Pacemaker implantation is minimally invasive surgery. The typical recovery period is not lengthy or difficult. You may experience pain at the incision site for a few days. Your doctor may ask you to restrict vigorous activity or lifting heavy objects for a week or two. The incision site is usually completely healed after two or three weeks.
During this initial period you should watch for signs of bleeding or infection, such as swelling, increased redness or worsening pain, and let your doctor know if any of these signs occur. Fortunately, these complications are infrequent.
You will need to have your pacemaker checked periodically to see whether it is functioning normally and to make sure its battery has plenty of energy. Usually, these pacemaker checks are done by telephone every month or two (using a special device your doctor will give you for telephone follow-up), and by visits to your doctor’s office once or twice a year. When the battery begins to run out – usually after five to eight years – your doctor will schedule an elective pacemaker replacement. This is a relatively simple procedure, carried out under local anesthesia, in which your old pacemaker generator is detached from its leads and thrown away. You will get a new generator. Generally, the pacemaker leads never need to be replaced unless they develop a problem.