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Surgery: What to Expect – Implanting a Pacemaker

Bradycardia (Slow Heart Rate)

A pacemaker typically is implanted in the upper chest.

The procedure to implant a pacemaker is usually quick. It does not require open-heart surgery, and most people go home within 24 hours. Before the surgery, medication is usually given to make you sleepy and comfortable. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia.

  1. A small incision, approximately 2 inches long will be made in the upper chest
  2. One or two leads (thin insulated wires) will be guided through a vein into the heart
  3. The doctor will then connect the lead(s) to your pacemaker and program the device for your medical needs
  4. Then the pacemaker will be inserted beneath your skin, and the incision in your chest will be closed
  5. Your doctor will test the pacemaker to ensure it is working properly to meet your medical needs

You will usually stay in the hospital overnight and go home the next day with instructions on caring for your incision. For a short time after the surgery, your doctor may want you to limit how much you move the arm that is closest to your implant site.

After the implant, there may be a slight bulge visible under the skin where the device is located. The leads are very thin and will not be visible.

Each individual's experience may be different. Talk to your doctor for specific information regarding the implant of a pacemaker.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.