Preparing For Recovery At Home Following Chiari Malformation Decompression

If you've been diagnosed with Chiari malformation and your surgeon has discussed with you that it is time to have surgery, you may feel both overwhelmed and relieved, particularly if it's been determined that the surgeon will need to cut through the dura. Chiari malformation decompression surgery with duraplasty is an invasive surgery that can take several hours and weeks if not months of recovery.

Your surgeon will ask you to do a few things to prepare, such as do various presurgical tests and stop certain medications prior to surgery. Additionally, you'll need to be prepared for the recovery at home. Here are a few things to buy before your Chiari malformation decompression.


As you know, you'll have a scar on the back of your head. The scar will be roughly 3-5 inches long and start at the middle of your neck and go up, so you'll want to avoid wearing clothing that you have to pull over your head as well as clothing with collars. Button-up shirts are ideal for recovery from Chiari decompression, particularly in the first week or so following surgery when the scar is more tender.

Wound Dressings

You'll need to change your bandages according to your surgeon's recommendations, so it's a good idea to purchase a stock of wound dressings ahead of time. Your surgeon will give you a list of various dressings to have on hand, such as large gauze pads and non-stick first aid tape. Also, buy a pack of biohazard plastic bags to put your used bandages in should you have fluid leakage.


Your surgeon will tell you when you'll be able to wash your hair. Unless instructed otherwise, it's a good idea to use a mild shampoo, such as a gentle baby shampoo, until your scar is completely healed. However, check with your surgeon to see if they recommend an antiseptic shampoo instead. 

High Fiber Foods

You will be prescribed narcotics to take for pain relief after surgery. Narcotics have a tendency to cause constipation so stock up on foods that are high in fiber so you can get the fiber intake your body will need when taking narcotics. Oats, almonds, popcorn, and dark chocolate are a few examples of foods that are high in fiber.

During your pre-op visit, your neurological surgeon can discuss these and other items to have ready at home to help you recover from Chiari malformation decompression. Contact a clinic with neurological surgery services for more information.