9 Tips For A Smooth Post-Surgery Recovery At Home

After going under the knife, patients need to face another challenge: recover from the surgery as smoothly as possible. Post-operative individuals need to be monitored closely, as they may be susceptible to complications and infections. However, each person’s body reacts differently to post-surgical trauma. Thus, recovery time can vary from one patient to another. 

A primary way to ensure swift recovery after surgery is to follow your physician’s instructions and to keep incisions clean. In reality, though, post-surgery recovery is riddled with challenges. But you can overcome these hurdles by knowing what to expect, finding out ways to minimize pain, and ultimately, keeping complications at bay. 

7 Things That You Should Expect For Post-Surgery  

  • You’ll Need Help

No matter how strong you may be, you’ll need some form of assistance to perform daily activities. As your movements will likely be restricted, you’ll need someone you can trust to help you bathe, put clothes on, cook, clean, and so on. 

If you’re living alone or have family members who need to work and report to the office, consider hiring home health services. Even if you feel you can perform some tasks, having someone to look after you and being with someone you can talk to are critical for your physical, emotional, and mental health.  

  • You’ll Get Bored 

Expect to stay on your bed for the first few days following your discharge from the hospital. This leaves you with very few options for killing time. For instance, watching television can get boring after a few hours. Listening to music may partially cure your boredom.

Reading books is also an especially good alternative. Consider placing your favorite books on your bedside table before your surgery. Just remember to avoid moving too much or doing things that could delay your recovery. 

  • You May Not Be Able To Communicate With Friends 

Even if your hands weren’t impacted by the injury and subsequent surgery, you may still have difficulties operating your phone. In anticipation of this challenge, consider downloading an app that can write your message as you dictate it. Voice-to-text apps are now widely available for any smartphone operating system. You can also consider recording voice messages to respond to your friends and colleagues who’ll get in touch with you to send their regards. 

  • You May Not Be Able To Wear ‘Regular’ Clothes 

Surgical clothes are designed so that they can easily be put on and taken off. At home, you need to wear clothes that function similarly to ensure ease of movement. This is especially true if you have a cast or had been operated on a sensitive part of your body. For instance, having a blouse that you can easily tie and untie is useful if you’ve had breast implants or were operated on the head or shoulder. 

  • You’d Get Constipated 

Some narcotic pain medications may cause constipation. That’s why you have to ask your doctor for a laxative prescription to help you pass more easily.     

You can complement this by taking soft foods and consuming a lot of fiber and fluids. Ask your friends to cook soup for you. Moreover, take herbal teas, fruits, and vegetables. Consider taking probiotics, too.       

  • You Won’t Feel Your Best

It’s a given that you won’t be able to wear makeup or shave your beard for days following your surgery. Worse, without help, taking a bath may become a challenge that you shouldn’t take on carelessly.    

As you likely won’t be able to visit your favorite barber or hairdresser for weeks, consider having one shortly before your surgery. Getting a pre-surgery spa appointment for a massage or facial could help you feel good before and even after the operation.      

  • You May Get Depressed

Depending on the reason for your surgery, a post-operative patient may feel isolated and become depressed. This is especially true for surgeries that involve dismemberment or disfiguration.

Losing one’s limbs could cause great frustration and feelings of helplessness. A person may feel traumatized, especially after a highly distressing incident, and this can contribute to the emotional roller coaster a post-operative patient is expected to go through. 

To reduce post-surgical stress, have everything prepared and cleaned before your surgery so that when you arrive from the hospital, you’ll at least feel good about having everything already in order.     

What To Do To Have A Smooth Post-Surgery Recovery At Home  

If you want to experience quick and painless recovery at home, consider having someone who can assist you perform the following activities properly: 

  • Follow Your Discharge Instructions

All patients who’ve been discharged from the hospital will receive care instructions from the physician. The form will contain the name of the medicines to take in what dose(s). Post-surgical patients will receive added information on how to care for wounds and incisions, including how to change their wound dressing. These guidelines are meant to help hasten your recovery. So, make sure you follow them diligently. 

If you notice any unforeseen signs and symptoms, call your doctor right away. It may be a potential adverse effect of your medication.        

  • Get Enough Sleep

Catching up on much-needed sleep is critical for faster recovery. Sleeping has great regenerative and restorative effects on your body. Unfortunately, a patient who’s just had a surgical procedure will likely have difficulties getting high-quality sleep because of pain, discomfort, stress, and as an adverse effect of anesthesia.

The pain-numbing chemicals in anesthesia can actually interfere with your biological clock, making you feel active during the night and lethargic during the day. In the same manner, your body needs time to adjust to the changes resulting from the operation.  

To help you sleep better, consider the following:

  • Take your pain medications 30 minutes before your bedtime to make sure you won’t get disrupted by pain when you’re about to sleep.
  • Make your sleeping area comfortable. After surgery, you may not be able to sleep in your preferred position. Consider placing pillows in strategic positions to help support your body and prevent strains.   
  • Show Up On Your Next Appointment

Doctors typically ask to see their patients one or two weeks after they’re discharged. As a responsible patient, don’t skip this follow-up consultation, even if you feel well. There may be some symptoms or potential problems that only your doctor can detect, thus making this check-up essential to your recovery.

When meeting your physician, don’t be afraid to ask questions and relay any information about health concerns that might be bothering you. Be open about discussing how you feel and your pain triggers.

Your doctor may ask you to take certain tests at this time to check the progress of your recovery. If anything, your doctor can help you recover faster by changing your prescription medications or modifying your treatment plan, if necessary.    

  • Manage Pain Properly 

One of the main objectives of your treatment plan is appropriate pain management. Most patients try to reduce their medication intake to prevent addiction. However, proper pain management involves a proactive approach. This means taking medicines as directed and not waiting for severe and persistent pain to take over.      

