What To Expect After Kidney Stone Surgery: Recovery & Aftercare

Reviewed by Dr. Maya Frankfurt, PhD

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what to expect after kidney stone surgery
Aftercare for kidney stone surgery. Photo: Shutterstock

Kidney stone removal, using surgical intervention for kidney stones, is a common procedure that helps alleviate the pain and complications caused by these small, hard deposits in the kidneys.

However, the journey to full recovery does not end with the surgery itself. If you are looking to prevent kidney stones from forming in the first place you will want to read about apple cider vinegar gummies.

In this article, we will walk you through the essential steps involved in the recovery process required after kidney stone surgery. From the initial recovery room period and hospital stay to pain management, fluid intake, monitoring, and follow-up appointments, we will cover it all.

Additionally, we will provide you with practical self-care tips to ensure a smooth recovery and reduce the risk of future stone formation. Read about Goli Gummies review here! Without further ado, let’s dive in!

What To Expect After Kidney Stone Surgery?

After kidney stone surgery, the recovery involves several important steps to ensure a successful outcome. Expect to spend some time in the recovery room or post-anesthesia care unit (PACU), where your vital signs will be monitored.

Depending on the surgery type, you may need a hospital stay. Pain management and adequate fluid intake are crucial during recovery. Regular monitoring, dietary modifications, and follow-up appointments play a significant role in preventing future stone formation.

Remember to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions, stay hydrated, maintain good hygiene, and communicate any concerns. With proper self-care and medical guidance, you can navigate the recovery journey effectively and minimize the chances of kidney stone recurrence.

What Happens After Kidney Stone Surgery?

what to expect after kidney stone surgery
Talking to a doctor after surgery. Photo: Shutterstock

With regard to what to expect after kidney stone removal surgery there are several steps involved in the recovery process. Here is a general outline of what you can expect:

Recovery Room

Immediately after the surgery, you will be taken to a recovery room or PACU. Medical professionals will monitor your vital signs, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen levels, until you wake up from anesthesia.

Hospital Stay

Depending on the type of surgery and your specific circumstances, you may need to stay in the hospital for a period of time. The duration of the hospital stay varies but can range from a few hours to a few days.

Pain Management

Kidney stone surgeries cause post-operative pain. Your healthcare team will provide you with appropriate pain medications to manage any discomfort. This can include narcotic pain medication and it is  important to take the prescribed medications as directed.

Fluid Intake

Drinking plenty of fluids is crucial after kidney stone surgery. Adequate hydration helps flush out any remaining stone fragments and prevents the formation of new stones. Your doctor will advise you on the recommended fluid intake and may suggest specific types of fluids, such as water or citrus juices.


During your recovery, you may undergo various tests and imaging studies to monitor your progress. These may include blood tests, urine tests, and follow-up imaging (such as X-rays or ultrasound) to assess the condition of your kidneys and check for any residual stones.

Diet & Lifestyle Modifications

Your healthcare provider may recommend dietary and lifestyle changes to prevent the recurrence of kidney stones. This includes reducing sodium intake,[1] increasing fluid intake,[2] and adjusting your diet to minimize the consumption of foods that are known to contribute to stone formation, such as spinach, rhubarb, and chocolate.

Follow-Up Appointment

You will typically have a follow-up appointment with your doctor to review the results of any tests and discuss your progress. During this visit, you can address any concerns or ask questions about your recovery and long-term kidney stone prevention strategies.

Tips For Self-Care Post-Surgery

After kidney stone removal surgery you should follow these tips for self-care:

