Once your operation is complete, recovery and healing begin. You will receive medication to control your pain. Your doctor will determine when you can safely drink liquids and eat food.
If You Stay in the Hospital After Surgery:
The nursing staff is there for your safety and to carry out the doctor's orders. Work with them to ensure the best outcomes. You will be given medications, hydration, liquids to drink, and food to eat during your stay. It is important that you bathe daily to keep the bacterial load on your skin to a minimum. Bathing will either be a "sponge bath" or a shower. There will be orders that describe which method is safe for bathing. Once the bowels are working and the organs are healing, you will receive food or drink in stages. Some patients progress faster than others. This is normal.
If You Go Home After Surgery:
You will receive a prescription for medication to control your pain. Try taking the medication as prescribed for the first two days and nights. Keep 2 tablets and a sip of water at the bedside in case you wake up in pain. This way, you can avoid stumbling in the dark to get to the bathroom. On the third morning, begin taking medication according to how you feel. If the medication causes you to feel ill, inform your doctor. Once the bowels are working and the organs are healing, you can have regular food or drink. Some patients progress faster than others. This is normal. Start slowly with liquids and progress to soft, solid food over 1-2 days.
Someone will have to accompany you home from the hospital. Ask a family member, friend, neighbor, or coworker to accompany you. Once you leave the hospital you will receive instructions for:
- Wound Care
- Pain Control & Stool Softeners
Follow your instructions. Report severe symptoms to your doctor, including high fevers, ongoing vomiting, heavy bleeding from the wound, loss of consciousness, and pain not controlled by medication.
Passing gas and moving your bowels are good signs you are ready for food and drink. Overall, a diet low in fats and high in fiber is recommended for weight control and digestion. It may be a while before you can eat this type of diet without feeling ill. You may be sent home on a special diet until you can eat your regular diet. Examples include...
- Low Residual: this diet is low in fiber and easy to digest. Unfortunately, it emphasizes carbohydrates and preparations that do not optimize the nutritional value of food. Therefore, this is a temporary diet until you can eat a low fat/high fiber diet without feeling ill.
- Low Fat: consuming fat sends a signal to the liver to make bile and to the gallbladder to squeeze itself and empty bile into the bile ducts connected to the intestines. This diet may be especially beneficial to those with gallbladder disease or who have had their gallbladder removed.
- Clear Liquids: include tea, water, bouillon, cranberry juice, and Italian ice. This diet is easiest to digest. This is a great way to gently provide GI tract stimulation while waiting for all the organs to fully recover from surgery and get ready to receive food.
- Low Fat/High Fiber: foods with low fat content and high fiber content are recommended overall for optimal health. Nevertheless, a balanced diet is recommended.
In general, closed wounds are to be kept clean and dry while open wounds are to be kept clean and moist. Follow the specific instructions for your wound, dressings, and showering.
Usually, you may not take a bath or swim for 4 weeks until the wound edges have sealed. This will keep small amounts of water from collecting under the skin which may lead to infection. During the 4 week period, avoid lotions, creams oils, powders, and perfumes in or around the wound. Infection may also result.
It may be tempting to "pick" your wound, remove dressings early, remove what might look like a shiny crust on the skin, or clean the wound with antibiotic ointment. Resist these temptations. Scabs may help with healing. Removing dressings early may lead to infection. What looks like a shiny crust may actually be skin glue which is a protection that helps promote wound healing and avoid infection. Antibiotic ointments may contribute to infection of a surgical wound.
You will receive a prescription or instructions for medication to control your pain. Purchase the medication on the way home from the hospital. Try taking the medication as prescribed for the first two days and nights. Keep 2 tablets and a sip of water at the bedside in case you awaken in pain. You will also receive a prescription for stool softeners to take while you are using prescription pain medication. The stool softener is given to help you to have bowel movements because the prescription pain medication slows down your digestion. It is important to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery while taking prescription pain medication. Also, you will be cautioned to avoid driving for the first 5-7 days after surgery.
Almost every patient is encouraged to walk beginning several hours after surgery. Walking after surgery has many benefits:
- Walking helps prevent blood clots from forming in the deep veins of the limbs. If these blood clots form, they may travel to the lungs and block blood flow that would normally supply oxygen to the body.
- Walking causes you to take deep breaths which helps open air pockets in the lung to avoid fevers and pneumonia.
- Walking stimulates the GI tract to encourage digestion.
- Walking helps with pain control in the long run.
Avoid lifting over 10-15 pounds and workouts for the first 2 weeks. This will help preserve wound healing and avoid complications. It is important to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery while taking prescription pain medication.
We look forward to. Examining your wound and reviewing the pathology report at the post-operative visit which is usually 2 weeks following surgery.