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6 Recovering after Surgery Tips

A hospitalized man with doctor talking.

According to the American Cancer Society, how quickly you recover from surgery is determined on the type of surgery you have and your overall health. Find out more about how to recuperate after surgery.

Arrange transportation for an outpatient surgery

According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, even same-day outpatient surgery may require general anesthetic (ASA). You are entirely unconscious when under general anesthesia. For at least 24 hours, your coordination and reflexes may be affected. Don’t expect to be able to drive yourself home once you’ve been discharged. Make arrangements for transportation with a friend, relative, Uber, Lyft, or taxi.

Guard against infection

Infection is a complication of surgery, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Most infections occur within the first 30 days that the surgical wound is healing. You can get infection from the hands of a caregiver or healthcare provider, from germs that are already on your skin and spread to the wound, from germs that are inside your body, germs that are in the air, or from infected surgical instruments. You are more likely to get an infection after surgery if you are a smoker, are overweight or obese, or have poorly controlled diabetes. Problems with your immune system also put you at greater risk of infection. You will probably need antibiotics if you get an infection following surgery. You may need additional surgery to clean your wound if it becomes infected. Signs of infection include pus, a bad smell coming from the wound, fever, redness, and pain.

Be prepared for a urinary catheter 

According to the American Cancer Society, a Foley catheter may be used to empty your pee into a bag during surgery. The doctor may remove the catheter shortly after the procedure since catheters might cause infection. The doctor may re-insert a urinary catheter if you are having difficulties peeing on your own. According to the US National Library of Medicine, catheters are commonly used during prostate or genital surgery. If you have an indwelling catheter, clean the region where the catheter exits the body every day with soap and water. To avoid infection, you should carefully wipe the region after each bowel movement.

Talk to your doctor about pain control

You should expect to feel some pain after your surgery. According to the Cleveland Clinic, pain control can help quicken your recovery and may reduce your risk of developing complications. For example, if you are in too much pain to move, you may be more likely to develop pneumonia and blood clots. When your pain is under control, you may be able to walk around and practice deep breathing exercises that could speed your recovery from surgery. Your doctor may give you an intravenous patient-controlled analgesia which is an IV line in your arm. You will be able to push a button to release a dose of pain medicine. Your doctor may also give your oral pain medication including opioids (narcotics). Opioids carry a risk of addiction according to the Cleveland clinic, but can be used safely for a short period of time.

If you’re in bed following surgery, change positions frequently

According to the National Library of Medicine, if you are immobile, you are at risk for pressure sores (NLM). When skin is injured by remaining in one position for an extended period of time, pressure sores (also known as bed sores) develop. Ankles, backs, elbows, heels, and hips are all common sites for pressure sores. Infections caused by pressure sores can be fatal. To minimize pressure sores, the USNLM suggests changing positions every two hours.

Be aware of surgery complications 

Most surgery complications can be treated. According to Stanford healthcare, surgery complications include reaction to anesthesia, urinary retention (inability to empty the bladder) pulmonary complications and hemorrhage (bleeding). If you have been discharged to your home, keep in touch with your doctor to treat surgery complications as soon as possible.

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