Recovery and diet after surgery

Nissen fundoplication for severe acid reflux

You can expect to go home 1 to 3 days after Nissen fundoplication surgery. If you have open surgery, you might need to stay in hospital for longer.

You need to eat less, and more slowly, than you did before surgery. While you recover, you have a diet of blended, then soft, food.

Diet after surgery

Only drink water for the rest of the day after your surgery. Do not have fizzy drinks because burping might be difficult or impossible after your procedure.

You can start a liquid diet the day after surgery. You need to cut up or blend all of your food for up to 4 to 6 weeks. During this time, only eat foods that can be swallowed as a paste (without any lumps). Start by having soft, small and frequent meals.

If you do not chew foods well or try to swallow large mouthfuls, there is a chance that food will get stuck. This can be very uncomfortable.

Side effects of a Nissen fundoplication

The most common side effect is difficulty swallowing. This is common immediately after the surgery because of swelling. It gradually improves.

Some people find it hard to poo (constipation) and need to take laxatives. This is medicine used to help you poo.

Other common side effects are less burping, and more bloating and farting (flatulence). Most of these symptoms settle with time.

Feeling sick (nausea)

If you feel sick after surgery, we give you anti-sickness medicine. Do not eat until the feeling passes. This is to avoid being sick (vomiting) or retching (gagging or nearly vomiting). If that happens, it can cause movement of the surgical site (wrap migration).

It is important to take any anti-sickness medicine that we give you, even after you go home.

Pain after surgery

You might have some neck and shoulder pain immediately after your surgery. This because of the gas used to inflate your stomach.

You might also feel uncomfortable around the wound sites and around the muscles in your tummy. You might have mild pain for up to a week after your surgery.

We give you pain medicine during your hospital stay. Please tell a nurse if you are uncomfortable.

When you leave hospital, we give you a prescription for painkillers. The nurses explain how to take painkillers and what to do when you get home.

Contact your GP if you:

  • have a high temperature (fever)
  • have an unusually high amount of pain
  • feel sick (nausea) or are being sick (vomiting), which means that you cannot eat properly

Call 999 or go to your nearest emergency department (A&E) if:

  • you have severe chest or tummy pain
  • you are being sick (vomiting) and cannot keep any fluids down
  • you are being sick (vomiting) and passing blood
  • you have difficulty swallowing and food is getting stuck

Returning to your activities

  • You can do light activity within a couple of days of surgery.
  • You need to avoid heavy activity for 6 weeks.
  • You can drive again when you can confidently make an emergency stop. However, it is a good idea to check with your insurance company when you are covered to drive again.
  • You might need 2 to 3 weeks or more off work. This depends on the type of job that you have.

Follow-up appointment

You get an appointment to see the surgeon and clinical nurse specialist in the outpatient department about 6 weeks after your surgery.

Resource number: 4855/VER2
Last reviewed: June 2022
Next review due: June 2025

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns about Nissen fundoplication surgery, please contact the benign upper GI clinical nurse specialist.

Phone: 020 7188 2673, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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