Surgery is often a life-saving measure against many diseases. However, the struggle often begins soon after. The body reacts to any major operation the way it does to a trauma – activating its defense system and releasing stress hormones. The period after surgery is a particularly vulnerable one, and taking a few steps can ensure a safe, comfortable recovery.
Surgical site care
Be on the lookout for any wound gaping, discharge or colour change in between dressing changes. If you notice any swelling, redness, heat at the site, or develop fever, contact your surgeon to rule out inflammation.
Do not touch the incision site without asking your doctor. If required, wash your hands first, to prevent infection. Follow instructions on when to revisit for removal of sutures, staples or dressing. Frequent change of dressings, or long bandaging may not be required, and should be followed according to post-operative instructions. Ask your doctor if the type of dressing is waterproof, or whether you may need to take extra precaution near water.
Regular bowel movement
Surgery may lead to constipation, especially after abdominal surgeries. Anaesthesia, pain medication, decreased fluid intake and low physical activity can also contribute to slowing of bowel movements. Drink plenty of water, consume loads of fiber and move around to decrease the symptoms. If you are having difficulty passing gas or feel bloated after the procedure, inform your doctor.
Preventing blood clots
Prolonged bed rest after surgery can lead to sluggish blood flow back to the heart and development of clots in your legs. It is important to be active as soon as possible to prevent this.
It is important to be active as soon as your condition permits. This will help your muscles regain strength and recover from the effects of anaesthesia. At the same time, be cautious about the kind of activity you participate in. Certain procedures may restrict you from lifting heavy weights for some time after the surgery. Ask your doctor about any similar limitations following surgery.
Unless specified, you can resume your normal diet as soon as your surgeon allows you to take food orally. Your appetite may be low initially, so short, frequent meals would help. Include rich protein sources like egg, meat, fish, soy and lentils, as they will help you recover sooner. Drink plenty of fluids and eat fibre-rich food like fruits, vegetables and whole grain cereal.