Recovery time after a thoracentesis procedure depends on the reason the procedure was performed, according to Summit Medical Group. Immediately after the procedure, patients are monitored until breathing, heartrate and blood pressure are stable, and they are not allowed to drive themselves home. Chest X-rays are sometimes performed as well.
Doctors may prescribe medications after a thoracentesis procedure, and patients who still have dressings are given instructions on wound and dressing care. During recovery, the patient may be required to rest and to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery. In a thoracentesis, a needle is inserted through a patient's back into the pleural cavity between the chest wall and the lungs to remove air or fluid.