Recovery from Clipping Surgery

Today I made the decision to have the elective craniotomy for the aneurysm on the left side of my brain. I was diagnosed 6/25/13. Realized I made this decision with very little information about what the experience is like. Everyone is different but I just want some idea from people who have beeen through this surgery

Wow, Gwen. It was definitely rough. But well worth it I feel. My surgery was 7 1/2 hours and I was in ICU until the next afternoon. The surgery was done on Monday afternoon and the plan was to send me home on Wednesday afternoon. I had a hemorrhage during the surgery and lost quite a bit of blood. Wendesday I felt horrible and wasn't able to walk, they thought they were going to need to do a tranfusion. They kept me an extra day. I came home Thursday. Due to some heart issues that I have my recovery took a little longer than my neurosurgeon expected, but 5 weeks after my surgery I danced the mother son dance at my son's wedding. All in all, I feel that things went really well. I will definitely do it again, when the time comes to treat my new aneurysm. Please feel free to ask any questions that you like.

~ Carol

Hi Gwen. I am sure you will get many different responses. I will say that I was very lucky. My surgery was around 7 hours start to finish (at least according to my husband) and went very well. My head was shaved about 1/2 an inch ear to ear. Based on my annie, my doctor thought I *might* need a bypass surgery (which I ended up not needing), so he entered the skull through my forehead. The scalp was pulled forward and they cut open the skull. I did not experience any complications during surgery. They closed my skull with a few pins and screws. I had specifically told the doctors that I did not want any bumps on my forehead. So, in order to smooth out my skull, they took a little fat from my stomach and injected it into my forehead. (Yes, I had awesome doctors).

I have also been extremely lucky with my recovery. I am almost 9 weeks post op. I was in the hospital for 6 days. I was in the ICU 4 days. but that was only because they did not have a room on the regular floor. I should have only been in ICU for 2 days. I did have some issues with nausea and vomiting and not tolerating pain meds. They had been giving me IV meds, but my body didn't like them. They finally found an oral pain med I was able to tolerate. After 4 days I was able to start eating Jello and applesauce and sips of apple juice and water.

I was pretty dizzy and off balance. Needless to say I did not want to get up and walk, but I did because I knew I would not get discharged otherwise. Sleeping was quite difficult because I could not get comfortable. My pain level was kept pretty low. Having to use a commode was NOT the highlight of my stay. To pass the occupations therapy they took me to a little kitchen and had me fry an egg and make a cup of tea. This was to determine that I could care for myself at home. Not sure what other hospitals do. Since I was pretty dizzy physical therapy did not test me and just referred me for an evaluation when I was discharged.

I was fortunate to have several different family members come and help out since I have three small kids. I was on a few restrictions. No lifting over 10 pounds, no driving, no alcohol, and no strenuous activities. While the fatigue has gotten better, it was worse in the beginning. I would get up late and take a few naps during the day. It took a while for my appetite to return. I would get sharp shooting pain in the suture site. They would only last for a few seconds. The emotional aspect can be overwhelming. I have experienced depression and anxiety. I have gotten overwhelmed by the tiniest things.

I just went for my follow up this week. I had a CT scan. Everything looks great and my doctor told me I am recovering "with flying colors." I think having help and taking it very easy truly helped my recovery. Also, having this site for support really helped.

I hope my novel helps give you some information.


Hello Gwen,Like Carol said, the clipping surgery is rough but so worth it, I'd do it a third time if I needed to (hope I don't need to ofcourse) but it sure beats the anxiety related to coils and their compaction rates.

My 1st clipping was in 1998, one pounding headache which snapped my 3rd optic nerve in two on my left eye, brought me in to see the omphomoligist who immediatley referred me to ER for possible aneurysm and yes, he was on the money with his diagnosas. I had an emergency clipping (they didn't offer coils back then which is just as well) and according to my neurosurgeon the surgery (7 hours) went "text book smoothe." My Recovery was good and steady, but I had complete double vision afterward (which healed itself after about 4 months) due to the optic nerve getting nudged out by the rather large aneurysm--I was fortunate that the optic nerve let go instead of the growing annie rupturing on me. I went into the hospital on the night of the 17th and was home by the morning of the 22nd...the surgeon had to cut thru my jaw muscle in order to reach the aneurysm so opening my mouth to eat anything other then yogurt was quite difficult for a time, but was able to comfortably chew within a months time or so...I had staples instead of stitches which were pretty barbaric but once they came out it was so much more comfortable sleeping, but to this day my head is still numb in some areas near the scar but thats not a big deal.

