Post Surgical needs at home?

Anyone have any suggestions regarding items to have at home after craniotomy surgery ?

Read some have neck pain from hours of head being locked in one position - what can help w/pain at home?

  1. Pain ointment or spray?
  2. Other suggestions?

Read many have ongoing headache pains - what did you use for relief?

  1. If ice pack - Any recommendations on what kind?
  2. Heating pad?
  3. OTC meds?

Getting dressed:

  1. Can you put tops on that don’t button down?
  2. Can you bend over to put on socks/shoes?

Any ideas/suggestions at all??

What can/can’t you do after arriving home?

Thank you!!!

1 Like

Hey Marsi,
I’ve got to say first, I’m yet to hear of 2 exactly the same craniotomy and recovery stories. Some can have minimal after effects, for others those effects can be overwhelming. But in saying that, here are some of my suggestions:

-Pain ointments and sprays weren’t any benefit for me. My pain was my head, behind my eyes, inside. I couldn’t get to the pain. The incision was itchy as OMG and there are some lotions/potions which can assist with this BUT you MUST speak to your Dr about such things. The very last thing you want to do is compromise the wound healing process. Some lotions promise the world, but an infection could be life changing, so ask your Dr.

-Set up your zone. Stock up on what you think you’ll need ie snacks/medications/puzzle books etc. With some people computers are OK, others can’t handle the blue light from the screen. It’s similar with smartphones and screens. But, if you do have tech, make sure you have all of the plugs and cords you may need, close by. You don’t want to be head down, bum up, in a cupboard or cardboard box hunting for a charger. (if I get my head lower than my heart ie head down, bum up WHOOOHW I’m seeing stars, dizzy, nausea and, on ocassions, found myself in a pile on the floor).

-I could pull on tops, slowly. I found more of a sideways action rather than arms up. As for shoes and socks, yes, but from a seated position, bringing my leg up rather than bending down to my feet.

-Place the things you need at your level. None of this reaching for the top shelf type stuff. Don’t be exerting yourself in ANY way. At least for the first week or so at least, then only minimally.

-For me, the OTC meds were of very little benefit at all. If you can manage on OTC meds, for your general health, that would be better. Me personally, I found I need an opiate to knock the pain.

-A dark, silent space, where you can lay down, with lots of pillows. I found my positioning was important and I needed back support (Pillows). For me post surgery, light was a BIG issue. Noise was another trigger. If you know your ‘triggers’ (what can make you symptomatic) avoid them. My wife has a friend, she’s a nice lady, but her laugh can make the walls shake. It can reverberate around me for about 1/2 an hour, any longer and I can feel the headache coming. When she visits I do the meet’n’greet, then I vanish to the other end of the house. On a good day, it’s all OK, but sometimes she triggers me badly.

I did use a wheatbag heatpack for my neck and shoulders, but for me the icepacks were too much and rather than assist, the cold exacerbated my symptoms. I found hydrotherapy very good for giving the deep whole body relaxation.

Other people/friends/family may offer to assist and give advice. As hard as it can be sometimes, Welcome it. They only want to help. I was drowned in sympathy and to be honest I wanted to tell them all to go home and leave me alone. Trying to console me with stories like "well, my friend ‘John’ had brain surgery and he’s OK…', but whilst I have a man with a sledgehammer bashing his way through my forehead, the very last person I want to hear about is your friend ‘John’. But there maybe times when you REALLY do need that assistance, so don’t push them away too far.

Finally, I want to say, you might go through all of this and find you don’t need any of it and we all hope/wish/pray that this is the case, but on the off chance that your recovery doesn’t run as you planned, taking care of it prior can save you a LOT of headaches (no pun intended). As I tell everybody, this is a time to be kind to yourself. Listen to your body and it will tell you when you need to rest.

Merl from the Modsupport Team


I agree with everything that @ModSupport suggested. I didn’t have any craniotomy, but coils and six months later coils and a stent that was inserted in my brain through my groin. I had a drain in my skull during the initial bleed and that burr hole was stitched up before I got home. I remember that I got very clear instructions what medicine I should take for pain and also what to do and not to do with the incision on my scalp. I am sure that you will get the same. Don’t put any lotion or ointments on the stitches, you can get an infection.
I also agree that bending down with your head is not a good idea, you will most likely lose your balance and fall over. Always sit down when you dress and undress, especially when you are putting your socks on, your pants etc.This is basic fall prevention stuff. It’s also a good idea to have some really soft and comfortable clothes during your first time at home. For me, a plastic shower bench came handy, I felt more secure when I could sit down in our bathtub and take a shower. My husband bought it at one of the major retailers in town and it wasn’t expensive.
Also, make sure your pantry is well stocked, cook some extra food and put in the freezer. This will not be the time to run errands. Make sure your home is in order, cleaned, laundry ready and bills taken care of. And of course someone has to stay with you for a while. There is an excellent post about how to get ready for surgery if you search on our site.
To be prepared for the surgery and take all the different steps to make it as comfortable for you and your family when you get back home is something that will keep you busy in a good way and time will pass. Take walks and try to build up your stamina is also important for your recovery. The waiting time is the worst, to be anxious is not uncommon, to take walks or doing some work around your garden can be very soothing.
Best of luck to you. We are here to support you.


