Recovery time for an open discectomy is between six and eight weeks for individuals who have jobs that require heavy lifting or operating machinery, according to the North American Spine Society. Those who have less physically demanding jobs can return to work within two and four weeks or less.
General anesthesia is used in a discectomy, states About.com. The procedure usually takes around an hour, but factors such as the degree of herniation and the size of the patient can affect this figure. When patients awaken from surgery, they often notice immediate improvement in their symptoms. Mild physical activity, such as walking, is encouraged post surgery to prevent the formation of scar tissue at the operative site, affirms the North American Spine Society.