You may want to look at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lateral-Release-Friend-OR-FOE/408880595820810
I am biased. I had a lateral release and it failed terribly (medial instability). I had to get it reconstructed, which believe me is no fun at all.
I eventually saw a surgeon specializing in patellofemoral surgeries, he is a pioneer in the field, and has corrected hundreds of failed lateral releases. He no longer does *any* lateral releases himself, he uses other surgical methods to treat PF problems. I think its a useless surgery.
If you are going to go ahead with this procedure anyway, I've been through it. It is typically quite painful, and can take weeks or months for the pain to settle down. You may want to ask about how long it would be before you can return to work. Usually PT starts pretty early, and to my knowledge, most surgeons allow immediate ROM and movement after the surgery as tolerated, you may want to ask about what to expect in the few weeks after the surgery at least.
The quadricep muscles typically will get a bit weak initially, the goal is to regain strength and control. Check out the 'post-op' diaries on this site, and it will give you a picture of how peoples recovry has gone with this procedure as well.
You will find some cases where after about 6 months - 1 year, people tend to do better, and get there limb control back. There are others which seem to never get better.
The lateral release is to cut some stabilizing lateral structures, which loosens the kneecap with the hope it glides more centrally.