  • Follow medication instructions: Take any prescribed medications[3] as directed by your healthcare provider. This may include pain medications, antibiotics (if prescribed), or medications to help prevent stone formation.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to stay hydrated. Aim to drink enough to produce clear or light yellow urine. Proper hydration helps flush out the urinary system and prevents the formation of new stones.
  • Follow a balanced diet: Adopt a healthy, balanced diet that is low in sodium and includes a variety of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Avoid excessive consumption of foods known to contribute to stone formation, such as high oxalate foods (spinach, rhubarb, chocolate), excessive sodium (processed foods, canned soups), and sugary beverages.
  • Manage pain and discomfort: If you experience pain or discomfort, use the prescribed pain medications as directed. Applying a heating pad or warm compress to the surgical area may also help alleviate discomfort.
  • Take it easy: Give yourself time to rest and recover. Avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting for the period advised by your doctor. Gradually ease back into your regular routine as you begin to feel more comfortable.
  • Maintain good hygiene: Keep the surgical site clean and dry. Follow any specific instructions provided by your healthcare provider regarding wound care or dressing changes.
  • Monitor urine and symptoms: Pay attention to your urine color, frequency, and any changes in symptoms. Contact your doctor if you notice blood in your urine, severe pain, fever, or any other concerning symptoms.
  • Attend follow-up appointments: Make sure to attend your scheduled follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider. These visits are important for monitoring your progress, discussing any concerns, and receiving further guidance on stone prevention.
  • Emotional support: Recovery from surgery can be both physically and emotionally challenging. Reach out to friends, family, or support groups for emotional support and encouragement throughout the recovery process.
  • Communicate with your healthcare provider: If you have any questions, concerns, or experience any complications, do not hesitate to contact your healthcare provider. They are there to assist you and provide guidance.

Remember, these are general guidelines, and it is important to follow the specific instructions and advice provided by your healthcare team for your individual case. After kidney stone surgery what to expect can vary slightly. Sometimes medications can be used for kidney stones in place of surgery.

Risks Post-Surgery To Be Aware Of

Risks Of Shock Wave Lithotripsy (SWL)

Shock Wave Lithotripsy (SWL)[4] is a common procedure that breaks down kidney stones into smaller fragments using focused shock waves. While generally safe and effective, SWL carries certain risks. These include discomfort during the procedure, bruising or minor bleeding around the treatment site, and temporary blood in the urine. In rare cases, SWL may cause damage to the surrounding tissues or organs, leading to infection, injury to the kidney, or blockage of the urinary tract. 

Additionally, some patients may have stone fragments not completely passing, requiring further intervention. It is important to discuss the potential risks and benefits of SWL with a healthcare professional before undergoing the procedure.

Risks Of Ureteroscopy & Laser Lithotripsy

Ureteroscopy[5] and laser lithotripsy are procedures commonly used to remove or break down kidney or ureteral stones. While generally considered safe and effective, there are some risks associated with these procedures. Possible complications include urinary tract infection, bleeding, injury to the ureter or surrounding tissues, and formation of scar tissue. In rare cases, ureteral perforation or damage to the kidney can occur. 

Additionally, there is a small risk of stone fragments not completely passing through the urinary tract or reformation of stones in the future.

Risks Of Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL)

Percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL)[6] is a surgical procedure used to remove large or complex kidney stones. While PCNL is generally safe and effective, there are inherent risks associated with the procedure. These risks include bleeding, infection, damage to surrounding organs or tissues, and potential for injury to the kidney or urinary tract.

Additionally, there is a risk of complications related to anesthesia, such as adverse reactions or respiratory problems. Rarely, patients may experience persistent pain, urine leakage, or the need for additional procedures.


After kidney stone surgery, the recovery process involves several steps including monitoring in the recovery room, a possible hospital stay, pain management, fluid intake, monitoring of progress through tests and imaging, dietary and lifestyle modifications, and follow-up appointments. 

Self-care post-surgery is essential and includes following medication instructions, staying hydrated, maintaining a balanced diet, managing pain and discomfort, taking it easy during recovery, practicing good hygiene, monitoring urine and symptoms, attending follow-up appointments, seeking emotional support, and maintaining open communication with healthcare providers. 

It is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with different surgical procedures such as Shock Wave Lithotripsy (SWL), Ureteroscopy and Laser Lithotripsy, and Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL), and to discuss these risks with healthcare professionals before undergoing the procedures.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are common medical procedures used to treat kidney stones?

Shock Wave Lithotripsy (SWL), Ureteroscopy and Laser Lithotripsy, and Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy (PCNL).

