After Surgery / as You Heal

  1. Arrange for a family member or close friend to stay with you the first 24-48 hours.
  2. Keep your dressings as clean and dry as possible.  Do not remove them unless instructed to do so.
  3. Take it easy and pamper yourself. Avoid any straining or activities that would elevate your blood pressure.
  4. Cold or ice packs may help to reduce swelling, bruising, and pain.  Packaged frozen peas or crushed ice in a zip-lock bag work well without being messy.  If the ice feels uncomfortable, you may use it less often.
  5. If you are not nauseated, start with liquids and bland foods first.  If these are tolerated, then you may progress to a regular diet.  If nauseated, try carbonated soda and dry crackers.  If it persists, you may need an anti-emetic (for example Phenergan).
  6. Alcohol should not be consumed until you have stopped taking the prescription pain medication.  It is not good to mix the two.  Also, alcohol will dilate blood vessels and could increase your bleeding.
  7. The day of surgery walking to the bathroom and back to the bed or recliner or couch is enough movement.  Over the next few days, you can begin to increase your activity as instructed.
  8. You should not drive for 24-48 hours after general anesthesia.  You should not drive while taking prescription pain medication.  The medications may slow your response time and may lead to an accident.  It is also considered driving while under the influence (DUI).
  9. Don’t attempt to shower (even if allowed until you can stand without dizziness for 45-60 minutes.  It isn’t worth a fall in the bathroom.  Take a “sink bath” instead.  The dizziness may be from the anesthesia, the pain medicines, or not being re-hydrated.  Wait another day or two.
  10. Some patients experience a brief period of “let-down” or post-surgery depression.  Often this is due to a subconscious expectation of feeling and looking better “instantly”.  It takes time to heal.  Give yourself “permission” to do so.
  11. Pain medicine and decreased activity may constipate you.  If it has been more than 2 days since your last bowel movement, take something like plum (or prune) juice, Milk of Magnesia, Exlax or Ducalax.
  12. Panty liners make great dressings.  They are packaged sterile and have a protective backing that will keep blood and other fluids from leaking through to ruin your clothing.
  13. Avoid activities that would result in pulling your incision “apart”.  For example, standing straight or bending “backwards” or too far sideways after a tummy tuck.  Another example is reaching backwards or stretching for that upper shelf after breast surgery.
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