What Is Recovery Like After a Craniectomy?

If your physician has recommended a craniectomy as part of your treatment plan, you likely have many questions about what this procedure will entail and what you can expect following surgery. During a craniectomy, a small portion of the skull is removed to relieve pressure on the brain and create an opening that allows a surgeon to remove a brain tumor. In a craniectomy, the portion of the skull is not immediately replaced at the end of the procedure so that there is space for swelling as the brain heals. Once this swelling has subsided, the piece of skull can then be reattached.

What can I expect following a craniectomy?

Although each hospitalization will vary person to person following a craniectomy, you will be closely monitored as the brain recovers from the procedure. When you wake up from the surgery, your surgeon will provide you with some instructions to help aid in your recovery. These include:

  • Using pain medications – If you experience pain at the site of the incision, this can be managed by taking pain medications.
  • Wearing a special helmet – Following the surgery, you will need to wear a special helmet that protects your head and allows you to heal properly.
  • Modifying your activity level – You’ll want to avoid rigorous activities or any motions that may injure your head and interfere with your recovery.
  • Follow-up surgery – Eventually, after you have fully recovered from the craniectomy, a follow-up surgery may be scheduled to replace the portion of the skull, either with the original piece of bone or with an artificial plate.

Where can I go to receive brain surgery?

At Moffitt, we offer individualized treatment plans and supportive care services for patients with brain cancer. The multispecialty team that makes up our Neuro-Oncology Program collaborates as a tumor board to ensure our patients receive the comprehensive treatment and care they deserve to improve outcomes and their quality of life. If a craniectomy is recommended as part of your treatment plan, our highly experienced surgeons can help you understand what to expect before and after your procedure.

To learn more about receiving a craniectomy or another brain cancer treatment at Moffitt, call 1-888-663-3488 or fill out a new patient registration form online. No referral is required to schedule an appointment.