© 2019 The Authors Understanding variation in perioperative opioid exposure and its effect on patients’ outcomes is critical for pain management. This study characterized perioperative exposure to morphine and its association with postoperative pain and 30-day readmissions. We utilized nationwide Veterans Healthcare Administration (VHA) data on four high-volume surgical procedures, 2007–2014. We identified 235,239 Veterans undergoing orthopedic, general, or vascular surgery; 5.4% high trajectories (116.1 OME/Day), 53.2% medium trajectories (39.7 OME/Day), and 41.4% low trajectories (19.1 OME/Day). Modeled estimates suggest that patients in the high OME group had higher risk of a pain-related readmission (OR: 1.59; CI: 1.39, 1.83) compared to the low OME trajectory. Yet when stratified by pain trajectory, patients with high pain and high OME had lower risk of a pain-related readmission compared to patients in the high pain low OME group (OR: 0.76, CI: 0.62, 0.94). In conclusion, patients receiving high perioperative OME are more likely to return to care for pain-related problems. This study highlights opportunities to reduce the amount of prescriptions opioids in the communities.