Nobody really plans on having their appendix removed, but every year, thousands of people develop appendicitis, an infection of the appendix, and removing the organ really is the best solution. Since you probably won't be in a state to do research and read a lot about the procedure if you are writhing with the pain of appendicitis in a hospital, it is a good idea to do that research how—just in case. Here is a general overview of what to expect if you ever need to have your appendix removed.
1. The procedure is often performed by a general surgeon.
Appendix removal is quite a common procedure, and it's not an overly complex one. Most general surgeons will perform appendix removal, which means the hospital should be able to schedule your surgery promptly rather than having to wait for a specialist. If you go to the ER and are diagnosed with appendicitis, you can expect to be in surgery within hours.
2. Appendix removal is usually done laparoscopically.
Appendectomies are usually performed laparoscopically, which means your surgeon will make a couple of small incisions that are less than an inch long, and then insert surgical tools and a camera through those incisions. The appendix will be removed through one of those incisions.
In rare cases, the appendix may need to be removed via open surgery. This means a larger incision will be made across the right side of your abdomen. If your appendix is very inflamed and your surgeon feels they won't be able to fit it out through a smaller incision, the open approach will be used.
3. You'll go home soon after the procedure.
Your surgeon will probably keep you in the hospital overnight or for a day so they can make sure you don't have any serious complications. Then, you'll be sent home to finish recovering.
4. Full recovery takes about a month.
You'll need to stay mostly inactive and really rest for two or three days. Then, you can start doing very light activity. These first few days, you will want to take pain relievers to keep yourself comfortable and stick to soft foods to ward off constipation. You'll need to avoid intense physical activity like running and weight lifting for about a month, but after that, you can expect to be pretty much back to normal.
If you have any lingering questions about appendix removal, ask your doctor or general surgeon. It's helpful to know what to expect.