What kind of diet is important post-surgery for kidney stones?

Avoid excessive consumption of foods known to contribute to stone formation, such as high oxalate foods (spinach, rhubarb, chocolate), excessive sodium (processed foods, canned soups), and sugary beverages.

Will you need to stay in the hospital after kidney stone surgery?

Depending on the surgery type, you may need a hospital stay.

After kidney stone surgery what to expect?

he recovery process involves several steps including monitoring in the recovery room, a possible hospital stay, pain management, fluid intake, monitoring of progress through tests and imaging, dietary and lifestyle modifications, and follow-up appointments.

+ 6 sources

MIDSS adheres to strict procurement guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutes, and medical associations. We work mainly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure the accuracy of the information. We avoid the use of tertiary references. You can read about how we ensure the accuracy and timeliness of our content in our editorial process.

  1. Parmar, M.S. (2004). Kidney stones. BMJ, [online] 328(7453), pp.1420–1424. doi:https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.328.7453.1420.
  2. Ziemba, J. and Matlaga, B.R. (2015). Guideline of guidelines: kidney stones. BJUI, [online] 116(2), pp.184–189. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/bju.13080.
  3. DeMasi, M., Segall, M., Mengotto, A., Cuartas, P.A., Feiertag, N., Loloi, J., Ahn, J., Kim, M., Laudano, M., Stern, J.O. and Watts, K. (2022). Optimizing pain management following kidney stone surgery: can we avoid narcotics? World Journal of Urology, [online] 40(12), pp.3061–3066. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00345-022-04214-w.
  4. Reynolds, L., Tadeusz Kroczak and Pace, K.T. (2018). Indications and contraindications for shock wave lithotripsy and how to improve outcomes. Asian Journal of Urology, [online] 5(4), pp.256–263. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajur.2018.08.006.
  5. Chugh, S., Pietropaolo, A., Montanari, E., Kemal Sarica and Somani, B.K. (2020). Predictors of Urinary Infections and Urosepsis After Ureteroscopy for Stone Disease: a Systematic Review from EAU Section of Urolithiasis (EULIS). Current Urology Reports, [online] 21(4). doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11934-020-0969-2.
  6. Taylor, E.R., Miller, J., Chi, T. and Stoller, M.L. (2012). Complications associated with percutaneous nephrolithotomy. PubMed, [online] 1(4), pp.223–8. doi:https://doi.org/10.3978/j.issn.2223-4683.2012.12.01.


Dr. Stephanie Nichols is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor in Arizona. She’s passionate about helping women resolve their anxiety, depression, and chronic stress by restoring balance to their hormones, and digestive functioning. She also approaches autoimmune conditions from a whole-person standpoint and uncovers the deeper issues through advanced laboratory testing. Dr. Stephanie assesses her patients from a Naturopathic as well as a Traditional Chinese Medicine viewpoint. Her treatment plans are unique in that they are completely customized to suit each patient on a mental, emotional, and physical level. Dr. Stephanie earned her bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Sciences, with honors, from the University of Alberta. After recognizing the ability of food choices to impact several chronic diseases, she then pursued her Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, graduating with honors.She is a consultant and nutraceutical formulator for a number of companies as well as a freelance medical blog writer.


Dr. Maya Frankfurt received her Ph.D. in neuroscience and has been teaching and doing research for over 30 years. She has taught neuroscience and physiology to medical students and allied health students. Her research interests are primarily related to understanding how the brain responds to alterations in hormones, drugs, and aging. Of particular importance is the understanding of the mechanisms involved in short- and long-term memory. Although these studies are done in animals the goal is to understand the mechanisms underlying learning and memory in humans and to provide potential directions for therapy in patients with dementia. Related to this, is the attempt to understand potential sex differences and the effects of estrogen in learning and memory because women have a greater incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease than do men. The initial hormone studies led to an interest on the effects of Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in plastics that has been shown to disrupt endocrine function, on both memory and brain structure. This research has been published in over 80 papers in peer referred journals.

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