Post-surgery recovery can be a challenging endeavor that truly tries your
patience. The pain and frustration of postoperative healing may make you
want to rush the process, but it’s important that you take the time
to heal properly for the best outcome. Follow these doctor-recommended
tips to avoid causing any additional damage and to make your post-surgery
recovery as easy as possible.
Take your follow-up appointments seriously. “It is imperative that you attend follow-up appointments to ensure that
your surgery is meeting its goals, and everything is healing as planned,” says
Lawrence D. Wagman, MD, the executive medical director at the Center for Cancer Prevention and
Treatment, and a surgical oncologist at
St. Joseph Hospital. “Even if you’re feeling great, sometimes it’s impossible
to tell how well your post-surgery recovery is moving along without the
help of your physician.” From regularly scheduled blood tests to
checking incision sites, there are dozens of things you may not even know
to look for on your own. Additionally, your doctor may want to adjust
your medications after further review, which could dramatically affect
your comfort during the recovery process.
Follow your doctor’s instructions, even those that may initially seem unnecessary or trivial. “When
we advise you not to perform certain activities or eat certain foods,
it truly is in the best interest of your recovery,” explains Dr.
Wagman. “People often forget that while they may feel 100% healed
physically, there could still be internal wounds or other issues that
need to be monitored. Ignoring postoperative instructions could result
in infections or other unforeseen issues that could impact your health
Eat foods that will fuel your recovery. Diet can play a bigger role than you’d think in facilitating a speedier
and more comfortable recovery. It’s common to experience a decrease
in appetite or to feel nauseous in the days following a surgery, but it’s
important to follow a healthy diet to fight fatigue and help get your
body back to normal. While there is no ideal recovery diet, ask your doctor
which foods to emphasize or avoid.
Get back on your feet. Your physician will probably advise you that it’s OK shortly after
your surgery. “It’s perfectly normal to feel weak immediately
after surgery, but when you’re able to walk again, it’s important
that you get moving,” notes Dr. Wagman. “Start by taking a
short walk every couple hours, which will help prevent blood clots, improve
breathing, stretch your bed-bound muscles, and aid in digestion.”
In some cases, your physician may have you work with a physical therapist
for a while until you can get in and out of bed safely on your own, during
which time it is important to listen to your body and not push it too
far or too fast.
Above all else during the recovery process, it is important that you
remain honest and open with your physician. If you are in pain, do not hesitate to ask for help, as this could be
an indicator that something needs to be adjusted or that your body isn’t
healing properly. “Your doctor is there to facilitate your recovery
and help you heal as quickly and safely as possible,” says Dr. Wagman.
“Be sure to communicate regularly with all of the care providers
involved in your recovery so that they can make informed decisions and
work toward getting you back to your normal routine.”
Have you found ways to make your post-operative home recovery more comfortable?
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.