Discharge Instructions for Carotid Endarterectomy 

Woman reaching into upper shelf in kitchen cabinet while older woman makes salad.A carotid endarterectomy restores normal blood flow through the vessels that carry blood to your brain. These vessels are called the carotid arteries. During the surgery, a surgeon made a small incision in the side of your neck, just below your jaw. The artery was opened and the blockage was cleared. This procedure was done to reduce your risk of a stroke, which can occur when the carotid arteries are severely blocked or narrowed.

Home care

  • Spend your first few days after surgery relaxing at home. It's OK to do quiet activities such as reading or watching TV.

  • Take your medicines exactly as instructed. Don’t skip doses.

  • Don’t drive until your doctor says it’s OK. This will most likely take 1 to 2 weeks.

  • Keep the wound dry until your doctor says it's OK to shower. Don't scrub your incision.

  • Don't do strenuous activity for 7 to 10 days after your surgery.

  • Don’t lift anything heavier than 10 pounds for 2 to 3 weeks after your surgery.

  • Ask your doctor when you can expect to return to work.

  • Shave carefully around your incision. You may want to use an electric razor.

  • Gradually increase your activity. It may take some time for you to return to your normal activities.

  • Check your incision every day for signs of infection (redness, swelling, drainage, or warmth).

  • Don’t be alarmed if you have some loss of feeling along your jaw line, the incision line, and earlobe. This is a result of the incision and usually goes away after 6 to 12 months.

Long-term changes at home

  • Eat a healthy, low-fat, low cholesterol, and low calorie diet. Ask your doctor for menus and other diet information.

  • Maintain your ideal body weight.

  • After you have recovered from surgery, try to exercise more, especially walking. Ask your doctor for guidance.

  • If you smoke, ask your doctor for help quitting. 

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment, or as directed


When to call 911

A stroke is a medical emergency. Call 911 right away if you have any of these symptoms of stroke:

  • Weakness, tingling, or loss of feeling on one side of your face or body

  • Sudden double vision or trouble seeing in one or both eyes

  • Sudden trouble talking or slurred speech

  • Sudden, severe headache

F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the signs of stroke. When you see these signs, call 911 fast.

F.A.S.T. stands for:

  • F is for face drooping. One side of the face is drooping or numb. When the person smiles, the smile is uneven.

  • A is for arm weakness. One arm is weak or numb. When the person lifts both arms at the same time, one arm may drift downward.

  • S is for speech difficulty. You may notice slurred speech or trouble speaking. The person can't repeat a simple sentence correctly when asked.

  • T is for time to call 911. If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if they go away, call 911 right away. Make note of the time the symptoms first appeared.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Neck swelling

  • Redness, pain, swelling, or drainage from your incision

  • Fever above 100.4°F (38°C), or higher, or as advised