vein so the blood will not pool. After surgery, you may have slight pain in your groin for 3 to 6 weeks. Your scrotum and groin may be bruised and swollen. This will go away in 3 to 4 weeks.
You will probably be able to return to work or your normal routine in 2 to 3 days after microscopic surgery, depending on your job. If your job involves intense activity or lifting, it may take a week or more before you can go back. If you had an open surgery, it may take longer to return to work and your normal routines.
You may need to wear snug underwear or compression shorts for about 2 weeks after the surgery or as your doctor instructs you.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Lie down as much as you can for the first 24 hours. Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
- After the first day, try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
- Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, for about 3 weeks after the surgery or until your doctor says it is okay.
- For about 7 days after surgery, avoid lifting more than about 10 pounds. This may include a child, heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, cat litter or dog food bags, or a vacuum cleaner.
- Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
- Most people are able to return to work 2 or 3 days after surgery. This depends on the type of work you do and how you feel. It may take up to a week or more.
- You may shower unless your doctor tells you not to. Pat the cut (incision) dry. Do not take a bath for about 5 days.
- Ask your doctor when it is okay for you to have sex.
- You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
- You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. You may want to take a fiber supplement every day. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, ask your doctor about taking a mild laxative.
- Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
- If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
- Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
- If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
- If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
- If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
- If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
- Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
- Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.
- A small amount of thin, clear, pinkish fluid may drain from the incision. This will last for a few days after the surgery.
- You may gently wash the incision with warm, soapy water and pat it dry, unless your doctor gives you different instructions.
- If you have strips of tape on the incision, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off.
- You will feel a hard ridge under your skin where the incision was made. This is normal. The ridge will gradually soften up and flatten out over 3 to 6 weeks.
- To help with pain, put ice or a cold pack on your groin for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours (when you are awake) for the first day after surgery.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You passed out (lost consciousness).
- You have severe trouble breathing.
- You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
- You have loose stitches, or your incision comes open.
- Bright red blood has soaked through a bandage over the incision.
- You have signs of infection, such as:
- Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
- Red streaks leading from the incision.
- Pus draining from the incision.
- A fever.
- You have new or worse nausea or vomiting.
- You are too sick to your stomach to drink any fluids.
- You cannot keep down fluids.
Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
- The swelling in your scrotum is not going away.
- You feel pain when you urinate.
- You do not have a bowel movement after taking a laxative.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter J148 in the search box to learn more about "Varicocele Repair: What to Expect at Home".
Current as of: June 16, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Christopher G. Wood MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology