How do you get your appetite back after surgery?

Mum has been discharged from hospital following surgery one week ago. We are still waiting on the results as to whether or not the cyst was malignant.. Mum is a young 72 and is normally full of life and very active. The past number of weeks have really knocked her. I am trying to help her as much as I can and i was wondering if any of you experienced complete loss of apptite following surgery and what you did to help your appetite return?



12 Replies

  • Hi Geralyn

    I am still struggling with loss of appetite after surgery, at first could not even manage a small slice of bread. The advice I was given was to eat tiny bits at a time and then slowly build it up, and not to force myself. Three weeks after surgery I am managing 3 meals a day, though not in usual quantities. Can't say I enjoy them yet, but hopefully will get there. A nurse gave me the tip that a square of dark chocolate can be quite palatable, and can make other things taste a bit better too. Good luck to your Mum.

    All the best, Monique

  • Hi Monique

    Thanks for taking the time to reply. I certainly will give the dark choc a go. Her

    spirit is good at the moment and she is relieved to have the surgery over with.

    Wishing you well with your recovery.

    Thanks again


  • Hi Geralyn, I understand what you must be going through! How is your Mum doing now, 5 months later?

    My Mum is 72 and had surgery recently to remove cancer in her upper jaw (a maxillectomy). It is a major surgery which is very uncomfortable in her mouth and leads to difficulty eating, swallowing and speaking. She developed pneumonia in hospital, which led to a 2-week stay. She was discharged 6 days ago and I have never seen her more tired and discouraged in my whole life. She is on a special diet prescribed by the dietician, but has absolutely no appetite! I have tried everything to help her to eat and she is trying so hard, but the amount she is taking in seems to be so tiny to me and I am so worried she is going to wither away. She is so very sad. She has a long road ahead, including 2 more surgeries. I am all she has, as her only brother died a few years ago, as did my Dad. I have no brothers or sisters and don't know how I can manage to help her more. My husband and I are expecting our first baby in January and I am trying to stay calm for our little girl, but the stress and anxiety, and fatigue are constant. I am staying strong for my Mum and staying cheerful and optimistic, encouraging her all the time, but when I'm home in the evenings all the emotion of the day catches up and my poor husband has to deal with my tears. He has been such a strength to me. Sometimes I cannot believe that this is all really happening. I hate to see her suffering like this.

    I do hope that your Mum is doing well at this stage and that you are too.

    Thinking of you!

  • Hi there Geralyn

    So sorry that you are both going through this, waiting for news is awful.

    I was 48 when I had my first operation and honestly one week on my appetite was virtually zero. After the physical shock of an opeartion plus all of the drugs plus the concern about the future our digestive systems go into shock and it takes a while.

    It did come back, but over weeks rather than days.

    It will come back nut slowly , as Monique says. Your Mum is a fortunate lady to have so much love and support from you.

    I hope that the pathology report will bring you reassurig news.


    Charlie xxx

  • Hi Charlie

    All in the family bare doing our best to support mum at the present. She worked hard all her life for us so that bit is only right and proper that we are here for her in her time of need. I find this site so supportive and helpful. It has given me lots of information which I will need if the results are bad. In the meantime I am trying to stay positive and keep mum focussed on all that is good about life.

    Take Care


  • I found that mint tea was refreshing and soothing, sipped after eating, it made me feel better. Also ginger ale (I had Canada dry) is also good for soothing the stomach, or even a bit of root ginger in a glass of hot water if you prefer a more natural approach. These things may stimulate your Mum's appetite. Otherwise, it's just little and often and whatever she fancies, was the approach I found best. I wanted salty things (crisps and little ham sandwiches) and very sweet things (biscuits) to snack on at first. I guess it was my body trying to get back in synch. All the best to you and your Mum

    Wendy xx

  • Hi Wendy

    Little and often is good advice as anything large just puts her off before she has even tried it. Watching and acknowledging that both my parents are growing old and challenges to their health is to be expected is difficult to come to terms with. I want to find that magic wand and make it all better but know that I can't. In the meantime I will continue on my journey with her.