Oct20 and modsquad
Wow!!! Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I’d rather have & not need than need and not have! Based on your experience I’m pretty well prepared. I’m so glad I’m going through this without having children or others living in my home, hats off to those who do or have had families at home to work around. My sons are both adults & while they’re here they’re capable to care for themselves & me! Once they leave my older sister will be with me. I appreciate your guidance on meds and ointments that need to be discussed w/my doctor. I started a list of questions for my doctor that I’ll ask my oldest to ensure get answered after my surgery.


If you can, try to get some of those questions to his staff prior to surgery so you will be even more prepared. I use my patient portal and the wonderful NP always answers my questions and talks them over with my Neurosurgeon.

I’ve never had a craniotomy but for each procedure I’ve been given strict weight limits. If you can, do what the hospital does and try to keep your head at a 30 degree angle when sleeping. I’m unsure why this helps but it does. Maybe @oct20 knows, she’s pretty smart about these things.

I often tell people to straighten up their house and do all the heavy work prior to any procedure. I just now remembered we always wash our sheets the day before as there’s nothing better than to get into clean sheets when I go to bed😂

I have had a few stitches in my life and it’s very important to follow the doctors suggestions. I’ve found that after the stitches get out and the ok from the doctor to put anything on, I just buy a bottle of those liquid vitamin E capsules as they are cheaper than buying the oil. I use a sewing needle or something small and sharp to prick the end and apply that to the scar, seems to help me better than all the other stuff available. I think my Grandma taught me that.

Unlike Merl (@ModSupport) I find an ice pack helps me more. But like he always says everyone is different. I do keep both handy. The ice pack I use is the one I got from the hospital when I had foot surgery. I don’t know the brand name and unfortunately it must be in a mislabeled box from the movers as I can’t find it… The ice pack has gel in it and it’s easy to get it to the curve I need. We also picked up a couple extra chargers and cables so I don’t have to move any.

@Moltroub @Marsi
I will give you my two cents regarding ice packs . You don’t have to buy the special gel packs, you can use a frozen bag of peas, put it in a towel and “crush “it with your fingers and it will fit exactly where you want it. Never put the ice packs directly on your skin.


That’s really great advice and an excellent way to use peas!

Agree with all that was said above. I personally found my heating pad and stack of pillows (2 was the right number for me) were my best friend.

I also got an eye mask that doubles as a cold/heat pack - it worked wonders for my headaches! I couldn’t secure it around my head but would rest it on my eyes or forehead and it was a great relief when the tylenol didn’t cut it. I was told only to take tylenol, but they allowed me to take my prescribed Nurtec after a few weeks (have taken it for years for migraines).

Also - consider downloading a few good podcasts or audiobooks. I was very screen sensitive then developed double vision and would get very bored! I was very tired (often too tired to try coloring or puzzles) so sometimes laying down with an audiobook and my eye mask was a great way to pass the time.

In terms of getting dressed, OT visited me before I was discharged from the hospital and taught me how to put on socks without bending (bend your leg to put foot on the other knee while sitting down) and I had a rotation of grippy socks from that hospital stay/previous ones, plus some grippy barre socks. Definitely not a necessity at home, but I was comforted having grippy socks or slippers on while moving around since my floors are slippery and I was fairly weak/unsteady at first.

Best of luck with your recovery!


Thank you for all the recommendations, ideas, suggestions and sharing!!! My surgery went as planned on 4/27. It ended up being an 8-9 hr surgery. I was released from hospital on Sunday evening!!! Everyday gets easier & less concerning to me. Months prior to my surgery I was experiencing migraines everyday with most waking me between 2-4am then building up & down throughout each day. The same continued the Friday & Saturday AM after surgery. This morning Sunday 5/7 I woke up on my own without migraine or any other pain!!! I did everything I was told to do while in the hospital & even now with continued confidence and improvement!!! Make aire you talk corridor walks ASAP to get out ASAP!!! It worked!!!

