How Long Does It Take to Recover from Kidney Removal?

Nephrectomy is a surgery to remove a part of or the entire kidney. Majority of the times it is done to remove a benign tumor or treat cancer of kidney. In certain cases, it is done to treat a seriously damaged or diseased kidney. In case of donor nephrectomy, a healthy kidney is removed from a donor to be transplanted into the recipient. What is the recovery time after removal of kidney?

Recovery Time for Kidney Removal

Time of recovery after the surgery and for how long you will stay in the hospital depends on the type of nephrectomy done and your general health. The urinary catheter stays inside for a short duration during the recovery period.

You may suffer from numbness and discomfort near the area of incision. Pain killers are given as required after the surgery. Although coughing and deep breathing may cause pain as the incision is near the diaphragm, yet, breathing exercises are recommended to prevent the occurrence of pneumonia.

You may remain in hospital for one to seven days depending on type of surgery. You can perform light activities after surgery as soon as you feel like doing them. However, heavy lifting and strenuous activities should not be done for up to six weeks after surgery.

Recovery time for kidney removal is about three to six weeks. Initially, you may feel low in energy and it may require up to three to six months for you to feel fully energetic again.

Your physician will provide you detailed instructions regarding your post-surgical activities, diet and restrictions.

Recovery Instructions after Kidney Removal


  • Take rest whenever you feel tired. Getting plenty of sleep may speed your recovery.
  • Go to walk every day. Increase the distance you walk daily. Walking increases circulation of blood and prevents constipation and pneumonia.
  • Don’t do strenuous activities and exercises in which your belly muscles are used such as jogging, cycling, aerobic exercises or weight lifting until your physician recommends you to do them.
  • For a period of at least four weeks, don’t lift anything that causes straining of muscles such as lifting a child, milk containers, heavy bags of groceries, cat litter, vacuum cleaner or heavy backpack or briefcase etc.
  • Place a pillow on the incisions while you take deep breaths or coughs to support your stomach and decrease pain.
  • What is the recovery time for kidney removal? Discuss with your physician about the time you can resume driving.
  • You may have to take four to six weeks off from your work.
  • You may take showers; however, if a drainage tube is put near the incisions avoid taking bath for the initial two weeks. Follow the instructions of your doctor to empty and take care of the drainage tube.
  • Ask your physician when you can resume having sex.


  • You can have normal diet. If you were given a special diet due to a kidney disease before the procedure, eat according to that diet plan until your physician asks you to stop.
  • In case you have stomach upset, eat low-fat, bland foods such as broiled chicken, plain rice, yogurt and toast.
  • Drink lots of fluids/water (unless your physician has advised against it).
  • It is common to develop constipation after surgery. You can take a fiber supplement to avoid constipation and straining. You can also ask your physician about consuming a laxative (mild).


  • Your physician will guide you whether and when you may resume taking your medications. They may also guide you about starting any new drugs if required.
  • If you are on any blood thinning medicines such as Coumadin (warfarin), Plavix (clopidogrel), or aspirin, make sure that you discuss them with your physician. They will guide you whether and when you may resume taking those drugs. Also ensure that you understand the recommendations of your physician.
  • Take pain killers exactly as recommended by your physician.If your physician has given you a prescription painkiller, take it according to the prescription.
  • If your physician has not given a prescription painkiller, take OTC painkiller as recommended by your physician. Read the instructions on the label carefully and follow them.Do not take ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), aspirin, or naproxen (Aleve) or any other NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) unless advised by your physician.
  • If your painkillers are causing stomach problems, consume your medicines after eating food (unless your physician has advised against it). Ask your physician to change the painkiller.
  • If you have been prescribed antibiotics by your physician, take them according to the directions. Don’t stop them as you start feeling better. You are required to consume the entire course of antibiotics prescribed.

Incision Care

  • In case strips of tape are there on the incision, leave them for at least one week or until it gets removed by itself.
  • Wash the surrounding area of the incisions with soapy, warm water daily and pat dry. Avoid using alcohol or hydrogen peroxide as they may slow the process of healing. You can cover your incisions using gauze bandages in case they ooze or rub with clothing. You should change your bandages daily.
  • Keep the surrounding area of the incisions dry and clean.

Follow-Up Care Forms a Vital Part of Treatment

Make sure to be regular with all appointment. Call your physician or nurse line in case of any problems. You can also keep a list of medications you take and know the results of your tests.

Monitor Your Kidney Function

Majority of individuals can function quite well with one full kidney and partial second kidney or only one kidney. You may likely require checkups for monitoring the below mentioned factors in relation to functioning of kidneys:

  • Blood pressure: You may need to monitor your blood pressure carefully as reduced function of kidneys can raise your blood pressure- and raised blood pressure may in turn cause damage to your kidneys.
  • Urine protein levels: High urine protein levels also called proteinuria indicate damage to kidneys and poor function of kidneys.
  • Filtration of waste: Glomerular filtration rate measures the efficiency of your kidneys to filter waste. The creatinine level is measured in a sample of blood. A decreased filtration rate is an indication of reduced kidney function.

How to Take Care of Your Healthy Kidney

After you have a complete kidney removal or a partial kidney removal, your overall function of kidney may be normal. To preserve your kidney function, your physician may recommend eating a well-balanced and healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity and attending regular medical checkups for monitoring the health of your kidney.

In case you develop reduced function of kidney due to chronic kidney disease after partial or complete nephrectomy, your physician may advise additional changes in lifestyle such as changes in diet and taking care about over-the-counter and prescription medicines.