Before the operation
A few weeks before your operation you will have tests at the hospital to make sure you are fit enough for surgery.
Doing pelvic floor muscle exercises for a few weeks before your operation may help you recover more quickly from urinary problems caused by surgery.
If you take drugs to thin the blood such as warfarin or clopidrogel, you may need to stop taking them a week before your operation to reduce the risk of bleeding.
The operation will take two to four hours. You’ll have a general anaesthetic so you will be asleep during the operation and won't feel anything.
There are two bundles of nerves attached to the prostate which control erections. These nerves can be damaged during the operation and cause problems with getting an erection. Your surgeon will try to save them. This is called nerve-sparing surgery. But if the cancer has spread too close to the nerves, your surgeon may need to remove one or both bundles of nerves.
These nerves only control erections. They don’t control feeling in the penis or the surrounding area. Even if the nerves are damaged or removed, you won’t lose any feeling and may still be able to have orgasms.
After the operation
When you wake up from the operation, you may be given fluids to drink. Let your doctor or nurse know if you feel any pain or feel sick – they can give you medicine to help with this.
You’ll have a thin tube (called a catheter) passed through your penis into the bladder to drain urine out of your body. Most men go home with the catheter. You nurse will show you how to look after your catheter.
You’ll also have a thin tube in your stomach area to drain fluid from the wound. This is usually removed 24 to 48 hours after the operation.
You will be given pain-relieving drugs after the operation. These should control any pain you have, but tell your doctor or nurse if you are in any pain.
The drugs are usually given into a vein in your arm or hand (intravenous). You may have a pump so that you can top up your pain relief yourself if you need to.
After keyhole surgery, you may have some pain in your shoulders for a few days. Carbon dioxide gas is pumped into your stomach area during the operation. This can irritate the nerves and cause the pain. Your stomach may also feel bloated and this can cause some cramping and tightness.
You may have some bruising and swelling around your testicles and penis. This can take several weeks to clear, but if you have a lot of swelling, tell your doctor. You may find wearing underpants more comfortable than boxer shorts during this time as they offer better support.
Eating and drinking
You will normally be allowed to eat and drink as soon as you feel able to after the operation.
Getting out of bed
You will be encouraged to get out of bed and start moving around as soon as you can. This reduces your risk of having a blood clot.
You may need to take daily injections for up to a month after surgery to reduce the risk of blood clots. If you need injections, your nurse will teach you how to inject yourself before you go home.
You will go home one to seven days after your operation, depending on your recovery and your doctor’s advice.