As for my 2010 clipping, that was done in order to fix coils that had compacted on me from an sah/coma/coil in 2006...I knew I had a problem when I suddenly hit the floor one night in 2010 with the same intense pain in the middle of my skull that i'd remembered having just before my world went black in 2006. This time I didn't fall into a coma though (yay), and was able to choose my "fix". I chose another clipping hands down, no questions. The very idea of waiting for the coils to turn my world upside down again didn't set too well with me, and I'm so happy I was able to go the clip route. This time, my recovery was so much better then my 1998 recovery, I was actually driving within a week or so of getting home ! My stitches were so delicate and fine that a women in an elevator mistook my stitches for a tattoo! and sleeping even with the stitches was no problem. I had very little pain to speak of with both surgeries and only took Advil afterwards, but the 2nd time around was a breeze in comparison to the 1st one since I had no double vision to deal with and really , it was something that wasn't nearly as bad as it the procedure sounds to be. You might get a bit of bruising (I did, looked like acoupla' shiners) and as your hair grows back in you'll have the 'got an itch but scratching does little good' type of thing....I shampoo'd my hair as soon as I got home last time , and was just mindful of the stitches but was no big deal. emotionally I recall after both surgeries that I 'went off' at least once over something stupid , but really I don't think I did that more then one time, each surgery.

So overall i'd say my experience with clipping surgeries were both good outcomes yet both really different in the recovery phases, so I hope this helps you out and I hope and pray that you have a very mundane surgery with a super recovery. Oh and i am fortunate in that I had no after-headaches to deal with at all, hope you don't either. Peace , Janet

Thanks for the informaiton Carol. I hope things go smoothly for me. I am sorry that you had to go through such an ordeal but what's that they say "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. Here's to a much stronger woman. Thanks again Carol. God Bless!

Thanks you for sharing your story with me Terri. I found it very helpful and also it allayed my fears. I will definitely follow your suggestions as far as making sure I have help around the house for the firist couple of weeks. Right now my husband is home with me due to unemployment but hopefully that will change soon. Congratulations to getting your surgery behind you. Thanks again for your help.

Gwen, you are blessed to have many here w/the craniotomy results...

To add one thing- I requested sutures instead of staples. Several people on here and mentioned that and I also had read that during my research. Getting the sutures out where no problem.

Not sure if you read any of my other posts, but I had posted about two staples getting left in after surgery. Supposedly they were used to keep draping in place. Getting those two staples out was THE MOST HORRIFIC PAIN in my life. This was after having brain surgery, so that says a lot.

OMG Terri!!!! I can't even imagine. I am definitely going to ask not to have staples. I've had staples on other parts of my body with no pain so I would not have known that they can be my darkest nightmare if they do not go right. Thank you for sharing that.

Thank you for listening


I believe you'll do fine with clipping. It sounds like you may have a small window to do planning for any adverse situations and I would encourage you to do so. If you have the time, ask your Doctor about having a Neuropsych exam prior to the surgery. The reason for this is that should any adverse situation occur and you are still of working age, your post operative Doctors will have a base from which to judge your abilities, before and after surgery. This will be of great importance if you are not able to function as you do prior to surgery. I wish my wife would have had the luxury of having had this test prior to her surgery. If you need more information about this test, just ask. God Bless.


Yes Ed thank you for that information. I would like to have an neuropsych evaluation ASAP. How do you go about getting one. Should I ask my neurosurgeon about getting it. What is it? Seems like an excellent idea and thanks for sharing that information. BE BLESSED


If you are seeing a Neurologist ask them to set one up ASAP, otherwise you can ask your Neurosurgeon or Primary Care Physician. Neuropsych exam practicioners conduct a battery of tests to gain a measure of your cognitive, learning, and general physical abilities. The results are then analyzed and compared to the general population with a similar background as you have. The tests can be up to about 15 hours spread over a few days or simple tests can be given. Nothing invasive is done so you can relax about this type of test.

Thanks! I will set one up on Monday. Have a good night.

Hi Gwen! I had my clipping done in Jan. I am 54 yrs . I was looking forwards to my surgery, as knowing the annis in my head were life threatening, I could not wait! My surgery was 9 hours. I had the same incision as Terri ( a few replies ago). I still have numb areas on my cheek, and top of head. They bumped my optic nerve, only way to reach my anni. So that was my only complication. And seriously... I had no pain. I took Tylenol for a couple days. Was in Icu 1 day, step down 1 day. And home. My eyes both swelled shut. That was the worst for me. It took 4 months to see half decent. But I would do it again. In May, I got a PED. Worst thing I have ever gone through... Good Luck, and God Bless you!

Hi Sandy thank you for sharing your experience. We are of a similar age. I'm 56. I am glad that for the most part your surgery was drama free and you are on your way to mending. Thanks again! Stay blessed.

So sorry Terri it was so hard for you. I had my staples removed about 10 days after surgery in the doctors office along with the stitches and felt nothing. It's amazing how everyones experiences are so different for the same procedure.