Are you about to have surgery and looking for ways to heal faster so you can get back to your daily routine? Recovering from surgery can be a drawn-out process for some, but if you heed your doctor and surgeon’s advice, maintaining your incision at home while taking proper precautions, you can be back at the gym or work in no time!
Ready to get back on your feet? Here are 10 tips to speed up post-surgical recovery, from wearing adaptive clothing that makes dressing easy to keeping the incision clean.
#1 Wear Proper Post-Surgery Clothing
One of the easiest ways you can speed up post-surgical recovery is to be gentle on the area. To do so, this means not bending the region and taking it slow. It might mean swapping out your usual laced sneakers with some slip-on loafers or wearing a boot — or it could mean having to wear a sling that makes getting dressed and undressed a chore. To make your post-surgical recovery life easier, pick out post-surgery clothing. Brands like Silverts offer lots of innovative adaptive clothing to make dressing with a cast or while sitting in a wheelchair effortless.
#2 Follow Your Doctor’s Guidance
Make sure to follow your doctor’s guidance and instructions to a T. While there might be seemingly simple instructions that you would rather skip, your doctor knows best. For example, while you might feel like getting a warm bath to ease any remaining aches, there’s a reason you shouldn’t take a bath after a surgical procedure.
The same goes for swimming or lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds. If you have doubts on the guidance, always feel free to ask why the restriction is in place. But there’s probably a very good reason for it.
#3 Stick to Any Follow-Up Appointments
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When your doctor makes any follow-up appointments, do not skip them! This might be obvious at first, while your body is still sore and trying to heal. But when you begin to feel better and the wound is healing nicely, this is when many tend to brush off the remaining appointments.
Whether or not you feel they are a waste of time or money, make sure to stick to any follow-up appointments. The last appointments can help your doctor see underlying things that patients typically do not. For example, they can take blood work, see signs of infection and look for signs that an internal incision is healing properly. They may even prescribe further medications to help you along.
#4 Check the Incision Daily and Prevent Infection
While it might not be pleasant to look at, make sure to give your incision a good once-over several times a day to ensure its healing properly. Of course, this is if you can see your incision. Sometimes the incision might be internal, too.
Take note if the incision is pink or red or if there is any drainage. Make sure any staples or stitches are still intact. Be sure you know the signs of an infected incision area and call your doctor if there are any issues.
Still, the best way you can protect your incision is to keep it dressed and sterilized. One of the most critical steps to speeding up post-surgical recovery is to simply wash your hands before touching or dressing the incision.
#5 Stay Hydrated and Eat Well
After surgery, many people don’t feel like eating, whether it’s from nausea to constipation. However, it’s still important to do so and especially to stay hydrated. Keeping regular meals and eating healthily can allow your body to heal and speed up post-surgical recovery. Plus, it helps to negate unwanted side effects from anesthesia.
#6 Cough Carefully and Sneeze Gently
Coughing and sneezing can make our bodies jerk in ways that might disrupt the incision. And this is especially true if you have abdominal surgery. Since a new incision isn’t strong, an abrupt sneeze or cough can do some damage if you’re not too careful. The best way to prevent this from happening is to brace your incision by applying pressure with a hand or pillow.
Remember not to hold back coughs or sneezes. Coughing is especially important and can help prevent pneumonia.
#7 Care for Your Incision Properly
Make sure to take care of the incision. While you know the importance of clean hands, your incision doesn’t need to be too clean. In fact, many patients attempt to remove scabs or use things like alcohol or peroxide to kill germs. However, unless this is specified by your doctor, a simple solution of water and soap is sufficient. Again, it’s also not wise to soak the incision in a bath. Take showers instead.
#8 Try to Manage Any Pain
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Try to keep any pain under control. While many patients fear addiction to pain medications, even when taken properly as prescribed by the doctor, other patients refuse drugs simply to try and tough it out.
Still, if you are in real pain, you need to take pain medications. Taking pain medications can help you cough easier, which prevents pneumonia. And if you are in so much pain you can’t even walk, it could result in blood clots.
Ultimately, you need to keep the pain manageable to help you stay slightly active. Take medication before the pain starts and make sure to hydrate. Otherwise, the medications can bring on other symptoms such as constipation or dizziness.
#9 Know When to Seek Help
Monitor your symptoms. While on medications and recovering from surgery, call your surgeon, primary care physician or head to the emergency room if there are signs of trouble. What are some of these signs? We’ve put together this list:
- Breathing issues;
- Unable to keep food or water down;
- Trouble urinating;
- Signs of infection.
#10 Stay Physically Active
After a surgical procedure, one important tip for a speedy recovery is to stay active. Unless it’s something like knee surgery, a short walk around the house once every two hours can prevent long-term side effects and more serious complications like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pneumonia. A simple walk can also help alleviate constipation, a common side effect of anesthesia. Plus, it simply gets your body’s blood pumping, helping heal the incision area.