The prospect of undergoing an operation can be a daunting one. Whether it’s for an injury, or if it’s a procedure relating to a condition you might be suffering from, you’ll want to ensure you’re doing what you can as a patient to make the whole process easier. And while the success of the procedure itself is largely down to the operating team, the success of the post-operative recovery stage is down to both doctor and patient.
By adhering to some basic rules, you can make the recuperative road back to everyday life smoother, and reduce the risk of complications occurring. Here are some do’s and don’ts to follow when it comes to post-operative healing:
A well-rested body will heal faster than a tired one, so make yourself comfortable, and if you’re recovering at home, try to stay indoors. The chances are that your operation has seriously limited your movement anyway, so this shouldn’t be too difficult a rule to follow.
Don’t… try to do too much
Try not to perform tasks around the home or return to work before you’re ready. Ensure you’re fully healed before getting back to your normal routine. Your doctor may suggest you perform light movements or exercise around the affected body part, so that joints around the wound don’t seize up and cause complications – but don’t take this too far. All you need to do in these cases is keep the joint moving. The last thing you need is to bust the stitches holding the wound closed by exerting yourself too much.
Do… follow your doctor’s treatment plan
Your doctor will have put a treatment plan in place specific to you, so ensure you follow it. Take any pain medications as and when instructed, and always attend your follow-up appointments.
Don’t… experiment with other pain medications
A doctor may prescribe medication, such as codeine or tramadol, to relieve more severe post-operative pain symptoms. But be sure to only take the medication the doctor has prescribed. Taking other medications or pain killers without supervision may cause very harmful effects. And if you become unwell while taking a prescribed medication, inform your doctor immediately.
Do… keep your dressing clean
Your dressing is vital in helping to stop bacteria from entering your wound and causing infection. So make sure you keep it clean and intact.
Don’t… try and change your dressing by yourself
Follow your supervising doctor’s advice relating to your dressing. Only have it changed as instructed, and if you have been told not to change it by yourself, don’t. If a problem occurs with your dressing, call the hospital and arrange to have the dressing re-fitted. However, if your dressing does require you to change it at home, don’t try to do this alone – get someone to help you where appropriate.
If you’re unsure about any aspect of your post-operative treatment programme, ask your doctor for help.