Postoperative acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) following a general thoracic procedure is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) offers an alternate means of cardiopulmonary support in the setting of refractory respiratory failure. We report indications and outcomes patients who after complex general thoracic surgery developed ARDS requiring ECMO support. We performed a retrospective analysis of all patients requiring venovenous (VV) ECMO support in the postoperative period following a general thoracic surgical procedure from January 2011 to December 2019. Exclusion criteria include those who underwent a cardiac procedure, venoarterial (VA) ECMO, cardiothoracic transplantation, or required ECMO only for intraoperative support. Forty instances of postoperative VV ECMO were utilized in patients who underwent a surgery with the thoracic surgical service. Lung procedures were the most common index operations performed (45%) followed by esophageal procedures (40%). Mean time to ECMO initiation from the index operation was 5.45 days with a range of 0 days to 1.3 months. Median length of ECMO support was 9.41 days with a range of 12 hours to 33 days. Patients were cannulated in an elective (70%) or emergent (30%) fashion. ECMO-related complications included a major bleeding event in seven patients. Thirty day survival was 62.5% for the entire cohort and 52.5% of patients were discharged from the hospital and 80.95% of these patients were still alive 90 days after discharge. ECMO is a viable means of cardiopulmonary support that can provide a survival advantage for patients who experience severe refractory respiratory failure following a complex general thoracic surgery.