Undergoing surgery and the subsequent recovery period can be physically and emotionally taxing. The duration of the recovery process is unique to each individual, and influenced by a variety of factors such as the specific type of surgery, your overall state of health, the presence of reliable medical support, and your personal determination to regain your well-being. It’s essential to gain a comprehensive understanding of the entire healing journey, including measures you can take to facilitate your recovery at home. Adhering to your surgeon’s pre-operative and post-operative instructions is crucial in this regard. Additionally, you may want to explore some of these strategies for expediting your recuperation within the comfort of your own home.
With unwavering patience and a positive mindset, you will find yourself growing stronger with each passing day. Before you realise it, you’ll be back to your regular routine, enjoying your normal activities once again. The actions you take in the days and weeks following surgery play a vital role in expediting the healing process. Here are six essential steps to follow during your post-surgery recovery:
Adhere to your doctor’s guidance
This is a message that you’ll probably hear often, but it’s undeniably important. Medical experts have gained valuable knowledge from patients who choose to follow their prescribed instructions. It’s crucial to keep in mind that these recommendations are given for a purpose.
While certain guidelines may seem restrictive, such as refraining from activities like swimming, bathing, or lifting heavy objects in the first few weeks after surgery, it’s wise not to disregard your physician’s counsel. Instead, consider taking a proactive stance by engaging with your healthcare provider to gain insight into the reasoning behind each directive.
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Prioritise ample rest
After any significant surgical procedure, it’s vital to remain in bed for a minimum of 24 to 48 hours, with certain surgeries necessitating even more extended periods of bed rest. Anesthesia is required by the patient to lay straight for at least 8 hours without disturbing oneself. Listen to your body and take a nap if fatigue sets in, ensuring that you move at a slower pace than your usual routine. Adopting a gradual approach will enable your body to signal when it’s prepared to return to its regular activities.
While facing an extended recovery period, you might be tempted to catch up on work or tackle errands, but it’s essential to bear in mind the guidance provided by your surgeon before resuming your busy schedule.
Even though you might experience some discomfort, maintaining a level of physical activity is essential. Depending on the nature of your surgery, your healthcare provider may recommend post-surgery physical therapy or encourage you to incorporate gentle, low-impact movements into your daily routine.
No need to worry, you don’t have to embark on a marathon. A simple walk can significantly enhance blood circulation and expedite the healing process. Taking a stroll in your local neighbourhood or a tranquil nearby area is recommended but not at an exercise intensity. You can do so without raising your heart rate significantly. However, if you encounter dizziness, fatigue, or nausea, it’s advisable to stop and rest.
Maintain proper hydration
To begin with, prioritise adequate hydration. The typical daily water intake for most adults falls within the range of 10 to 15 cups. A fundamental rule for staying well-hydrated is straightforward: consume plain water when your body signals thirst, and don’t use any other liquids. Additionally, the consumption of juices or other fluids will enhance the hydration. Incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet can contribute to your overall hydration. Many fruits and vegetables possess high water content, such as watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit, zucchini, and celery.
Consume nutrient-rich meals
During the recovery process, it’s crucial to incorporate foods rich in essential nutrients that aid in healing, such as protein, vitamin C, and B12. If you follow a plant-based diet, sources of energising protein include tofu and beans. Boost your vitamin C intake with citrus fruits, berries, cantaloupe, and kale. Additionally, foods like broccoli, papaya, and cauliflower are excellent choices for vitamin C. Constipation is common after surgery due to less movement. The reason is that prescribed medications after surgery can slow bowel movements. One key way to prevent constipation is to get enough fiber. This is especially true of insoluble fiber which increases the speed stools move through the digestive tract.
For vegetarian and vegan individuals, sources of vitamin B-12 can be found in fortified cereals, fortified plant-based milk, and nutritional yeast. Incorporating healthy fats into your diet is also essential for bolstering your immune system and reducing the risk of infection. Consider including healthy fat sources like olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds. Fats provide sustained energy, and many nuts, like almonds, are rich in vitamin E, which aids in faster wound healing and minimising scar appearance.
Prioritise adequate wound care
Pay close attention to your surgical site and ensure it receives proper care. Opt for clothing that won’t cause irritation to the surgical area. Follow the dressing change instructions provided, and remain vigilant for any signs of infection. If you experience itching or other discomfort, promptly reach out to your physician for appropriate treatment.
Additionally, take precautions to shield scar tissue from sun exposure, as newly formed scar tissue lacks pigmentation and is more susceptible to damage from UV rays. Use sunscreens specifically recommended by your healthcare provider to safeguard your healing scars.
Successfully navigating the post-surgery recovery journey hinges on your commitment to adhering to your healthcare provider’s instructions and attending your follow-up medical appointments diligently.
Furthermore, equally significant are actions such as tending to your incision, ensuring proper nutrition and hydration to rebuild your strength, and effectively managing any pain or discomfort you may experience.
Remember that the process of healing after surgery may require a considerable amount of time. It’s essential to strike a balance by avoiding overexertion, heeding your body’s signals, and granting yourself the rest you need when necessary.
(Dr. Srikanth HS is the assistant chief medical officer at Jindal Naturecure Institute)