To help you heal and recover from a surgical procedure, there are a number of things you should be doing. Eating healthily can strengthen your body and help it to heal faster. Practising light exercises such as walking improves your circulation which promotes healing. You should also be getting plenty of sleep each night to help your body rejuvenate. These are all methods your surgeon will strongly recommend you do after your procedure is complete.
But while we are often told what we should be doing, less information is given about what we shouldn’t be doing. This lack of knowledge can make it easy to do mistakenly do things we should be avoiding. Unfortunately, this can lead to complications that cause additional pain and discomfort. It can also prolong your healing and recovery time, which means you are unable to work for longer than you had hoped. So while it’s important to know what you should be doing, it’s just as vital that you know what to avoid too. So regardless of what surgical procedure you have, here are some things you shouldn’t be doing post-surgery.
Don’t dodge mealtimes
Many patients find that they lose their appetites altogether in the days following their surgery. But unless you feel sick or have been instructed not to, you should try to eat or drink something. Skipping meals can be easy when you aren’t feeling hungry and don’t have the hospital staff to remind you. But by not eating sufficiently, you are preventing your body from getting the vitamins and nutrients it requires. This can leave you feeling dehydrated and weak, which can cause additional health concerns. You will also be lacking in energy, which can make doing even the simplest of tasks seem more challenging. So even if it’s only small portions, to begin with, eating and drinking something is better than nothing.
As well as reminding yourself to eat, you will also need to consider what kinds of food you can eat. You might not be able to stomach anything too hot, rich or spicy when your body is feeling delicate. Fill your kitchen cabinets with foods such as rice, oatmeal and mashed potatoes. These are easy to make and don’t have intense flavors that could cause nausea. After a week or so, you should be able to return to your normal eating habits.
If you’re having a procedure on your stomach or throat, you might be required to start a liquid or soft food diet. This will involve you having to eat pureed meals or liquids rather than solid foods as your body heals. These diets can last for weeks or even months but can help you consume food more easily. So do some research into these meals and diets to help you get prepared before your procedure.
Don’t smoke while you heal
Research carried out by medical experts has found that smoking can have adverse effects on post surgery recovery. Smoking prevents your skin from healing sufficiently by affecting your blood circulation and breathing. This can result in weaker scar tissue which can be re-opened quite easily. Not only will this be incredibly painful, but you also run the risk of severe blood loss. Due to the lack of proper healing, your surgery incisions are also more likely to become infected. This understandably can add to your recovery time and make you feel extremely unwell. A serious infection has the potential to be fatal if left untreated. Pneumonia is also a common illness developed by smokers post-surgery.
So as well as making it more challenging for your body to heal, smoking during your recovery can also put your overall health at risk. By making the decision to give up your habit, you can reduce your recovery time by weeks. This could mean you get back to work and your other daily activities sooner than expected. It’s also been found to improve the strength and appearance of surgery scars, which reduces the risk of them reopening.
However, avoiding smoking is often easier said than done. While some people are able to go cold turkey, others find it difficult to give up their habit. Even though it can be beneficial to your overall health, the temptation to smoke can often be overwhelming. So to ensure you stay smoke-free as you recover, join an online support group before the procedure. Whenever you feel tempted, you can look to them for help and advice. Your friends and family can also help you stay on track and give up for good too.
Don’t get into your car too soon
Being able to drive gives us freedom to go where we want, whenever we please. But when you’re recovering from an operation, it’s the last thing you should be doing. There is no denying that driving is incredible, but getting into your car too soon could cause pain and potential issues. Your seat belt can cause irritation to your wound by rubbing against your skin. This can not only cause pain but inflammation and infection too. To avoid this, some patients will choose not to wear a seatbelt as they drive. But this could land you a fine and even time in jail.
Another issue concerning driving after surgery is the physical movement it requires. From getting into your car to slamming on the brakes, it can be easy to accidentally open your wound. This is particularly common with patients who have only been out of the hospital for a few days. IF you begin to feel light-headed or dizzy when behind the wheel, this can easily result in an accident. You could injure not only yourself but others around you. So if you want to heal as quickly as possible, stay away from your car.
Just because you are not able to drive yourself, does not mean you have to stay at home all the time. You can ask your loved ones to drive you or use public transport as an alternative. But this should only be done when you feel ready and not before.
Don’t ignore an infection
Even if you don’t smoke, there are other ways in which your incision can become infected. You might have changed your bandages with unclean hands. Or your skin might have been harboring bacteria when the incision was made. There are a number of causes, and the signs of an infection will often present themselves within a few weeks. Common symptoms include redness, discharge and enhanced levels of pain. It’s easy to overlook these symptoms and consider them as part of the healing process. While redness and pain are to be expected after surgery, these could be signs that something more severe is developing.
Ignoring a wound infection can lead to additional health problems and even amputation and fatalities in some cases. So if you notice any symptoms, act quickly. Contact your surgeon or doctor and arrange an appointment where they can assess your wound. The sooner you do this, the more easily treatable your infection will be. Even if it only turns out to be a minor concern, you’ll feel better for getting an expert opinion.
Don’t stop taking your medication
It’s likely your surgeon will prescribe you a course of medication which you will need to take after your surgery. These usually include pain medication and antibiotics to help you avoid developing an infection. But as you start to feel better, you might not think that you need to continue taking your post-surgery medication. Even though you might be starting to see improvements, discontinuing your medication early is a bad idea. It’s likely that your medication is the reason why you are starting to feel more like yourself again. So by not taking it, you could be forcing your body to over do it. It can also add more time to your recovery.
If you stop taking your pain medication, it can make it harder to manage your pain effectively. This can make it difficult to sleep, which will stop your body from healing itself. You may also find it difficult to walk which can have adverse effects on your recovery too. Not completing your course of antibiotics can also increase the chances of infection. In addition to this, you might experience a resistance to this type of medication when you take it in future. This is why it’s so crucial for you to complete your course in it’s entirety. Following your surgeon’s instructions is an absolute must if you want to have a quick and easy recovery. So make sure you fully understand how to take your medication and when.
Avoiding all of these things might seem unnecessary and a bit of the top. But doing so could help you have a quick and successful recovery from your surgical procedure. While they can cause some upheaval to your life, they are only temporary and won’t last forever. But until your surgeon or doctor gives you the go-ahead, you should try your hardest to avoid them.