Minimally invasive spinal fusion surgery — what to expect after surgery

If you have scheduled a minimally invasive spinal fusion for your lower back (Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion), you are likely researching what to expect during your recovery process.

During your Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion procedure, our surgeons will use our advanced surgical techniques to remove the damaged disc between your vertebrae and immediately stabilize the spine with an implant without disrupting the surrounding muscles, tissues or blood vessels. Our minimally invasive approach to spinal fusion means that there is less risk of complications because each surgery is performed in an Ambulatory Surgical Center and a shorter recovery time^ than traditional spinal fusion.

As you read through what to expect following your minimally invasive spinal fusion, we encourage you to contact us with any questions. Our care team is here to help make sure you heal properly and efficiently after your surgery.

What to expect following your Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion surgery

Please follow these guidelines when recovering from your spinal fusion. If you have any questions or concerns during your recovery period, please call our SPINE LINE for assistance.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, 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, usually accompanied by nausea and vomiting, call your SPINE LINE.


  • When taking your pain medication and/or muscle relaxers, DO NOT drive
  • You should take your antibiotics according to your doctor’s orders
  • Pain medication and muscle relaxers should be taken two hours apart
  • 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 the website 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 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 on your surgical dressing 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 with your local 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.