Discharge Instructions: Postsurgical Deep Breathing

Deep breathing helps keep your lungs clear. If you’ve had surgery, this will help you get better faster. Deep breathing also helps you breathe easier and may prevent a lung infection.

Home care

Follow these steps to do postsurgical deep breathing:

  • Sit on the edge of a bed or a chair. You can also lie on your back with your knees slightly bent.

  • Hold a pillow or rolled-up towel firmly against your incision with both hands.

  • Breathe out normally.

  • Breathe in deeply through your nose. Feel your stomach push out as you breathe in.

  • Pucker your lips as you would to blow out a candle.

  • With your lips puckered, breathe out slowly through your mouth. You should feel your chest go down as you breathe out.

  • Rest for a few seconds.

  • Repeat the above steps as many times as directed.

Image of man holding pillow to his chest and stomach

Image of man, with pillow held against him, breathing in.

Image of man, holding pillow against him, breathing out.

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When to seek medical care

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or warmth at your incision site

  • Drainage or pus from your incision

  • Brownish or bloody sputum

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Shortness of breath

  • Severe or increasing pain

Follow-up

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.