Recovering from surgery can be a painful and frustrating experience, as you struggle to accomplish tasks that were once no problem at all. Uncertainty about healing well and being able to pick up your routine, and possible complications also add to the stress.
Fortunately, there are a lot of steps that you can take both prior to surgery and afterwards to help make the whole process move a little faster and go much more smoothly.
Regardless of what type of surgery you are scheduled for, or suddenly had to undergo, following the recovery tips below will ensure that you face it well-prepared and are able to fight your way back to optimum health.
Depending on what type of surgery you are going in for, there are actually quite a few things that you can do beforehand in order to speed up your recovery.
While there are obviously a lot of operations that are performed on an emergency basis, reducing the opportunity to prepare your body for the trauma, many surgeries are scheduled weeks or even months in advance (elective surgery).
When used wisely, this kind of lead time can have a big impact on how long you’re out of commission.
Get in Shape
The first thing you’ll want to do is to get into the best shape that you can in the time that you have leading up to your surgery.
There will almost certainly be limits to what you can achieve if your health is compromised enough to require surgery, but losing even a few pounds of fat or building a few of pounds of muscle can make a significant difference in your body’s ability to recover.
Getting plenty of exercise is also an important part of developing a healthy immune system, as are fresh air and sunlight. Not only that, these lifestyle choices can improve your mental state in the time before your surgery and wind up reducing stress levels both before and after your procedure.
When it comes to exercising, you’ll want to
- avoid anything that might aggravate your existing condition, but at the same time
- challenge your body enough to make it stronger.
This will generally mean some type of cardiovascular workout, like walking, light jogging or dancing, as well as some strength-building exercises on a frequent and consistent basis.
Your cardio routine might be nothing more than a brisk walk every morning and evening, but these small steps can eventually wind up;
- stabilizing your blood pressure,
- strengthening the heart muscle
- and decreasing the amount of unhealthy fats that you are carrying around,
- all factors that can be predictors of how a patient’s recovery might go.
Use tension bands or small weights in order to bulk up your muscles a little before surgery and decrease your downtime. If you are having surgery on one of your joints, ask your doctor if they can recommend any exercises to work out the muscles surrounding the joint without risking further injury or pain.
- When your muscles are strong and well-developed, they are better equipped to aid in your recovery from a surgery by providing better support to the area.
- Healthy muscle tissue will also be able to repair itself faster after the surgery, in the event that it is cut or damaged during the procedure.
Eat the Right Foods
Nutrition plays a critical role in the surgical healing process. Yet, hospital food is generally not on par with what science knows about nutrition.
Hospitals could do much better than the common bouillon broth, sherbet and Jell-O pudding. Since too many medical institutions still don’t it’s the patient’s task to arm themselves with nutritional knowledge.
Add plenty of probiotics and fiber to your diet in the time leading up to your surgery too, particularly if your operation will be on the liver or any part of the gut. That’s because these elements can go a long way toward fighting off infection by foreign bacteria that were introduced either during or after the surgery.
- While a lot of people are aware of the benefits of adding probiotics to their diet as a means of boosting their immunity to infections, what many don’t realize is that in order for the probiotics to thrive in our systems, it needs plenty of fiber around for it to feed on and work its magic. Here’s more about probiotics and surgery.
You’ll also want to increase the amount of protein in your diet, since it is used by your body to create healthy muscle tissue. Lean protein is definitely the way to go and it can be readily found in eggs and meats like fish, chicken and turkey, or in beans, nuts, quinoa and leafy greens for those who prefer vegetarian sources.
- People often wonder if taking post-op protein supplements is beneficial (the short answer, for most patients it’s not necessary but in some cases it may be really useful).
Go easy on salt in the weeks leading up to your surgery, since it can cause liquid retention, which can cause swelling to become even more uncomfortable. It’s a good idea to avoid sports drinks with a lot of electrolytes, like Gatorade, before your surgery for the same reason.
Pre-surgery is a great time to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet as well, as too much of it can increase your body’s blood glucose fasting levels and make it difficult for your immune system to work properly.
Eating smaller portions of food more frequently is an effective strategy for dropping weight before a surgical procedure, but you can see other benefits to your recovery process from adopting this habit as well. It prevents bloating from overeating during infrequent meals and will make for an easier eating schedule to return to after you’ve had your surgery.
