Whipple procedure: What is the recovery like?

Posted by salledell @salledell, Sep 9, 2019

Has anyone had the Whipple procedure, and how long did it take to start eating fairly normally again? And how long did it take to regain enough strength to resume fairly normal activities like some gardening, driving, and shopping?

Hello @salledell

We have had many members on Connect post about the Whipple procedure. The most recent member is @susan2018, whose husband had the Whipple procedure recently. Also, @marvinjsturing, who has had the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and had a Whipple many years ago.

You might also find some helpful posts in the following Connect discussions. Just click on these links,
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/pancreatic-cancer-arising-from-ipmn-pancreatic-cyst/
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/whipple-procedure-and-follow-up-chemo/
Here is some general information from Mayo Clinic's website,
https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/living-with-cancer-whipple-procedure-for-pancreatic-cancer/
I'm sure that each person's recovery is somewhat different. If you are comfortable sharing more, is the Whipple procedure something that you have had (or will be experiencing) or are you asking for a friend and/or relative?

REPLY

@salledell My Whipple was more than 5 years ago. I don't remember a lot about my recovery. I don't remember having a lot of problems with eating – just started with small frequent meals. I'm sure it was a few weeks before I could drive. As for physical activity such as gardening, I did what ever I could – I just quit when I got tired. I know for the first year or so I rested a lot. I know when I went to Wal-Mart, Menards and Sam's I used their electric carts to get through the store.

REPLY

My husband’s Whipple was two weeks ago. He got out of the hospital on Day 8 and was doing well. Since home he’s experience delayed gastric emptying which makes eating difficult. He went back to a liquid diet and is taking meds for the issue. He is extremely weak but walking around the house and short walks outside. Hard to regain strength after major surgery when eating is difficult.

REPLY

Hi @susan2018,

While I've not had a Whipple, I have had 3 surgeries of the upper digestive tract to remove carcinoid tumors in the duodenal bulb. The delayed gastric emptying is something that I still deal with. Small meals on a regular basis (I quit eating before I feel full) and switching to a liquid diet on occasion are all part of my routine. My surgeries were in 2003, 2005 and 2016.

I agree that gaining strength after surgery and not eating as you are used to, does create difficulties. You do not mention your husband's age, but that does make a difference as well. I had a more difficult time after my 2005 surgery than I did with the first one in 2003. As we grow older, it seems harder to heal.

Did your husband go into this surgery with other health problems? I'm thinking of diabetes, heart problems, etc.

REPLY
@susan2018

My husband’s Whipple was two weeks ago. He got out of the hospital on Day 8 and was doing well. Since home he’s experience delayed gastric emptying which makes eating difficult. He went back to a liquid diet and is taking meds for the issue. He is extremely weak but walking around the house and short walks outside. Hard to regain strength after major surgery when eating is difficult.

Jump to this post

@susan2018 Sounds like it’s going well so far! My neighbor made sure he went slowly and, just this week, was out doing yard work! What are you doing to take care of yourself?

REPLY

Thank you Becky for asking after me. This surgery and diagnosis is life changing for sure. I’m the kind of person who has always been grateful for little things. Now life is reduced to little things. A decent night’s sleep. My husband being able to eat without throwing up. A quick response to a call to the doctor. A stable afternoon when I don’t need to be thinking, when I don’t need to be solving a problem

REPLY

Hi Dear All

Does anyone had chemotherapy before whipple ? we found out today that my Dad has a tumor 2,7 cm in pancreas but They told us he is not suitable for a surgery right now because of one blood vessel that is so close to the tumor …and I am worried if that is normal. Do you know if you could take a second written opinion from a doctor in Mayo clinic since we live in Europe … I mean if there is any procedure that I could sent my dad's exams.

Thank you in advance

REPLY
@nasagia36

Hi Dear All

Does anyone had chemotherapy before whipple ? we found out today that my Dad has a tumor 2,7 cm in pancreas but They told us he is not suitable for a surgery right now because of one blood vessel that is so close to the tumor …and I am worried if that is normal. Do you know if you could take a second written opinion from a doctor in Mayo clinic since we live in Europe … I mean if there is any procedure that I could sent my dad's exams.

Thank you in advance

Jump to this post

@nasagia36 Google Dr Mark Truty, Mayo Clinic Rochester MN USA. He is known for his surgery for pancreatic tumors that involves vessels. Often part of his care of a patient is to shrink such a tumor with treatment before surgery. Of course, I am just a layperson, but there is a nice video online of him speaking of such treatment. He is my husband’s surgeon.

REPLY
@nasagia36

Hi Dear All

Does anyone had chemotherapy before whipple ? we found out today that my Dad has a tumor 2,7 cm in pancreas but They told us he is not suitable for a surgery right now because of one blood vessel that is so close to the tumor …and I am worried if that is normal. Do you know if you could take a second written opinion from a doctor in Mayo clinic since we live in Europe … I mean if there is any procedure that I could sent my dad's exams.

Thank you in advance

Jump to this post

@nasagia36 Hello and welcome to MayoClinicConnect. I’m so sorry your dad has a tumor on the pancreas. You also mentioned a blood vessel close to the tumor so the doctors don’t want to do surgery right away. Chemotherapy has been suggested before surgery with the hope of shrinking the tumor so it’s not so close to the vessels. When will your dad start chemotherapy? Please stay in touch

REPLY
@susan2018

@nasagia36 Google Dr Mark Truty, Mayo Clinic Rochester MN USA. He is known for his surgery for pancreatic tumors that involves vessels. Often part of his care of a patient is to shrink such a tumor with treatment before surgery. Of course, I am just a layperson, but there is a nice video online of him speaking of such treatment. He is my husband’s surgeon.

Jump to this post

@susan2018 many thanks for your reply . I google him and I will contact him to find how I can send him the exams.

REPLY
@becsbuddy

@nasagia36 Hello and welcome to MayoClinicConnect. I’m so sorry your dad has a tumor on the pancreas. You also mentioned a blood vessel close to the tumor so the doctors don’t want to do surgery right away. Chemotherapy has been suggested before surgery with the hope of shrinking the tumor so it’s not so close to the vessels. When will your dad start chemotherapy? Please stay in touch

Jump to this post

Thank you Becky. This is the idea to shrink the tumor, he will start chemotherapy in 10 days because they need other exams to complete his file. But it can be increased … I am just thinking loud.

REPLY
@nasagia36

@susan2018 many thanks for your reply . I google him and I will contact him to find how I can send him the exams.

Jump to this post

@nasagia36, having chemo before surgery is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy, and is becoming a good option for many pancreatic cancer patients. As per @susan2018's suggestion, here is a short video about Dr. Mark Truty, a cancer surgeon at Mayo Clinic, a leading research in pancreatic cancer.

If you're interested in seeking consultation at/with Mayo Clinic, please see this page about International Services: https://www.mayoclinic.org/departments-centers/international

Keep asking questions.

REPLY
Please sign in or register to post a reply.