Many people do not feel well after surgery.
Pain, nausea, and a lack of energy may occur even after a minor surgery.
Usually, getting some rest and following the instructions your
surgeon gave you will help postoperative problems
diminish over time.
Different types of surgery require different
home care instructions. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions to
follow after your surgery. This includes learning about your medicines, diet
restrictions, wound care, showering or bathing, and finding out when you can
return to your regular activities. Your surgeon may think that you understand
more than you really do about what you should or should not do when you return
home. If you have any questions about your discharge instructions, be sure to
ask your surgeon.
Your surgeon will want to talk to you if
- Have questions about your home care instructions,
such as wound care, diet, or activity level, or when to schedule a follow-up
- Develop a symptom or problem that you do not know how
- Develop an unexpected symptom or
- Have problems with your prescription medicines. These
problems may include a rash, hives, nausea, vomiting, or stomach problems.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you
should see a doctor.
If you have had surgery:
- You will be given some general instructions about what to do after surgery. Your surgeon may also give you some special instructions on how to care for the surgery area. Be sure to follow those instructions carefully.
- If the instructions from your surgeon are not clear or do
not cover your particular problem, contact your surgeon.
- If your
symptom or problem starts after the office or health facility is closed, call
your surgeon's office and leave a message with the answering service (or follow
instructions given on the answering machine). If you leave a message, be sure
to include your name and phone number so that your surgeon (or the on-call
surgeon) can contact you.
Do not smoke or use other tobacco products. Smoking slows healing because it decreases blood supply and delays tissue repair. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
Write down your symptom or problem. It may help you become
more aware of your specific symptom or problem or give you ideas about its
cause. It will also help prepare you to talk to your surgeon about what you are
Symptoms to watch for during home treatment
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
- A new symptom develops that is different than
what your surgeon told you to expect.
- Symptoms become more severe
You may be able to prevent problems after
surgery by taking steps beforehand to improve your health.
- Do not smoke or use other tobacco products.
Complications involving the lungs are
more likely to occur in people who smoke. Infections are more common in people who use
tobacco products, because of reduced blood flow and from having more
mucus stuck in the airways. For more information, see
- Maintain a healthy body
weight. Problems with increased abdominal pressure, complications involving the
lungs, and infection occur more often in people who are overweight. For
more information, see the topic
- Practice deep
breathing exercises before surgery.
- If possible, be active before
your surgery to increase your fitness level. For more information, see the
- Eat a balanced diet. Make an
appointment with a dietitian if you need help with menu planning. For more
information, see the topic
Be sure to follow all of your surgeon's instructions after
surgery to prevent problems. You may be instructed to:
- Drink plenty of fluids. This can help prevent
problems such as
dehydration and constipation.
- Sit up,
cough, and breathe deeply to expand your lungs and help prevent breathing
problems, such as
- Walk as soon and as often as
your surgeon recommends. Early activity helps prevent complications. Ask your
surgeon how soon you can expect to get out of bed, sit in a chair, and walk.
Walking increases circulation to your legs and helps prevent problems, such as
blood clots. Walking also helps prevent constipation.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
health professional diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to
answer the following questions:
- What kind of surgery did you
- What type of anesthesia was used?
- How long ago
was your surgery?
- When did the symptom or problem
- Has anything made the symptom or problem better or
- What home treatment measures have you tried? Did they help?
- What prescription and nonprescription medicines or dietary
supplements do you take?
- Do you have any
Incision Care After Surgery