- This kind of “grazing” throughout the day can also help to alleviate nausea from medications that you may be taking before or after you procedure.
Plastic surgeon Warren Lent, MD states
“there are also some nutrients that have been recommended for a speedy recovery after surgery. These include the Omega-3 fatty acids (found in oily fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel), l-arginine (found in dairy products, meat, poultry, and fish, as well as nuts, rice, whole-wheat, soy, and raisins), l-glutamine (found in meats, fresh fruits, and vegetables), branched chain amino acids (found in meat, whey protein, egg protein, and other dairy products) and nucleotides (found in organ meats such as liver and kidney, legumes, and seafood.) These nutrients can help boost the immune system and allow for a faster recovery. Make sure to get plenty of protein during your recovery as well.” (source: Alliance for Natural Health USA)
Generally speaking, the more vitamins and minerals you can work into your diet before your surgery, the better. These nutrients will provide your body with what it needs to create new tissue and defend against harmful bacteria naturally. That means that they can often reduce the need for the use of antibiotics and painkillers.
This is not all, there are more things you can do to optimally prepare for surgery.
Aside from getting into good shape, you can also prepare for surgery by using supplements that are made to help build up your body’s immune system and prevent unnecessary pain or trouble.
Supplementation is especially beneficial in case a patient has a nutritional deficiency.
These supplements can usually be found in health-food stores or through online resources and are normally all-natural, though you will need to read the label carefully to determine whether or not it has any ingredients that you would prefer to avoid.
It’s also vital that you tell your surgeon and your anesthesiologist about any supplements that you are taking so that you don’t risk an interaction with a drug that they are planning to use.
A good multivitamin will no doubt help your body to heal, but there are some specific supplements that you should make sure to take in the days and weeks before your surgery, as well as a few that you should avoid.
A comprehensive B-complex vitamin with a minimum of 50mg of pantothenic acid added is a must, as are vitamin C and zinc supplements, since all of these can benefit a person who is going through surgery. Avoid vitamin A as it may increase bruising.
Many medical professionals agree that high doses of vitamin C help patients heal faster and with fewer complications. Some hospitals even administer high doses vitamin C intravenously in the emergency room.
It’s common practice in Britain for hospitals to routinely use probiotic supplements to reduce the incidence of antibiotic-resistance and hospital-acquired infections.
Arginine, glutamine and long chain fatty acids are known to boost post-op healing. The American Journal of Surgery reports:
Complex pharmaconutrient formulas containing arginine, glutamine, and n-3 fatty acids have been proven to shorten hospital stay, decrease the incidence of infection, and reduce hospital costs in selected groups of patients.
More about studies on glutamine here.
Bromelain is a pineapple derivative and it is commonly used to help reduce inflammation, swelling and bruising after surgery. Take 1000mg twice a day for at least a couple of days before and after your procedure if you want to get the full effect.
Arnica is another plant extract that can be taken for three days prior to surgery and up to one week after in order to prevent or reduce bruising. Arnica cream is a popular post-op aid too as it relieves inflammation and mends bruised tissue.
- Read more about supplements to take before surgery. And here’s how bromelain and quercetin can help you reduce post-op healing time.
Which supplements to avoid
Meanwhile, if you are currently taking vitamin E, fish oil or garlic capsules, you should definitely let your surgeon know. These supplements should usually be stopped at least a few days before surgery, due to the fact that they are all anticoagulants which can interfere with the healing process and cause potentially serious complications.
- Other herbal supplements often mentioned by anesthesiologists to be avoided include feverfew, goldenseal, ginseng,ephedra (a.k.a Ma Huang), ginger, valerian and licorice.
Herbal supplements are commonly perceived as safe but they might not be. The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) recommends avoiding all herbal supplements a few weeks prior to surgery.
Bank your blood
The opportunity to bank your own blood in case of the need for a transfusion has been around for several years, but few people even realize that it’s a possibility. If there is a chance that you will need to receive blood during your operation, this is one preventive measure that can greatly increase your odds of a successful and speedy recovery.
Autologous transfusion, as it’s called, allows patients to greatly reduce their chances of getting an infection during surgery and thereby, significantly increase their odds of survival.
