Minimally invasive spinal fusion surgery — what to expect after surgery

If you have scheduled or are considering a minimally invasive spinal fusion for your lower back, such as Laser Spine Institute’s transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion, you are likely researching what to expect during your recovery process.

During your procedure, our surgeons will use muscle-sparing techniques to remove the damaged spinal disc and stabilize the spine with bone graft material. Our minimally invasive approach to spinal fusion means that these procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis at our state-of-the-art surgery centers across the United States.

As you read through what to expect following your minimally invasive spinal fusion, we encourage you to contact us with any questions.

What to expect following your spinal fusion surgery

Please follow the guidelines given to you by your surgical team when recovering from your minimally invasive spinal fusion. If you have any questions or concerns during your recovery period, please call our SPINE LINE for assistance.

Although rare, it is important to be aware of any symptoms that constitute a medical emergency. If you experience any of the following, call 911 immediately:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pains
  • Loss of sensation or ability to move your extremities
  • Airway constriction
  • Loss of bowel or bladder function

Note: If you have a severe headache that is worse sitting up than lying down and is usually accompanied by nausea and vomiting, call your SPINE LINE.


  • When taking your prescribed pain medication and/or muscle relaxers, DO NOT drive
  • You should take prescribed antibiotics according to your doctor’s orders
  • Pain medication and muscle relaxers should be taken two hours apart if you are taking both
  • If taking pain medication, DO NOT consume alcohol
  • A side effect of pain medication is constipation. Be sure to increase your water consumption and eat more vegetables. You should not go more than 48 hours without a bowel movement.

Body Mechanics

  • AVOID bending
  • Do not remain in the same position for longer than 20 minutes. Be sure to move often.
  • Visit our spine exercises site and participate in the daily exercise
  • Do not bend while at the sink or counter. Stand one leg on a small footstool to keep your back and neck in proper alignment.
  • Refer to your Postoperative Recovery Guide for information about weight lifting restrictions
  • Refrain from driving for the first two weeks of your recovery period


  • AVOID getting any water on your dressing. After your postoperative appointment, you may shower with caution. After the first two weeks or after your incision is fully healed, you may swim or soak.
  • Leave your surgical dressing on until otherwise instructed
  • DO NOT pull on any suture material sticking out of your incision
  • DO NOT remove the Steri-Strip until you are at your two week postoperative appointment. The Steri-Strips may fall off on their own before your appointment
  • Place white tape over the gauze and press firmly to reinforce dressing
  • Schedule your two week postoperative appointment at the nearest Laser Spine Institute clinic or your primary care provider. If you have any questions during your recovery period, please contact our SPINE LINE for assistance.

Potential patients

If you are a potential patient who is researching surgical options after exhausting conservative treatments, reach out to our dedicated team to learn more about our procedures, treatment options and expert medical staff.

We’re happy to provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.