What to Expect from Revision Spine Surgery

Dr. Constantine Toumbis

05 October 2020

The decision to undergo spinal surgery is not an easy one. If you had a previous spine surgery that left you with ongoing pain or mobility issues, you may be exploring your options for another surgical procedure that offers relief. Here, we weigh the pros and cons of revision spine surgery and help you understand what to expect before, during and after the procedure.

What is Revision Spine Surgery?

Revision spine surgery, or revision spinal surgery, refers to a surgical procedure necessary to correct or adjust the results of a previous one. With a body part as complex as the spine, it’s not uncommon for a surgical procedure to correct some, but not all, of the underlying pathologies. In fact, research shows that continued low back pain after at least one spine surgery occurs in as many as 40% of patients.

If pain persists in your neck or back to the point that it impacts your quality of life, the best course of treatment may be revision spine surgery. This procedure aims to correct what may have been done either incorrectly or inadequately in the initial surgery. It can also address areas of the spine that were misdiagnosed and not the original focus during that first surgery or those that have worsened with time. In any case, the goal of revision spine surgery is to help the patient find relief and return to the types of activities they’ve been missing.

What Issues Can Revision Spine Surgery Address?

One of the most common goals of revision spine surgery is to remove scar tissue that has formed at or near the surgical site. A build-up of scar tissue can cause spinal nerves to become impinged or pinched, resulting in sharp pain in the neck, back or down the leg.

It’s also possible for herniated discs that were once repaired to suffer another herniation, a condition that occurs when a disc’s jelly-like material extrudes through the outer disc material. Other issues that revision spine surgery may be able to address include surgical errors, hardware failure and infection.

Who is a Good Candidate for Surgery?

It’s smart to exhaust all non-surgical treatment methods before undergoing revision spine surgery. However, in cases where it’s clear that more conservative methods cannot provide the relief you want, revision spine surgery may be a good option. A good candidate is one with a clear diagnosis from an experienced spinal surgeon

Any surgery on the spine, even minimally invasive, is considered high-risk enough to put a strain on the heart. If you suffer from any cardiovascular conditions, you should talk with your cardiologist or general practitioner to confirm whether you are healthy enough for this procedure. 

What Does This Surgery Entail?

The type of surgery you need depends on your specific condition. For example, a reoccurring disc herniation may require that a portion of the disc be removed to relieve the pressure on your nerve root. Another common form of revision spine surgery includes removing and replacing hardware that has since become faulty. 

What is the Recovery Time?

Because this is a follow-up procedure to an area of the spine that has already been operated on, it’s imperative that patients proceed with extreme caution in the days and weeks following revision spine surgery. Depending on the severity of your problem, your overall health and your occupation, you could be up and walking the same day of your procedure and back to work in as little as two weeks. Most patients should feel ready to resume normal activities by the three-month mark following surgery.

How Can I Prepare for Revision Spine Surgery?

As in preparing for any surgery, you will want to talk over the details with your doctor in advance and get all of your questions answered. To give your body its best chance for a smooth recovery, abstain from tobacco products for at least six weeks prior to revision spine surgery. Additionally, refraining from alcohol for one week before surgery can play a part in avoiding unnecessary bleeding risks. Your surgeon may also advise you to halt the use of any blood thinners, aspirin, anti-inflammatories and supplements before your procedure. Eating a well-balanced diet and ensuring your body is in optimal overall health is critical to the healing process.

When You’re Ready to Look Into Revision Spine Surgery

Surgery may sound daunting, especially when it’s the second or third time, but there’s no reason to continue living in chronic pain. For many, it represents a chance to return to the things they love the most. Citrus Spine and Dr. Constantine Toumbis are known for successful revision spine surgeries. To learn how we can help improve your quality of life, contact Citrus Spine today for a consultation.


If you are experiencing back pain symptoms, you should never ignore or try to suffer through the pain. Always consult your doctor and have open conversations. If you are not satisfied with your doctor or require specialized care, it is recommended to get a second opinion from a back pain specialist.

Dr. Constantine Toumbis

Dr. Toumbis is a board certified, fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in cervical, thoracic and lumbar surgery. He received his undergraduate degree in Biology from New York University in 1987, then continued on to receive his Masters in Natural Sciences as well as a PhD in Experimental Pathology from State University of New York at Buffalo. He completed his medical degree at Wayne State University School of Medicine with a distinction in Biomedical Research. After moving to Florida to complete his internship and residency in orthopedics at the University of Florida Shands Hospital, he went on to pursue a fellowship at Cleveland Clinic's Florida Spine Institute. He moved to Citrus County and has been in private practice since 2005.

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