Epilepsy Surgery: Under­stand­ing Your Care

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Why am I to have epilepsy surgery now?

  • Your seizures are not being con­trolled with seizure medicine
  • Your doc­tors have been able to find the place in your brain where your seizures begin

Could there be prob­lems caused by the surgery?

With any surgery on the brain, there is a small risk of hav­ing these problems:

  • You may get infection
  • You may have some bleeding
  • You may have weak­ness in a part of your body

What hap­pens on the day of my surgery?

ImageYou will go to the oper­at­ing room by stretcher where you will meet the oper­at­ing room nurses and doc­tors. From the time you are taken from your hos­pi­tal room until the time you are taken to the recov­ery room will be about 6 to 8 hours. The surgery will be done under gen­eral anaes­the­sia. You will have a small head ban­dage, which will be removed after a few days.

Will my hair need to be shaved?

Yes. Your doc­tor will decide how much of your hair will have to be shaved. Your hair will start to grow back very soon and will hide your scar.

How will I feel after the surgery?

  • You may have some swelling around your eye and face, have a headache, have nau­sea, or feel sore.
  • Seizures may con­tinue in the first few days after surgery. This is not unusual.
  • You may find that it hurts to chew and open your mouth.

Ask your nurse for some med­i­cine to relieve your pain.

You should feel much bet­ter by day 3 and feel ready to go home by day 4.

What will hap­pen to my seizures?

You may still have seizures the first few days after surgery. This is not unusual.

What should I do after I go home?


  • When you go home please take it easy and get plenty of sleep.
  • Have a friend or fam­ily mem­ber come and help you for a few days.
  • Your stitches will be removed in 7 to 10 days. This can be done by your C.L.S.C., local clinic or your fam­ily doctor.
  • Do not do things that have trig­gered your seizures in the past.
  • Wait 4 to 6 weeks before going back to work, school or doing activ­i­ties that require effort.
  • It is very impor­tant that you con­tinue to take your seizure med­i­cine that the doc­tor has ordered for you.

What about my emotions?

Some peo­ple find that their emo­tions go up and down dur­ing the first weeks after surgery. You may feel “blue” or depressed or become excited or elated. These feel­ings are tem­po­rary but you may need to take med­i­cine for this for a short time.

Each person’s recov­ery after surgery is dif­fer­ent. Your doc­tors, nurses and social worker are avail­able to pro­vide sup­port and answer your questions.

When do I go back to see my doctor?

Reg­u­lar follow-​ups will be sched­uled with your doc­tors. It is impor­tant to keep these appoint­ments. The doc­tor will want to see how you are heal­ing from your surgery and if the surgery has reduced your seizures.

Call your sur­geon imme­di­ately if:


  • Your headaches increase
  • You get a fever or stiff neck
  • Your wound becomes red, swollen, painful or starts to ooze any fluid.

If you are unable to reach your sur­geon or if you have any ques­tions please call the epilepsy nurse clin­i­can at (514) 3985797

Infor­ma­tion about InfoNEURO
Neuro-​Patient Resource Cen­tre
Mon­treal Neu­ro­log­i­cal Hosp­tial Room 354
Tel: (514) 3985358
E-​mail: infoneuro@​muhc.​mcgill.​ca
Web site: http://​infoneuro​.mcgill​.ca/

This infor­ma­tion is for edu­ca­tional pur­poses only, and is not intended to replace the advice of a pro­fes­sional health­care prac­ti­tioner, or to sub­sti­tute for med­ical care.

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Devel­oped by Patri­cia Kerr, BSc(N), CNN©, Sheila Kout­so­giannopou­los, BSc(N), CNN©, Naomi Akazawa, BSc(N) of the MUHC Epilepsy Pro­gram and Eileen Beany Peter­son, MLIS.
Reviewed by Dr. A. Olivier and Dr. J. Hall, Neu­ro­surgery.
Pro­duced by the Neuro-​Patient Resource Cen­tre 2006. McGill Uni­ver­sity Health Cen­tre

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