9 Tips and Tricks for a Smooth and Comfortable Recovery after Surgery

If you have recently been scheduled for surgery, then you are probably wondering how to promote healing and have a better recovery period. Here are our top tips and tricks for a smooth recovery after surgery — from finding a caretaker to choosing the right post-surgery clothing:

Give yourself time to rest.

One of the best things that you can do for your body after surgery is to rest. You’ll want to sleep for the first few days after the anesthesia wears off, t-shirt design and will likely be way more tired than usual for many weeks to come. You should also take time off work so you can give yourself a break from mental and physical exertion. Even when you’re awake, concentration will likely be difficult, and pushing yourself too hard will prolong your recovery. Focus your efforts on resting and healing instead of going back to work.

Find a caretaker.

You will need someone to drive you home from the hospital and to help you with bathing, dressing, etc. your first couple of days at home. Most people get a family member to do this, but if you don’t live near any of your relatives, you can ask a friend or roommate to help out. If that isn’t an option for you, then consider hiring a home health aide or another part-time caregiver to provide recovery care while you recuperate. Some aides only help with household chores, such as meal preparation and light cleaning, while others can assist with wound care and remind you to take medication.

Stay hydrated and fed.

You will likely feel nauseous as the anesthesia wears off, but you need to stay hydrated and eat when possible. Plain water is usually the easiest beverage to keep down, and your surgical team may recommend adding electrolyte fluid to it. If you struggle to drink out of a cup, get a leak-proof bottle with straw instead. Soft or liquid foods such as soup, pudding, and applesauce will be easy to stomach in the first few days, and then you can slowly introduce more solid foods. Focus on protein and nutrient-rich foods first to keep up your strength. You might need to eat smaller meals multiple times a day if your stomach can’t handle full-size portions.

Choose your clothing wisely.

Selecting post-surgery clothing requires extra care and consideration. Not only will you be uncomfortable and swollen, but your mobility might also be fairly limited. You will also need to select clothing that will not bind or chafe the incision site. If shirts and pants won’t work for you, then you might want to consider at-home hospital gowns, which are very comfortable and flowing. And don’t forget hospital socks, which will keep your feet warm while providing an anti-skid bottom to help prevent falls.

Take care of your wound.

Specifics for caring for your wound depend on the location as well as the method of closure. Some stitches will dissolve on their own, while others will need to be removed at a follow-up appointment. Some bandages will need to be changed by your caretaker, while others can be left alone until they fall off. Some wounds should be kept dry and otherwise left alone, while others need to be cleaned gently. Clarify your wound care instructions before the surgery and pass them along to your caretaker so that you don’t have to worry about it when you’re groggy from anesthesia.

Control your pain.

Controlling the pain is essential for fast healing, so don’t try to tough it out! Take the medications that your doctor gave you in the correct doses at the right time. You will likely also be able to take certain over-the-counter pain meds in conjunction with your prescriptions to further ease the pain. Hot and cold therapy are also great solutions for easing stiffness and reducing swelling, respectively. Some people find alternating hot and cold packs to be the most efficient.

Walk a little every day.

While rest is essential for recovery, your surgeon will likely recommend that you walk a little every day (and possibly every hour) instead of putting you on complete bed rest. That’s because surgery increases your risk for blood clots, which is then heightened if you stay stationary for many hours or days at a time. Walking for even just a few minutes gets your blood flowing and greatly reduces the chances of you developing a blood clot.

Follow up with your appointments.

You will likely have a series of follow-up appointments that you will need to complete after your surgery. In addition to checking in with the surgeon, you might also have physical therapy appointments that you need to attend as well. These follow-ups are essential for making sure that the surgery was successful, that you are getting the best outcome possible, and that there are no unforeseen complications that need to be addressed. Mark them on your calendar before your surgery so that you don’t forget about them in your post-procedure fog.

Know when to get emergency help.

Most surgery recoveries are uneventful, but sometimes a worst-case scenario does happen. Talk with your surgical team about warning signs and complications for your particular procedure and medications so that you know when you need to either call your doctor or head to the emergency room. Some typical warning signs include signs of infection (redness, swelling, weeping pus, etc. at the wound site), a sudden increase in pain, vomiting episodes, and dizziness. When in doubt, go to the emergency room or call 911. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Follow these tips for a smooth recovery after surgery. We hope that your procedure goes well and that you have a speedy recovery!


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