Surgery has existed since the beginning of time. Anthropological and archaeological studies found that ancient civilizations also drained and cauterized wounds, amputated limbs and even sutured lacerations.
Over the years, these medical procedures and the way aftercare was conducted were innovated using the latest technological breakthroughs and medical insights. It became more clear what to do after the procedure.
Experts still try to find ways to alleviate infection, reduce bleeding and pain and improve the surgical healing process. Because even in modern day, when surgery is not properly managed, complications with adverse consequences may occur. Faster recovery will reduce the chances of such complications.
Unfavorable effects of surgery may range from mild cases of bruising, swelling and scarring to more serious conditions like hemorrhage, shock, wound infections, bone and systemic infections, and more.
Moreover, slow recovery is inherently undesirable and may cause discomfort and frustration to the patient all effort should be exerted towards achieving the goal of fast healing. Therefore it is good to know not only what to expect when having elective surgery but also how to enhance the surgical healing process.
What Your Surgeon Does Not Tell You About Surgery Recovery
Sometimes patient education by the hospital lacks. I have experienced that myself. Simple questions such as what to eat to speed healing? Or, are there supplements I can take to reduce recovery time? Could not be answered to my satisfaction by both nurses and surgeons. So I did my own research. Here’s what modern science tells us to do to enhance post surgery recovery.
What You Should Know About Speedy Post-Operative Recovery
The body has its natural way to heal itself. With proper care and sufficient support rapid healing is often possible. Apart from quality medical care, conscious decision making, and family support the patient’s optimistic attitude to post surgery healing will also play a role in one’s recuperation. Below are some tips that you can implement to hasten post-op healing:
How To Heal From The Inside Out
Amidst the advances of technology and discoveries of synthetic medicines, nothing can be more effective than the body’s natural defenses and innate ability to heal itself. However, there can be a significant interference if the person is weak and undernourished.
Ensuring proper nutrition intake will matter a lot. Especially when the patient has a nutritional deficiency. Generally, taking vitamin supplements and additional protein is recommended by medical professionals. This supplementation helps avoid and address problems commonly accompanying an invasive procedure.
Adequate Rest and Early Ambulation
After experiencing the stress brought by one’s operation, the post-op client must have adequate rest. This allows the tissue to heal, the immune system to do its job, the systemic processes to work optimally, and the patient to regain enough energy.
However, this does not mean that one must be confined to the bed all the time. A mother who underwent caesarian section for instance is often advised to ambulate as early as possible. This improves one’s circulatory system and prevents blood clot formation.
Keep in mind that some procedures may limit the patient’s post surgery activities like heart surgery. But one must still perform regular exercise may it be active or passive while still on bed to aid in the improvement of one’s circulation and improve lung condition.
Strict Adherence to Medical Advice
As it has always been said; doctors know best. Hence, it commonly pays to follow their advice. A knee replacement surgery for example will require infusion of perioperative iron to combat anemia and aid in postoperative healing.
Each operative procedure has different care needed. Sometimes, the process can be as simple as chewing gum after a colon surgery. According to studies, this restores normal bowel movement.
Unless contraindicated, it is best to have warm sponge bath as soon as you are able to. Your skin releases toxins and the best way to get rid of them is by washing.
Why Uplifting Your Mood Really Helps You Heal
Creating a mood lifting environment also helps. Fresh flowers, some photos of relatives or friends, or a poster you like in your room will surely make a difference. Being gloomy doesn’t help too. A positive attitude is beneficial.
Whether you pray or just have faith that you will recover soon, it can be helpful. Avoid people who are pessimistic since such attitude can be contagious. Watching hilarious TV shows or your favorite stand up comedians will work out on your favor.
It’s often said that laughter is the best medicine and research confirms this. Apart from a distraction to pain and the misery laughing also instigates a release of endorphins, reduces stress hormones, and improves blood circulation by dilating the inner lining of our blood vessels.
No wonder some hospitals have their personnel go through humor program trainings. Voltaire already said it:
“The art of medicine consists of keeping the patient amused while nature heals the disease.”
Probably The Most Undervalued Surgery Recovery Tip
Relaxation. Preparing mentally with the help of relaxation techniques is a double edged sword. At least in case of elective surgery. Research shows that mind relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, and hypnosis can not only help you reduce pre-surgery anxiety but also reduce the need for anesthesia (thus lowering its side effects) and boost the post-surgery healing process.