These days, modern blood-screening processes make it highly unlikely that you will be infected with HIV or hepatitis during a blood transfusion, but there are still risks involved in taking the blood of another human being into your body.
There is always the chance that you might be given the wrong blood type due to human error and there’s also the matter of pathogens that are present in the blood due to everyday circumstances.
If a blood donor had a small wound or a serious sinus infection, that might be a harmless enough issue that your immune system could fight off, but there could very well be more aggressive pathogens present capable of interrupting your recovery.
- There are even studies indicating that those who receive the blood of a donor during a surgery are three times more likely to get an infection than those who receive an autologous transfusion.
- It’s important to remember that it can take awhile to bank enough blood for a transfusion, so you’ll need to plan ahead and get started early. You can only give a pint of it once every eight weeks, in order to allow your body enough time to replace blood cells.
- On top of that, you’ll need to give your body a few weeks between the time of your last blood draw and your surgery, so that you’re entering the operating room with a healthy amount of blood cells.
Prepare Your Home
With shorter hospital stays over the last few years, more and more patients are recuperating at home after their surgeries. If you know what kind of equipment you might need after your surgery, pick it up ahead of time to save yourself the trouble of having to make arrangements during the earliest and most critical days of your recovery.
Preparing your home for your post-op condition doesn’t have to mean anything as major as installing an adjustable bed or picking up a wheelchair. It could simply be investing in a comfortable chair that will be easier for you to get in and out of than your low-seated sofa.
This could also mean getting a bench or handles for the shower or a lap desk that’s easy for you to maneuver in bed. You may also want to rearrange your existing furniture to allow you more room for therapy exercises or to reduce the chances that you’ll trip and fall.
- Ask your surgeon if they can make any suggestions for how to get your home ready for your recovery, but also take a look around your home to see if there are things that you expect to need during your recovery.
Try to find any current situations that might prove to be an obstacle and correct them before going in for your operation. Imagine how you hope to spend your recovery time and then gather together the material things that will make it easier for you to do it. Here’s an overview of post-surgery aids you might need at home to improve your recovery.
Follow Your Doctor’s Orders.
As you start to feel better after your operation, it can be tempting to blow off the restrictions that your doctor has put on your activities. The problem is, by doing that you could very well be putting your long-term recovery at risk.
There’s usually a very good reason behind the advice that doctors give, so if you can’t fathom why shouldn’t go bowling or drive a car after your surgery, ask for an explanation.
- It might be related to the medication that you have been prescribed,
- to check up on your bloodwork,
- to look for lingering infections,
- or to another factor that you haven’t considered.
Your follow-up appointment is the best time to inquire about this sort of thing, since the doctor will be able to see how well your recovery is going and might determine that a certain restriction or medication is no longer necessary.
This means that making your scheduled follow-up appointments is an imperative step in your recovery. Some people decide to skip these appointments because they feel as though it’s just an additional expense to make sure that they’re feeling okay.
Since they think they feel just fine, they see no reason to go. But post-surgery appointments don’t usually consist of just a quick once-over. Your surgeon will want to see your incision to check for signs of infection or other problems, and they will ask you questions about your recovery that may not have occurred to you before.
They’ll also often take your vitals to determine whether there have been changes in your heart rate or blood pressure, since that could indicate a problem. These are all things that should be measured and interpreted by trained medical personnel with knowledge of your recent surgery.
Following your doctor’s orders also refers to taking the medication that you are prescribed, as it’s prescribed. Painkillers can be deadly in high doses and they are often highly addictive, so taking more than you should can pose big problems.
- Skipping medication that you should be taking is no less a concern however, especially when it’s an antibiotic meant to fight an infection. When your doctor gives you a prescription, take the dosage that’s indicated on the bottle. If you have a bad reaction to the medicine that has been prescribed, you should contact the doctor who prescribed it and then follow their advice.
Take Good Care of Your Incision
If your incision is something that you will be caring for at home, there are some things that you can do in order to avoid problems with it and help to prevent scarring. The first and most obvious thing that you can do is to actually look at your incision, if it’s in a spot where that is possible.
It might not be pretty, but spotting an infection early on can save you from have to endure a lot of pain and medication. Looking at your incision will also enable you to recognize what it is supposed to look like so that you can see anomalies, as well as to keep an eye on how well it’s actually healing.
