Recovering from surgery doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does require some time and effort in order to get back to your usual activities. Surprisingly, a large percentage of patients don’t follow the recovery instructions given to them by their doctor or surgeon after surgery, which can then hinder their body’s natural healing process and even cause unintentional harm.
Whilst, understandably, you will want to heal and recover faster to get back to your usual day to day activities, it is very important to take time out and ensure that your body is well-rested and recovered before you do so. For most patients, post-surgery recovery is fairly straightforward and requires bed rest and downtime, but for some, the process can be a bit more complicated than they predicted. Knowing how to improve your recovery and healing following surgery is important, so with this in mind, here are 5 tips to help promote healing following surgery.
Follow Your Doctor’s Recommendations
After surgery, your doctor or surgeon will visit you to give you some feedback on how the surgery went and recommendations for post-operation recovery. Depending on the surgery you have had, this advice will likely differ from patient to patient. Some patients take this advice to be flexible and often won’t follow it, meaning that their recovery progress is hindered.
If a doctor tells you that you shouldn’t have baths following your surgery, then there is a very good reason for it. If you don’t understand why a doctor has given you certain instructions following your surgery, then be sure to ask questions as to why it is important.
Maintain A Healthy Diet
When it comes to post-surgery recovery, you are mostly relying on your body to help boost your health. There are many ways in which you can support your body to help with post-operation recovery, and a healthy diet will work wonders when it comes to nursing your body back to full health. Try to eat a diet that is full of healthy, natural foods such as vegetables and fruits, that are also packed full of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Protein-packed foods, such as chicken and eggs, vitamin C dense foods and foods rich in iron, such as fish and eggs are all good for your gut and help to promote healing.
Try to avoid diets that are full of refined sugar or high in fat following your surgery, as rapidly fluctuating blood sugar levels can cause you to feel fatigued. It is also important to remain hydrated following your surgery, but try to avoid energy or sports drinks. The sodium used to make sports drinks can cause the body to retain water, which then in turn increases swelling, making it much harder for your body to heal after surgery.
Following surgery, a lot of people don’t feel like eating, due to nausea or just not feeling hungry, but it is important to eat regularly and drink plenty of water as it can help your body to heal, minimise the risk of complications and help combat the side effects of the anaesthesia.
Try To Move Around
After most surgeries, your doctor will recommend that you avoid physical activity and exertion, so as not to cause harm to your wound or incision, but you should avoid staying in bed or lay on the sofa as this can also cause harm. As soon as you are comfortably able to, you should go for walks around the house and go up and down the stairs a few times a day to keep your body and digestive system moving, as well as help any swelling go down.
Try not to push your body too much by moving before you are ready, as it is important to reduce any stress and negative impact on your surgery site or incision. Following cosmetic surgeries, such as a tummy tuck, then you will want to ensure that your surgery is healing well before you start to move around. It is important to discuss your healing process with your surgeon.
If you are struggling to get up and about after surgery, then ask your friends and family for help with things such as food shopping, cleaning and cooking. Once you feel able to get up and move around, a short walk or two every hour can help to promote healthy healing and, depending on the surgery you have had, your doctor may refer you for physio or other treatment to help you to rehabilitate following your surgery.
Keep An Eye On Your Incision
Whilst it might not be very visually appealing, be sure to keep an eye on your surgery site and take a look at it every day. Whilst there are some operation procedures where looking at your incision isn’t possible, but for most procedures, a quick glance in the mirror can help you keep an eye on how your surgery is healing.
Taking a look at whether the incision is pink or red can help you to identify how it is healing and be sure to speak to your doctor or surgeon if you notice any discolouration in your incision, as this could indicate a possible infection. If your surgery required stitches or staples, then ensuring that these are kept intact for the recommended time frame as suggested by your surgeon is important to also minimise the risk of infection. It is also important to keep your surgery incision clean and dry, especially after showers. Applying clean gauze or tape each day and especially after bathing can help your incision heal much quicker.
A lot of patients get worried about infection following surgery and often, in an attempt to reduce the risk, tend to overclean the surgery site. This in itself can cause issues and caring for your incision doesn’t need to be complicated. Unless your surgeon specifically instructs you otherwise, then simply using warm water and soap is more than enough when it comes to keeping your incision clean. Whilst not particularly good to look at, scabbing is completely normal and indicates that your incision is healing properly.
If you get tempted to soak your incision, then this can cause issues with healing also, as it weakens the incision line and can cause scarring or improper healing. This is one of the reasons why many surgeons recommend showers as opposed to baths following surgery, as well as swimming.
Manage Your Pain
Recovering from surgery can be quite painful, so it is really important that you keep your pain under control. A lot of patients are hesitant when it comes to taking post-surgery painkillers because they fear they will become over-reliant or that it won’t help much. However, if you are in pain and are struggling to rest properly, or even cough, then it is important that you help your body heal and rest following your surgery.
Whilst achieving no pain can be an unreasonable goal, keeping it at a tolerable level will help your body to speed up the healing process. It is often easier to control pain and discomfort if you take medication at regular intervals or as prescribed by your doctor or surgeon. If you wait until the pain is severe before taking painkillers, then this will in turn make it longer for them to kick in and start working. It’s important that you drink plenty of water when taking painkillers, as some can make you dehydrated or constipated. A lot of post-surgery medication cannot be taken on an empty stomach, so try to time them to coincide with meals.