Anxiety is very common because of anticipation of the procedure, worries about recovery and survival, and separation from family and friends. Stress reduction is useful because studies show that stress is directly related to a lower immune response, thus a slower wound healing. (2) There are several ways that stress can delay your post-surgery healing.
Stress may instigate harmful behaviors such as smoking, alcohol intake, and an unhealthy diet. When someone is stressed commonly more anesthesia is required. Subsequently, side effects such as vomiting, nausea, and headaches could increase. Stress increases pain sensitivity. Which, on its turn, affects the immune system. In elderly patients, psychological stress will involve more risks due to a greater immunological impairment.
Things Your Doctor May or May Not Tell You
These 7 tips are easy implementable but not all doctors or surgeons may tell you about it. Make sure to keep an eye out on these measures to enhance your recovery.
- One common complication of surgery is pneumonia. However, this can be prevented by doing deep coughing exercises. This expands your lungs and improves its ability to breathe easier.
- Be mindful on your incision care. See to it that the medical staff has changed its dressings and observe how this is done properly so you will be empowered to do it after you are discharged from the hospital.
- You may expect your bladder and gastrointestinal tract’s functions to be sluggish. These are normal effects of anesthesia. Hence, a catheter may be inserted and stool softener may be prescribed.
- Your diet will start with clear liquid diet and progress to a normal diet when your GIT function has been restored. According to the International Journal of Surgery (April 2009 publication), chewing sugarless gum will also shorten the period of GIT recovery. Discharge plan must also be carried out well such as arranging special requirements like oxygen or special bed that you will need at home.
- You also need to accept that you are in pain. Hence, take painkillers if needed. This will help you comply with the necessary follow up care like physical therapy and hasten the healing process. Faking a laugh with your mouth even reduces pain.
- Meanwhile, some people find homeopathic remedies to be effective. This has been touted to improve your body’s immune system and help you recover fast. Stress reduction measures like yoga, meditation and biofeedback may also aid in your recovery. With your doctor’s consent, try acupuncture and acupressure to improve your circulatory system’s function.
- You may also try taking digestive enzymesto ensure that your body is absorbing all the nutrients that it takes.
- Always aim to improve your bowel movement since effects of medication may result to constipation or slow GIT function. Make sure that you hydrate yourself well by drinking sufficient water every day. And remember to have lots of fiber in your food and to drink water that is not too hot or too cold.
Why You Should Not Make The Mistake of Not Monitoring Your Surgical Wounds
Keep an close eye to the healing of your incisions. If you suspect an infection occurs inform the medical personnel. Often you can not only see it (when the bandages are removed) but you can also feel a palpitating sensation.
There are various factors that may cause a wound site infection. These may in their turn lead to systemic infections, delay healing, and result in excessive scar tissue. These include bacteria, diabetes, smoking, other infections, use of systemic steroids.
On top of that, being of old age, nutritional deprivations, obesity, and prolonged hospital stay can increase your risk on post-surgery infections. (1) If a wound does not heal properly, ask for Medihoney dressings. More about how to heal open wounds faster.
The Secret To Being Prepared Like a Pro Before Surgery
Whether you are undergoing elective surgery or have had emergency surgery aftercare can always be optimized. Of course the advantage of elective surgery is that you have time to do research and prepare. Things you can do to optimize the healing process include;
- Exercise: when you are physically in shape the healing process will benefit. It has to do with healthy, trained muscles being able to retrieve their normal shape more quickly after the trauma of surgery. When exercise is combined with a well-balanced diet you are ensuring a for a all-round body preparation.
- Diet and Supplementation: a selection of certain vitamins, minerals, and other supplements are generally recommended by medical professionals. These supplements are known to improve wound healing, collagen formation, and for their anti-inflammatory properties. On the other hand, the use of certain medications or supplements discouraged. For instance, some herbs can interfere with anesthesia, such as kava kava and valerian root. These should not be taken before surgery. In addition, substances that can cause bleeding such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), certain aspirin-containing medications, excess vitamin E, ginseng, garlic, or gingko and blood thinners (e.g. Coumadin) should be discontinued before surgery.
Information is (Healing) Power
If possible, make sure to be well informed prior to your surgery. If you know what to expect before and after the procedure you are better prepared to enhance post operative recovery.
It may some effort on your part to ensure you optimize your post-surgery healing efforts but the reward of early healing and reducing the risk on complications will surely pay it all.
- World Health Organization. WHO Guidelines for Safe Surgery.