6 Rules for Faster Recovery, Easier Healing After Surgery
Recovering after surgery is tough on your body — even when you undergo minimally invasive surgery, which is designed to reduce scarring and tissue damage. According to a recent post by Dr. Chris Dickson on “The Doctor Weighs In” blog, proper post-operative care is the key to an easier, faster recovery.
Dr. Dickson reports that if you give your body everything it needs to heal, you’ll bounce back after surgery much faster.
6 Post-Op Recovery Tips
Once you return home after surgery, follow these six post-surgery tips to make sure you heal fast and are able get back to work and your other activities, free of pain and feeling good!
#1 Rest — Despite recent advances in surgical methods that allow surgeons to replace traditional open surgery with less invasive approaches like robotic, laparoscopic or arthroscopic surgery, any procedure is considered a major stress on the body and mind. Your body expends a lot of energy to heal. Help it along by taking enough time to rest. If you push yourself too hard without resting, your recovery will take much longer.
#2 Elevation — Developing a blood clot, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT), is a risk with any surgery. Because you are resting in bed and not moving around as much after surgery, your blood is more likely to clot. That is why doctors recommend leg elevation during your recuperation. When done correctly, leg elevation helps increase blood flow through the veins, lowering the risk of blood clots.
#3 Nutrition — Eat more fruits and vegetables after surgery, and try to avoid processed foods that are loaded with sugar, fat, salt, and additives or food dyes. A plant-based diet during your recovery period will deliver the phytonutrients and micronutrients your body needs to heal. Try blending up some smoothies made of fruits, veggies, yogurt, almond milk and protein powder.
#4 Hydration— Drink plenty of water during your recovery! Bump up your intake from 8 cups to 10 cups per day. Why? Good hydration delivers more nutrients to your cells, lowers your risk of developing blood clots, flushes your kidneys, and keeps your bowels running smoothly. Don’t let yourself get dehydrated, which can lead to problems during recovery. If you hate plain water, try adding sliced cucumbers, fresh mint leaves, lemons or berries to your water. Drinking infused water can be very refreshing and makes it easier to meet the 10-cup quota.
#5 Take It Slow — While getting good sleep and rest are important during post-op recovery, so is gentle movement. Once you start feeling better, start moving around slowly and gradually. Ease your joints and get the blood flowing again with moderate activity around the house. However, listen to your body. If you get worn out, back off and rest. If your activity results in severe pain in the surgical area, stop immediately and call your doctor. Don’t complicate the healing process by getting too active, too soon. At your post-op follow-up appointment, your doctor will tell you when you’re cleared to do more
#6 Get off Pain Medication — Most surgery patients receive short-term prescriptions for pain medications. Keep in mind that pain medications are intended for the first few days immediately after surgery. Try to wean yourself off pain medications as quickly as you can—within 3-7 after surgery—so you don’t get hooked. Too much pain medicine taken for too long can make you groggy and less mobile, and can interfere with your bowel system. Taper yourself off the prescription painkillers, transitioning to ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Bonus Tip: Stay positive!– If you maintain a positive outlook during your recuperation, you will find recovery easier. There is a tendency for people to feel down after surgery. Try not to focus on the pain or discomfort. Recovery is a physical process that also affects your mental health and mood. Keep yourself distracted, ask for support from friends and family, and focus on the positive. Staying positive helps the body heals faster.
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Source: “Speedy Recovery: Post-Op Advice from a Vascular Surgeon. Chris Dickson, MD. October 2018. The Doctor Weighs In.
Image: miVIP Surgery Center; iStock