Type of Surgery

Surgery Recovery Period

Doctor Certified

Last updated: 06/04/2009

Surgery Recovery
The period after your surgery, called the recovery period, is a very important part of your overall surgical experience. The ease with which you move through the recovery period and fully heal can dictate the success of the surgery, the need for additional surgery, and the final result. Did you know that when doctors report the complication rate from any major procedure, they usually consider anything that happens within the first few weeks after surgery? Surgery recovery is an incredibly important time and yet, many people are not adequately prepared. They make so many preparations for the day of the surgery that they often neglect surgery recovery.
Modern surgical practice has evolved dramatically in the past 100 years with modern anesthesia, pain-relieving medications and minimally invasive surgery. Perhaps it is because of these rapid advances that many people forget what is happening during surgery: you are being cut. While we have medicines to block the pain, surgeries involve cutting into skin, fascia and other tissues. Just like any cut, your body needs to time to heal. Extensive surgery requires a longer recovery period.
I find that it is easiest to think about surgery recovery as healing from an illness. While you are not contagious, obviously, recovering from major surgery is like enduring the flu in many respects. You ache, it hurts to move, you don’t feel like cooking, you may not feel like eating, simple, everyday tasks seem like a challenge—you feel rather miserable. The overall invasiveness of the surgery really determines how bad you will feel and for how long. Minor, same-day surgery recovery is certainly much faster and less uncomfortable than heart surgery, for example. The point is that you need to consider your surgery recovery well before the day of your procedure. Being prepared for this process will help you endure it gracefully.
Your body has a lot of healing to do so make sure you have plenty of the building blocks it needs to repair itself. Your skin and tissue cells need to rebuild, blood cells need to replenish themselves, and your immune system needs fuel in order to stave off infection. Make sure you give your body what it needs to recover from surgery. That means having plenty of nutritious food. Also, the meals that you eat during surgery recovery should be easy to make. Unfortunately, many of the prepackaged meals that are available, while being very easy to prepare, are loaded with salt, preservatives and empty calories. If you are truly committed to health, you can prepare larger batches of meals before your surgery and freeze them in meal-sized portions. That way you have a wholesome meal that you prepared is ready to go.
Have all of your prescriptions at the house the day before the surgery. Ask your surgeon if you can get all of your prescriptions prior to the procedure so that they can be filled and on hand during your recovery from surgery.
Having someone available to help you as you recover from surgery is the ideal. Loved ones are often best but sometimes they are not. Home nurses and physical therapists are caring, empathetic, and highly skilled to be able to provide you with the degree of assistance you require. Seriously consider the services of an in-home professional if you are contemplating any major surgery.

Last Updated: 06/04/2009

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