7 ways to bounce back faster after surgery

Feb 13, 2020
Recovering from surgery can take time. Source: Getty.

When your doctor recommends surgery, it might raise a few questions. You’ll want to learn everything you can about the procedure and find out how fast you can get back to work and your normal activities. Your recovery time depends on several different factors, including the type of operation you’re having and the severity of your condition or injury.

Take time to understand the entire process, including what you can do to heal at home. Pay attention to your physician’s pre-operative and post-operative instructions. You can also try some of these speedy recovery tips at home. With patience and a positive attitude, you’ll get stronger every day.

Follow your discharge instructions

Every patient receives discharge instructions from their surgeon. These papers include information about caring for your incision, how to control pain and how to take your medicines. They will also explain when to call your doctor and the signs of a medical emergency.

Review the papers with your surgical team. Once you’re settled in at home, re-read the guidelines and follow them carefully. Call your surgeon’s office if you’re unsure about anything, especially if it involves unusual symptoms or reactions to medication. By taking care of complications as soon as they arise, you’ll prevent setbacks in your recovery.

Get plenty of rest

If you’re expecting a long-term recovery, you may be tempted to catch up on work or run a few errands. Before you get busy, remember your doctor’s instructions. Don’t drive or exercise until your doctor clears you for normal activities.

You should also stay in bed for at least 24 to 48 hours after your procedure. Some surgeries may require even more bed rest. Sleep if you feel tired and move slower than your usual pace. A gradual approach will allow your body to tell you when it’s ready to go back to normal.

Attend your follow-up appointments

Many patients will have their first follow-up appointment a day or two after their surgery. While you may feel tired or sick, don’t skip the visit. If you can’t drive, ask a friend or family member to accompany you. Be honest about your symptoms and pain level. It’s also a great time to ask any questions that have come up since the day of your surgery.

In most cases, your first appointment won’t be your last. Some patients will visit a week or two later, while others will have a final checkup in four to six weeks. Keep going to all appointments until you get the final clearance from your doctor.

Consider home care

Home care aides work with patients who are recovering from an illness or injury, like surgery. The ultimate goal is either to help the patient recover and gain their independence or, if the condition is chronic, to maintain the highest quality of life possible and assist with personal tasks.

The definition of home care is more liberal than you might think in terms of location. In this case, home refers to the patient’s primary place of residence. Of course, this could be a traditional standalone home, but an apartment, relative’s house, senior community and other institutions or group living situations can also count.

Avoid an infection

Every wound, no matter how small, has the potential to become infected. Today’s minimally-invasive surgical procedures help minimise the risk of infection, but you still have to maintain your incision to stay healthy. Your doctor’s discharge instructions should provide you with everything you need to care for the affected area. Follow all guidelines step-by-step and ask a loved one if you need help with cleaning or dressing the wound.

One of the best ways to keep proper hygiene during recovery is to get as many supplies as you can before you have surgery. Ask your surgical team about what you’ll need to maintain your incision at home. Stock up at your local drugstore on supplies like gauze, a mild soap and medical gloves. Never rub your wound, submerge it in water or put lotion on top of it. If you notice any of the common signs of infection after surgery, such as increasing pain, fever or a large amount of discharge, call your doctor as soon as possible.

Eat and drink healthfully

Once you’re allowed to drink and eat normally, increase your hydration. Most adults require a daily water intake amount of between nine and 13 cups per day. Protein, vitamin C and B12 are some of the vitamins and nutrients that can aid in the recovery process. If you’re on a plant-based diet, proteins like beans or tofu can make you feel more energized. Chicken and eggs are excellent sources of animal protein.

Broccoli, cauliflower and kale are all food that are rich in vitamin C. For more B12, consume fish, low-fat yogurt or cheese. Beef and fortified breakfast cereal are also good sources of the vitamin. For more information about the right foods, talk to your doctor or dietician.

Take a walk

While you may feel discomfort throughout your body, it’s still important to get moving. Walking is all it takes to help avoid blood clots and decrease symptoms of gas and constipation. Moderate activity also helps to prevent lung problems such as pneumonia.

Start by walking around your home and then try taking a few more steps outdoors. Increase the intensity of your activity every few days. If you feel tired or faint, stop walking and find a place to sit. If you think you could fall ill, ask a loved one to walk with you.

Blood clots could be a problem for some people. If this sounds like you, consider wearing a type of anti-embolism stockings for recovery after an operation. For many patients recovering from surgery, firm compression hosiery helps swelling and circulation, while a front wheel walker, crutches or a cane may be the best way to provide you with the temporary support you need while walking.

Ask for support

No one wants to burden their loved ones — but know that your family is here to help you at all times. This is especially true during recovery from surgery. If your spouse or child offers to drive you to an appointment, cook a meal or run an errand, say yes. It may feel awkward for you, but the time you take for yourself will help you recover faster.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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Have you had surgery before? How did you recover?

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