The surgery takes a toll on your body. Whether you know it or not, you’re working hard to replace lost blood and repair the incisions. You might feel fatigued and ready to move on with it all. But wait! You can’t jump right back into your pre-operation routine.
Forcing yourself to move and eat as you used to before your surgery can have disastrous effects, completely resetting your recovery process. Whether you’ve had an outpatient procedure or a very invasive one, here is what you should do to recover fast after you get home.
Eat and Drink Properly
Food and Nutrition
A lot of people lose their appetite after surgery, but nutrition is your body’s fuel. Your body needs those resources to repair itself.
Ask your doctor for some ideas on how you should modify your diet. If you live alone, it’s a good idea to meal prep before your surgery. Freeze your food, and after surgery, you can just heat it back up to eat.
Of course, not all food has the same nutritional value. It’s advised that you eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seafood, dairy products, and products that contain healthy fats. You need a little bit of everything in a healthy diet.
If you are vegan, take care to substitute the calcium and protein that you would normally get from dairy and meat. They’re very important for repairing bone and muscle. Good vegan sources of protein are things like quinoa, tofu, as well as beans. Leafy greens are full of calcium. Though you’ll have to take vitamin B12 as a supplement, rather than through food.
Drinking a lot of water is also vital. Dehydration is the most common reason why people return to the hospital. It’s recommended you drink 6 to 8 cups of water per day. You can make use of reminders on your phone or dedicated apps that remind you to drink water.
Water helps your digestive system work more efficiently, reducing constipation. It also thins your blood, helping the blood carry oxygen and nutrients get to where they need to be, as well as lowering the chance of you getting a blood clot.
Don’t drink overly sugary or caffeinated drinks. They might taste good, but they’re dehydrating. Stick to good old H2O! Caffeinated beverages aren’t forbidden, but the bubbles stretch out your stomach and may make you feel bloated and uncomfortable. Depending on where your incision is located, this may or may not be tolerable for you.
Get Plenty of Rest
Your body does most of the healing while you’re asleep. That’s why you should get plenty of rest, especially in the first stages of just getting out of the hospital.
In order to ensure maximum comfort while you’re laying down for hours on end, you should purchase a recovery pillow. These pillows are meant to ease the unpleasant side effects of laying in bed for so long. If you’ve had surgery on your leg, a post surgery leg elevation pillow can benefit you greatly. It would ease your leg swelling, hip pain, and the stress on your joints. There is a wide variety of recovery pillows, suited for every injury.
Get Out of Bed Once You Are Well Enough To
As soon as your doctor says you’re well enough to move around, do it. Being overly cautious and staying in bed for too long can be detrimental to your health.
Lying in bed for longer than you’re advised can lead to blood clots, a weakening of the muscles, deep vein thrombosis, as well as pressure ulcers. Moving around encourages blood flow, which speeds up the healing process.
Follow Your Healthcare Provider’s Instructions
This is a no-brainer, but it still must be emphasized. Any instructions your healthcare provider gives you must override any preconceived notions you have about recovery.
If you want to avoid a premature visit to the hospital, it’s in your best interest to follow these instructions. Don’t do too much too soon, but also don’t lay in bed for weeks.
Care For Your Incision
You should do your part to ensure that your incision isn’t infected. This usually includes examining it frequently, though it may be hard to look at.
Change the dressing regularly and keep the area clean. Always wash your hands before and after changing your dressing. Never reuse dressings, or you’ll get a nasty infection.
It’s best to avoid any overly strenuous activities until you’re fully healed. Your workout routine will have to be postponed, or you risk opening your wound back up.
Use a saline solution or soapy water to dab away all the dried blood around your wound. Don’t use harsh chemicals, such as alcohol, iodine, or peroxide. They might do a good job at disinfecting shallow cuts, but they indiscriminately deal damage to your exposed tissue as much as they do the bacteria surrounding it. This greatly delays healing, especially if you do it regularly.
If you’ve been asked to irrigate your wound, take a syringe and fill it with saline solution or soapy water. Hold it slightly away from the wound, and spray just hard enough to wash away any matter or discharge. Always pat your wound dry.
Go to Physical Rehab
This applies if you’ve been referred to a physical therapist. If you’ve been advised to go to physical rehab, there’s a good reason why.
Physical therapy should be taken seriously. If you don’t attend your rehab appointments and don’t listen to your physical therapist, you might never make a full recovery.
There are just parts of the human body that never fully heal without special care, such as joints in your legs, arms, shoulders, etc. Physical therapy can also help ease your post-op pain and keep your muscles active.
Going through surgery is tough, and made tougher by the length of the recovery process. But if you start planning for it, it’s likely that this stretch of time will pass much more smoothly. You aren’t powerless, and you aren’t alone. Remember to take care of yourself and ask for help anytime you need it.