Did you know approximately one in every 10 general surgery patients is readmitted to the hospital due to postoperative complications? No matter the length of your hospital stay and severity of your surgery, you want to return to your home and life quickly. There are steps you can take before going in for your surgery, and directly after, to help ward off postoperative complications such as infections, pain, blood clots and more.
Prepping for Your Operation
In order to have a speedy and healthy post-op recovery, you need to prepare yourself for your operation. Make sure you are comfortable with your surgeon's experience and track record and ask all the questions necessary to understand the details of your procedure. Don't be shy when it comes to talking about your postoperative recovery goals and make sure these goals are in line with your doctor's. Prehab is another important factor in the healing process. This allows an individual to build strength up around vulnerable areas to assist in the healing process. Lastly, talk with a nurse or doctor about your discharge options after being admitted for surgery and whether you will be moved to your home or a skilled nursing center.
7 Steps to Healing Post-Op
1. Eat Helpful, Healing Foods
Start your postoperative recovery off right by beginning to eat healing foods before being admitted. Foods such as egg whites, walnuts, almonds, brown rice, fish and chicken are all great foods to boost your health before and after your surgery. Be sure to also stay hydrated, as this can help with swelling and inflammation, which can cause unnecessary pain.
2. Alternate Hot and Cold Compresses
If your doctor recommends it, alternate using cold compresses and heating pads to help reduce pain and swelling.
3. Don't Tough it Out
While using cold and hot compresses may help minimize some pain, don't think you have to tough it out. In fact, just "dealing" with the pain may hinder and slow down your post-op recovery progress. Pain medication can be prescribed to help decrease discomfort, and should be taken following the guidelines set by your doctor.
It is also important to know the difference between "bad" pain and "good" pain. Good pain is related to physical therapy and moving the recovery process along. If you are not sure which is bothering you, call your doctor.
4. Don't Lay in Bed All Day
It is very likely nurses will get you out of bed soon after surgery. Moving around post-op is imperative to help reduce the risk of developing blood clots, as well as getting your organs back up and running at normal speed. Depending on your specific surgery, you may practice other exercises after surgery to reduce pain and strain. It is important to keep as active as possible post-op after leaving the hospital as it will help keep your recovery goals on track.
5. Find Ways to Relax
While it is important to move around post-op, you must also take the time to relax and let your body rest. Listen to music, read a book, try a meditation exercise or two, catch up on a favorite TV show or spend time outside on the porch in the fresh air. Partaking in relaxing activities may help your body produce "feel good" hormones, called endorphins, which may help reduce your pain level.
6. Inspect and Care for Your Incision Regularly
While hospitalized post-op, be sure to ask questions about how to properly care for your surgical incision and what signs to look for in case of infection. If your scar is in a location that is hard to see, have a friend, family member or caretaker look at it and change the bandages daily to make sure it is healing properly.
7. Listen to Your Doctor
While you may think you know your body's limits, always listen to your doctor and follow his/her instructions. Don't disregard "trivial" instructions from your doctor, but rather ask questions to fully understand the reasoning behind their instructions.
Make a Quick Recovery with Crestview's Skilled Nurses
The short-term skilled nursing team at Crestview are passionate about helping residents regain their strength and independence post-op. Through exceptional therapy and rehabilitation services, and by following these 7 postoperative steps, Crestview's skilled nurses will help you heal faster and feel better in order to get you back in your home as soon as possible after surgery.