The length of your recovery will vary from procedure to procedure. However, they all have one thing in common: the healing process. And because of that, it’s essential to take the right steps after undergoing surgery to help your body recover as smoothly as possible.
As a top-ranked general surgeon, Scott A. deVilleneuve, MD, performs a wide range of treatments at Surgical Associates of North Texas in McKinney, Texas. Whether you undergo a minimally invasive procedure, laparoscopic surgery, or a traditional approach, Dr. deVilleneuve recommends these five tips to ease your postoperative recovery.
1. Follow all instructions
This may sound obvious, but it’s easy for people to disregard their doctor’s orders after surgery. While you may be tempted to get back to normal activity sooner than advised, or you may dislike a recommendation, ignoring your doctor’s instructions can put your recovery at risk and even make it take longer.
Instead, pay close attention to Dr. deVilleneuve’s guidelines and keep up with your follow-up and rehabilitation appointments. Remember, if he’s telling you what you should — or shouldn’t do — it’s for a good reason.
2. Monitor your incisions
Even when you undergo laparoscopic procedures requiring tiny incisions, you still have to take precautions when it comes to healing. Dr. deVilleneuve will provide detailed instructions on how to clean your incision based on your procedure, but some general guidelines always apply.
First, always wash your hands before touching the area. This is one of the easiest and most important ways to support your recovery, because it can help prevent infection. Next, get in the habit of checking the incision site regularly and inspecting the state of your stitches and staples. You may have an infection at the surgical site if you notice any of the following:
- Redness or streaking
- An area that is painful or hot to the touch
- A bad smell coming from the surgical site
- Wound drainage that’s yellowish, greenish, or cloudy
Taking these steps can help you monitor the healing process and detect signs of infection as early as possible.
3. Take it easy
It’s important to get moving again as soon as possible to avoid complications, such as constipation, pressure ulcers, blood clots, and muscle weakening. However, many people end up doing too much too soon after surgery. Even if you feel great, it can be easy to jump the gun and go too far, which could keep your incision from healing properly.
After surgery, play it safe and stick to Dr. deVilleneuve’s recommendations on going back to work and engaging in both simple and strenuous activities. Ignoring his guidelines could lead to setbacks and send your recovery back to square one.
4. Eat right
Food is often the furthest thing from your mind after surgery, but your diet actually plays a big role in the healing process. Healthy foods will give your muscles energy and help your tissues heal properly, and drinking plenty of fluids will help keep you hydrated. An added bonus? The right diet can also help prevent common complications after surgery, such as constipation.
To help support your body after surgery, you should choose:
- High-fiber foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
- Lean proteins, such as chicken, pork, seafood, fish, nuts, beans, and tofu
- Low-fat dairy, such as cottage cheese, yogurt, and skim milk
You should also avoid items that could lead to constipation, which could then increase pain and put stress on your incision. These types of foods include processed items, full-fat dairy, red meat, and sweets.
5. Take your pain medication
When you undergo surgery, whether minimally invasive or traditional, you can usually expect to have some pain afterward. Unfortunately, it’s common for people to avoid taking prescription medications. But this choice can actually work against you.
The easiest way to keep pain managed is by following the prescribed instructions. Having properly controlled pain can help keep you moving, eating, and sleeping, which your body needs as part of the healing process. Plus, waiting to take pain medication until your symptoms are severe means you’ll have to wait a long time for the drug to work.
If you need surgery, we can help. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Surgical Associates of North Texas today.