Postsurgical Deep Breathing

Deep breathing helps keep your lungs clear. If you’ve had surgery, it will help you get better faster. It may also prevent a lung infection. If you have lung problems, it will help you breathe easier. Follow the steps below.

Man holding pillow against his incision

Man breathing deeply through his nose

Man breathing out slowly through his mouth


  • Sit on the edge of a bed or a chair. Or lie on your back with your knees slightly bent.

  • Hold a pillow or rolled-up towel firmly against your incision with both hands.

  • Breathe out normally.


  • Breathe in deeply through your nose.

  • You should feel your stomach push out as you breathe in.


  • Pucker your lips as if you were going to blow out a candle.

  • Breathe out slowly through your mouth. You should feel your chest go down as you breathe out.

  • Rest for a few seconds. Then repeat as many times as directed by your health care provider.

  • You may be given a device called an incentive spirometer to help you with the exercise while in the hospital.