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Pain and discomfort are unavoidable and difficult side effects to manage after surgery. With days, weeks, and sometimes even months spent dealing with sensitivities and discomfort, it can quickly become unbearable. One of the keys to surgery recovery is bed rest and getting sufficient sleep for your body to heal; however, that can be nearly impossible. 

From pain management to finding a comfortable way to get the rest you need, there is one thing every post-op patient needs, a high-quality post-surgery pillow. With the right pillow for surgery recovery, you can keep pressure off incisions and tender areas, make sure you’re positioned properly to help prevent post-surgery complications and get better sleep. 

Read our guide on post-surgery pillows to learn more about the benefits, find the right support system for you, and improve your road to recovery. Interested in a single aspect of after-surgery pillows? Use the links below to find the information you’re looking for. 

What Is a Post-Surgery Pillow?

First things first, let’s explain what a post-surgery pillow is. These are specially designed pillows for surgery recovery. There are a variety of different types of after-surgery pillows; the type you would want to use would partially depend on the procedure you underwent and what part of the body is most affected. 


infographic of post surgery recovery pillow

Surgery recovery pillows may be large or small, depending on your preferences and their designed usage. Some are intended to be used for bed rest, while others are meant to be used to put pressure on an affected area or taken on the go during the later stages of recovery (when you’ll need to return to work, driving, and other responsibilities). 

Why Should You Use Post-Surgery Pillows for Recovery?

Wondering why you should use a special after-surgery pillow instead of your regular pillow? Put simply, they’re ideal for minimizing discomfort during the recovery period, and who doesn’t want that? 

Recovery pillows for sleeping are designed to make laying down for long periods of time more comfortable while providing gentle structure and support to your head, neck, and back. Post-surgery recovery pillows are meant to help with the unpleasant side effects of bed rest, including:

  • Lower back pain 
  • Straining in your neck 
  • Difficulty adjusting to side sleeping
  • Hip pain
  • Knee pressure
  • Leg swelling
  • Pain while coughing
  • Stress on joints

In some cases, depending on the type of pillow you’re using, and if it’s being used to prop up your limbs, it can also help increase blood flow and promote faster healing.


Shoulder recovery pillow reasons infographic

When Do You Need a Post-Surgery Pillow?

Recovery pillows are often recommended for patients who have undergone a surgical procedure, especially those that require longer bed rest. Some of the most common procedures that after-surgery pillows are used for include:

  • Shoulder replacement surgery
  • Rotator cuff repair
  • Spinal surgery
  • Hysterectomy 
  • Breast augmentation
  • Mastectomy
  • Appendix removal
  • Abdominal surgery
  • C-section
  • Organ transplant
  • Heart surgery
  • Chest surgery

However, regardless of what type of surgery you’ve had, a post-surgery pillow may be a good investment—especially if you need to be on bed rest for more than a day or two.  

doctors performing shoulder surgery

How to Use a Post-Surgery Pillow

In addition to the pain of your body trying to heal from surgery, laying in bed for long periods of time can cause discomfort and lead to straining throughout your body.

  • Position it to provide proper support: 

Typically, recovery pillows are designed to be used a specific way in order to provide the right amount of support. If there are instructions for how to position the pillow, using it as advertised will likely provide the greatest benefit.

Depending on the type of surgery recovery pillow you’re using, this may mean keeping it pressed up against the affected area, ensuring that a certain part of your body is elevated to prevent swelling. Proper positioning can also help you achieve a more comfortable inclined position for sleeping, while preventing you from putting pressure on certain parts of your body.

  • Use your recovery pillow as instructed:

Depending on the reason you’re using a recovery pillow for surgery, you may need to use your pillow a specific way or for a certain period of time. It’s important to heed these instructions in order to help lower your risk of complications and improve your recovery experience.

For example, after abdominal surgery, your doctor may recommend that you use a pillow for surgery recovery to put gentle pressure on the area when coughing, laughing, or experiencing discomfort from breathing. In many cases, you will need to sleep on your side for several days or weeks while recovering. A post-surgery pillow can help you remain on your side by creating the most comfortable conditions and supporting your back at the same time.

