Surgery. No matter the procedure, whether it’s a routine appendectomy or a risky spinal fusion, it takes a physical toll on the body and can cause anxiety. If you must have surgery, you want to know what to expect and how to prepare. You also want to know how to recover as quickly as possible, so you can resume normal activities. Below are some tips for any surgical patient to help prepare for surgery and the post-operative process.
- Ask questions. It’s important to ask questions in advance so you know what to expect before, during and after surgery. The questions to ask depends on the procedure you are having, but some general questions to ask include:
- How long is the procedure?
- How long is recovery?
- Will I need physical therapy?
- When can I resume any medications if they were stopped prior to surgery (such as Plavix, ASA, Coumadin, certain vitamins)?
- Will I have any drains post-operative? If I do, how long will I need them for?
- What medications help the best with post-op pain?
- Do I need to wear a brace or special garment post-operatively?
- When can I resume daily routines, such as taking a shower or any type of physical activity?
- What are my limitations?
- When will I be able to drive?
- No smoking. Period. Smoking affects surgical patients in all aspects of their care starting from anesthesia through recovery. Smoking affects many small blood vessels, and when having surgery, these vessels are crucial in wound healing. If you smoke, the surgical wound may take longer to heal, may not heal completely or develop an infection. If you do smoke and are scheduled to have surgery, it is very important and beneficial to stop smoking ahead of time to rid the body of nicotine and decrease risks.
- Follow a healthy diet before and after surgery. A diet that is rich in plant-based foods has important vitamins and minerals to encourage wound healing post-surgery, while maintaining a healthy immune system. Also, keeping a healthy diet and lifestyle will help prevent diabetes.
- Have a post-operative plan. Post-surgical recovery varies depending on the procedure, but it’s always important to have a plan for after you leave the hospital. Will you need help with daily activities immediately following surgery? Make arrangements for a family member to stay with you. Will you have dietary restrictions during recovery? Be sure to have the food and drinks you’ll need on-hand to make it easier on yourself.
- Take the recommended post-operative medications. Any type of surgery is no easy task and can be stressful. The key is to remember that you are not a hero, and you don’t have to be. Take the medications as prescribed. The worst is usually within the first three to four days post-surgery, then it gets better.
Tips provided by:
Michele Morrison, PA-C
Long Island, NY