    Thanks for your support


  • You are so right, Geralyn! .....about making things better for your parents. I have recently been caring for my Mum and Dad, following Mum having a spinal op, my Dad has age-related dementia (memory problems, so he cannot live alone) I keep feeling guilty that I cannot push a magic button and reverse stuff that is not right. I can't. of course, and I can't make things completely right for them. All we can do is love them, support them and be patient when they seem to be flagging! You are doing a great job already and things should get better for your Mum ... mine is progressing, but it is very SLOW progress least we're heading in the right direction. By the way, Margaret's suggestions are excellent! Good one, Margaret! ;-)

    Love Wendy xx

  • Hi Geralyn!

    It takes time! I have just got my apetite and taste buds back after my last surgery which was Dec 5th!

    Chemo also affects the apetite and taste buds.

    I am the same age as your mother! At its worst I was advised to concentrate on calorie dense foods to maintain metabolism like small cubes of cheese, midget gems, chocolate and, best of all, fresh pineapple. The enzymes in pineapple are particularly beneficial. I still eat a whole pineapple every week. Small meals and often is the secret but only a week after surgery I could not manage more than 1/4 of a round of smoked salmon sandwich made with bread from a small loaf. I also found small quanyities of lime juice in fizzy water acceptable. Drinking fluids is very important so I get through about 2litres of fizzy water a day, though at first it was plain tapwater!

    Try small quantities of scrambled egg with smoked salmon. A little grilled salmon with a new potato and a few beans. Digestive biscuits and ginger and lemon tea are also good. Don't say "what would you like to eat" just produce something small and flavoursome and don't be offended if she cannot eat it all.

    My GP tells me it takes over a year to recover from major abdominal surgery! I do not know if it will reassure you but I am back cycling a minimum of 4 miles a day, going to parties, the theatre, cinema and concerts. If your mum was lively as you say I am sure she will be back to her old self in time but it does take time. Like her I have the support of a lovely daughter but she lives in London and has her own life, as I have mine here in York.

    Above all do not worry too much it is early days yet, if the cyst was malignant your mum will probably have chemo and that will affect appetite, taste buds and energy levels. Her specialist nurse, the ovacome support line and Macmillan will all provide advice and support and Target Ovarian Cancer has some excellent information leaflets on dealing and living with the condition.

    Cancer is a disease! We do not become it and it is not necessarily an immediate death sentence but more of a chronic disease that we learn to live with and manage.

    Keep up the good work andlove to your Mum!


  • Hi Margaret

    You are an inspiration and you have certainly given me hope for the future if the results are bad. You look stunning in your picture by the way. Before I joined this site I certainly had a very negative view of OC as unfortunately I have lost two work collleagues to the disease in the past few years. All I ever heard was that OC is a silent killer etc... However after reading all the blogs from you and the other fantastic women on this site I realise that there is life beyond the diagnosis and that medical treatments are advancing every day. I will continue to be there for my mum as long as she needs me and do all I can to support her.

    Best Wishes to You and your family


  • Thank ou o te compliment Gerlalyn but it isn't really deserved! It is sad that you lot colleagues to OC but we are all different and, from my point of view, staying positive has been the most important thing all along the line. That way I keep the fear at bay and enjoy every moment to the full. It has been important to be treated as a normal living breathing human being rather than a dying, walking corpse!

    Think how much worse it would be for your mum if she had been told she had Parkinson's or Alzheimers, and for you too! That is how I handle it!



  • Gerlalyn,

    I had urogynecological surgery on June 11th, exactly two weeks ago, and have yet to have an appetite even though I stopped taking medicine, with the exception of an antibiotic needed for an infection, a few days after the surgery, However, that does not stop me from eating because I know I'd be worse off if I did not eat.


    You look wonderful, and I totally agree with you that a loss of memory is far worse than physical conditions.


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