  • Keep them clean: 

After surgery, you may be much more susceptible to infection, so it is especially important to keep everything around you as clean as possible. Depending on the type of procedure you’ve undergone, and whether your pillow is in close contact with the operation site, you may need to throw it in the wash fairly frequently.

infographic on how to use shoulder recovery pillow


Our Shoulder Relief System and Reflux Relief System are both easy to clean. With a removable cover, you can wash your recovery pillow as frequently as you need to. It’s worth mentioning that these covers are also made of a breathable fabric, which helps prevent you from becoming too hot throughout the night.

Do Wedge Pillows Work for Post-Surgery Recovery?

Yes, wedge pillows are one style of pillow you can use for post-surgery recovery. Wedge pillows are a popular style of recovery pillow for a number of reasons; they can be placed under your neck and shoulders to help you lay at an incline to take pressure off your back and shoulders while keeping you on your side, which may be optimal for recovery from certain procedures. Or, they can be placed under your knees and legs to help elevate them and help reduce your risk of blood clots and cramping.

MedCline has two options for wedge pillows for surgery recovery:

If you’ve undergone shoulder surgery such as a rotator cuff repair or shoulder arthritis surgery, a shoulder recovery pillow can help make your time on bed rest much more comfortable. Our Shoulder Relief System is specially designed with an innovative arm hole to alleviate discomfort by providing support for your body weight while allowing your shoulder to rest naturally. 

medcline shoulder relief pillow components

Many people suffer from acid reflux when lying down and trying to sleep. Since you’ll likely be in bed more when recovering from surgery, this may become a problem for you. If it does, you can use our acid reflux pillow to find relief.

acid reflux relief system components

If you don’t want to be at an incline but are looking for some extra body support while recovering from surgery, our therapeutic body pillow can be purchased on its own. Body pillows can help improve circulation, alleviate pressure on knees and hips, and align your spine.

Benefits of Wedge Pillows for Surgery Recovery

Wedge pillows are ideal for allowing you to sit up in bed while eating or watching television. This is because they are able to support your upper body for long periods of time when you want to relax in an upright position or sleep at an incline. When placed under the knees, a wedge pillow can also be used to alleviate pressure and allow for proper drainage.

wedge pillow for surgery recovery infographic

MedCline isn’t your average wedge pillow; we have taken the time to perfect our design to help our customers achieve the best night’s sleep, whether they’re in the initial stages of surgery recovery or looking for a long-term, comfortable sleeping solution. Some of the advantages of using the MedCline system include:

  • Medical-grade materials
  • High-density, adjustable shredded memory foam fill in the attached body pillow (contours to your body much better than a single foam layer)
  • Seamless inner curvature to prevent neck irritation
  • Removable covers for convenient washing
  • 6” to 8” wedge height for a comfortable, gradual incline (depending on your height and system chosen)
  • Symmetrical design that can be used by right- or left-side sleepers 
  • Available through VA medical benefits
  • FSA cards can be used to purchase the system

To learn more about our pillows and the benefits of using our systems, read our MedCline FAQs

Where to Buy a Post-Surgery Pillow

There are many places you can buy an after-surgery pillow from. However, the majority of them are found online. If you’re purchasing a post-surgery recovery body pillow, you will want to have it delivered due to its large size.

woman ordering surgery recovery pillow from bed

MedCline makes it easy to order a recovery pillow for surgery online with fast shipping and convenient payment options.

Enjoy a More Comfortable Recovery with an After-Surgery Pillow

Whether you’re preparing a post-surgery survival kit for a loved one or getting your own home ready, purchasing an after-surgery pillow might be something you want to add to your shopping list. Plus, if you purchase our Shoulder Relief System, you can continue to use it after you’ve recovered for a more comfortable sleep posture and better night’s rest. 

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  1. “Laundry.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,, 17 August 2020.