About 10 percent of patients who have Whipple surgery develop an abdominal infection caused by a leaking pancreas, and this may happen any time after surgery, as noted by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. In most cases, the stomach requires seven to 10 days of recovery after surgery.
Other possible complications of Whipple surgery include surgical site infection, delayed gastric emptying, bleeding and a leaking bile duct. Overall, the risk of experiencing complications from the Whipple procedure are 30 to 40 percent, according to MUSC Health Digestive Disease Center. Factors that contribute to surgical complications include patient health and severity of pancreatic disease. The normal post-surgery recovery time is two weeks for this complex procedure, and during this time, patients are carefully monitored for any signs of complications.
After Whipple surgery, patients must cope with a nasal tube inserted in the stomach, which removes saliva and other stomach contents, and a catheter inside the bladder for removal of urine, as stated by MUSC Health Digestive Disease Center. Patients are encouraged to go for short walks each day to build strength, and eating is restricted for several days to allow the digestive system to heal. Home recovery includes drinking plenty of fluids, eating small meals and limited physical activity.