Due to reading & hearing how some surgeons did not shave hair away from the stitch area I made it my most critical item to address! My surgeon, Dr Wuang removed about a 1” path and it worked out great in having other hair covering the many staples! No ingrown hairs!!! Tomorrow my staples get removed & it will be welcomed!!! Post surgery- if you feel tire ~ rest and/or nap!!! If not you risk feeling unstable and/or shaky. My surgeon did allow me to return taking Nurtec 24-48 hrs after release & every other day after!


This is wonderful news! Congratulations to a successful surgery. It’s a relief knowing that it is over. Now you can relax and recover and slowly get back to your new normal. To get the stitches out will be great too. Don’t rush, let the recovery process take time. Let us know how it goes and by posting your story you will help others on this journey.

Excellent news! By now you’ve had the staples out, good for you!

Well it’s been a month post surgery for aneurysm clippings and I am doing well considering how things could’ve gone!

. My number 1 recommendation is to build yourself a group of prayer warriors and/or support group! I felt so much peace once my group grew knowing the people cheering me on and many I had not seen or talked to since 9th grade! I was overwhelmed and ever so grateful!

  1. Prepare for the worst at home & with family the pray/hope for the best outcome. Add an extra table next to your bed so you can have pills, your drinks, cell phone, laptop, TV remote etc. within easy reach for your return home. Don’t forget to have the cords & plugs for electronics!

  2. Make sure you have a safety mat in your tub, grab bar on tub, non-slip rug in bathroom floor, extra water bottles in your bedroom, and remove throw rugs where you’ll most likely walk through in your home. I also had pens & paper which worked out great because TV colors & sounds aggravated my eyes and increased headaches for me. As I had questions for my doctor I jotted them down and I also wrote reminders of things I needed to remember to do.

  3. I am ever so thankful I order a 12” wedge memory foam pillow as you don’t want to lay flat or on the side of the surgery (increase blood pooling to that side per nurse/doctor at hospital). Wedge pillow prevents laying flat or on side and you can set it on the 12” wedge bottom to sit upright so you feel awake, alive, and ready to recover. I ordered mine on sale at Macys- Nestl, 12” Foam Wedge with Bolster Pillow. The bolster pillow is awesome when sitting up I put full size pillow between my low back & wedge then the bolster I put along my shoulders. When sleeping it went behind my neck!

  4. I had and bought a couple pair of pajama bottoms that were comfy & could be worn outside for my brief initial walks along with button down shirts that served same purpose! I alternated & lived in them for about 10days or so.

  5. My niece who’s a nurse recommended I purchase air purifiers for my home that show when your air is purified. I am glad I did… I bought 2 medium sized ones so 1 was in my living room and the other in my bedroom! Everyone who came into my house after adding them commented on how the air was cool and just very comfortable to breathe and feel. The purifiers tell you the square foot it will cover and have various ranges. I got Levoit brand (recommended by 3 family members who got them during Covid) from Amazon! Filter is easy to clean off and not terrible expensive to change when needed as original lasts 6 months or longer! Since it cools my air and inexpensive to run all day at a variety of levels I can set my air conditioner at higher temps to save on it!

  6. I received awesome slipper/shoes that came from Amazon - XIHALOOK Fuzzy Fleece they look like a slipper with a nice rubber bottom! They can be worn in or outside! You can slip them in and allow the back heel to fold down or easily pull the heel onto your heal easily! They only have a very thin layer of fleece so not toohot for me!

  7. Make sure your have plenty of Tylenol Extra Strength as that’s pretty much the only medicine you’ll be permitted to take for headaches! I went through more than 50 in this past month!

  8. Have soft food choices in your home, if craniotomy as the chewing muscle gets cut in half then sewn back. I swear my taste buds changed and my appetite was gone so I had to be reminded to eat throughout the day. You’ll want a few choices available at home so here are some suggestions: protein drinks, ingredients for smoothies, yogurts, soups, eggs, oatmeal, cream of wheat or rice cereal, etc.

Best wishes your surgery goes as well as mine did!


Ahh, I need to clarify here. This depends on the location of the annie and the location of the craniotomy. For example my craniotomy was performed through the top of the parietal bone, well away from those muscles.
Now, in saying that, I would still recommend soft foods. You don’t want to be chomping down on a t-bone steak for a while. When you chew vigorously you use your neck muscles too and this can cause the tendons connected to the base of the skull to pull, not what you want (or need).

Merl from the Modsupport Team


This is an excellent post for others waiting to have their surgery. I’m glad to hear that you are doing well.