As with all medication, oral painkillers take a few minutes to take effect. If you consume it only after you’ve felt a throbbing pain kicking in, it might not be as effective as it should be.   

Pain management is critical, although it doesn’t mean you won’t feel any discomfort at all. If you’re in constant pain, you might be too distressed to perform any activity—making you susceptible to complications. 

Uncontrolled pain may also cause sleep deprivation, which doesn’t do any good in accelerating recovery, as discussed in the previous section.       

  • Consider Home Health Care Services 

Home care aides are trained to help patients who are recovering from injuries and serious illnesses. They’re healthcare professionals who are capable of assisting patients until they’re fully capable of performing regular activities. In the case of chronic pain sufferers, these assistants can perform errands and tasks on their clients’ behalf.

Given their special training, hiring home health care aides can be beneficial for persons who can’t take care of themselves, other people, and their homes following a surgical procedure. 

Moreover, perhaps one of the best reasons for having a home care aid is companionship. Having some form of human contact can make one feel less isolated and help a patient’s emotional and mental health, thus possibly preventing depression and other issues.    

  • Get Plenty Of Rest But Remain Active 

You’ll probably be advised to stay in bed for up to two days following your discharge from the hospital. However, don’t stay immobile for long, as this can lead to bigger problems down the road. Complications such as pneumonia, muscle atrophy, and deep vein thrombosis occur when a patient stays in bed for too long.    

  • Pneumonia happens when the sacs in your lungs get infected or inflamed. Some post-operative patients become vulnerable to developing this infection after their lungs fail to clear after using breathing machines in the health facility. In severe cases, some abdominal surgery patients may develop diaphragm dysfunction, affecting the lungs. 
  • Post-surgery patients are susceptible to deep vein thrombosis (DVT)—a condition where a blood clot develops in a vein deep inside your body. This clot, called an embolus, can detach from the vein and travel to the lungs, disrupting blood flow. This is a serious and potentially fatal health condition that needs emergency medical treatment.    
  • Muscle atrophy can happen to patients who’ve had long periods of inactivity. Patients with orthopedic conditions, who choose not to remain active, are vulnerable to this condition.

Ask your doctor which activities are allowed during the different stages of your recovery. If you’re prone to developing DVT, consider wearing compression stockings. 

  • Perform Gentle Exercises 

Walking is one of the most widely recommended exercises for individuals recuperating from surgery. Getting on your feet is also said to help ease constipation and allows the patient to prepare to sreturn to their normal routine sooner. There are numerous benefits to walking, such as enhancing the immune system and improving your mood. These processes are essential in ensuring a faster recovery. 

In addition to walking, light exercises such as biking and swimming are considered helpful for post-operative patients, too. Stretches may be performed to strengthen muscles and joints, as well as promote flexibility.   

You can start small and take it from there. For instance, walk around the house on your first day home, and then gradually explore the outdoors on the second or third day. Increase your walking distance a little each time.   

Again, it’s important to speak to your physician before embarking on an exercise routine. Avoid doing too much, too soon. If it becomes painful for you to perform certain activities, stop doing them immediately.     

  • Avoid Getting An Infection

Ideally, all the instructions regarding wound care are included in the discharge sheet from your doctor. Follow these instructions carefully to prevent infection from settling in, hence delaying your recovery. Before leaving the hospital, make sure you have everything you need to clean and protect your incisions. If you need help with your wounds, don’t hesitate to ask a family member to help you out. 

Despite technology now allowing for minimally invasive surgeries, the risk of your surgical incisions getting infected still remains. One wrong move, like picking your sutures or rubbing your wound, could cause severe setbacks to your healing process.

And if you develop fever, redness, excessive discharge, or severe pain in the affected area, call your physician right away, as these could be signs of an infection.              

  • Observe A Healthy Diet

Apart from keeping yourself well-hydrated, it’s also important to eat fiber-rich and nutrient-packed foods. Your main objective in eating a healthy diet is to prevent complications, infections, and provide your body with essential nutrients to help speed up your recovery.   

Vitamins C, D, Omega-3, and B-12 are other essentials in promoting post-surgical healing. Moreover, meat, egg, milk, and chicken are the ideal common main sources of protein. Fruits and vegetables such as kale, lemon, and broccoli are only a few of the foods rich in vitamin C. To obtain a healthful supply of vitamin B12, eat healthy servings of fish, cheese, and yogurt.        

Make sure to eat anti-inflammatory foods, too, so that you’re less likely to experience swelling and muscle strain. Olive oil, tomatoes, nuts, and salmon are some of the food sources that fight inflammation.   

When To See A Doctor 

If you’re showing signs of infection, suddenly developing high fever, having difficulty breathing, bleeding, and excessive secretions from the wound area, consider calling your doctor or go straight to the emergency room.    

The Wrap-Up

After getting discharged from the hospital, a patient must ensure proper self-care to hasten their recovery. Taking care of your wounds, eating well, and keeping yourself active are a few of the main responsibilities of a post-operative patient.  

Apart from religiously obeying doctor’s discharge orders, keeping a positive attitude, healthy body, and sound mind are all factors that contribute to improving your health. 

As no medical procedure is ever perfect, keep your eyes peeled for potential complications and infections, and seek immediate medical help once you see any of the signs enumerated above.     

Categories: Health

Nicolas Desjardins

Hello everyone, I am the main writer for SIND Canada. I've been writing articles for more than 12 years and I like sharing my knowledge. I'm currently writing for many websites and newspapers. I always keep myself very informed to give you the best information. All my years as a computer scientist made me become an incredible researcher. You can contact me on our forum or by email at [email protected].