Ensure proper wound care
Always wash your hands both before and after touching your incision and the area surrounding it to avoid infections and never pick at it or the scabs that form on it.
Scabs are generally considered normal and they will fall off in their own time but can be detrimental to the wound healing process. By picking at scabs, you can cause them to come off prematurely and leave your incision site open to infections all over again.
Use wound and scar dressings
If possible and not discouraged by your medical team use wound dressing that will keep your wound moist and clean. And thus avoid scabs from forming. Research shows that moist wounds heal up to 50% faster.
You’ll normally only use soap and water for cleaning, though you should ask your surgeon what is recommended for your specific incision site.
Cough and sneeze carefully
Laughing, coughing and sneezing should also be done with some level of caution if your incision is in the head or torso, since a sudden convulsion can tear stitches and even split healing incisions.
Sometimes you don’t have that much control over laughing or sneezing so make a temporary habit out of bracing your incision. This means applying pressure to it to support it.
It’s often possible to minimize scarring from incisions with products that are made to keep the skin moist and protect it from the sun. Taking good care of your fresh scar and knowing you are doing everything to reduce its appearance may help you cope with the emotional stress of the operation.
Oils or lotions that are rich in vitamin C or E are popular natural methods for keeping scarring to a minimum, and many people rely on commercial products like Mederma or Revitol scar creams.
- None of these however are actually effective. Vitamin E can even worsen scars. Vaseline, which keeps skin moist, does show to be somewhat beneficial because of its hydrating properties.
The only clinically proven effective scar reduction products are silicone sheets and adhesive tape. Read my review here, the best surgery scar treatment. I have used these myself after having had major surgery with multiple scars.
- A good sunscreen stick is suggested to protect the scar from the sun’s rays and other forms of UV light, for at least a year after your surgery.
- That’s because the new skin tissue won’t have any pigmentation and sun exposure can cause it to become permanently discolored.
If you suffer from mild itching around your incision as the wound begins to heal and your doctor determines that it’s not related to an infection, an anti-itch cream like Sarna Ultra from the drugstore can usually offer relief.
According to some sources, the fiber you eat before going in for your procedure can also help to combat the constipation that often comes with common post-surgery painkillers.
Fiber in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables is best, due to the fact that these foods also tend to be very nutritionally dense.
Prunes are especially effective in reducing constipation and stomach pain caused by codeine and morphine-based painkillers.
Some medical professionals claim that fiber does not help reduce drug-induced constipation. They state that stimulant, emollient and osmotic laxatives are needed to deal with constipation.
Chewing gum after surgery aids recovery as it reduces the time the gut becomes active again.
“..chewing has some effect on kick-starting the gut. We suggest that patients chew gum three times a day post-surgery.” Dr. Sanjay Purkayastha, St. Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College London
Anyone who’s had an abdominal surgery such as a C-section knows that strengthening that areas aids speedy recovery. But also after non-abdominal procedures, breathing well is important.
You can do breathing exercises or even sing to get strength back to your abdominal muscles and organs and to stimulate overall recovery.
Seek Help If Needed
You should know that it’s perfectly normal and acceptable to contact your doctor or head to the emergency room in the event that something doesn’t seem right after your surgery. While you will obviously experience some pain or discomfort after any operation, severe pain should most definitely be checked out by a medical professional who is aware of your situation.
If you are bleeding or having trouble breathing, these are certainly signs that you should seek medical attention right away. Also, the inability to swallow or keep food down and the inability to urinate are causes for concern and they should be considered cause for concern.
Signs of an infection could be swelling, itching, redness or fever, so if you’re seeing these symptoms, it’s a good idea to call your doctor, since infections can spread quickly in a post-op patient. You will generally want to contact your surgeon first, but if you are having any trouble reaching them, it’s time for a trip to the nearest emergency room.
Keep Your Pain In Check
For some people, admitting that they are in pain is a sign of weakness, but some level of pain after surgery is to be expected and it should be properly managed to allow your body the chance to heal.
If, for example, you are in so much pain that you can’t cough freely, you are at an increased risk for contracting pneumonia.
- Coughing is what clears your lungs, so when you suppress the urge to do it, fluid can accumulate and cause an infection, even if your surgery had nothing at all to do with your respiratory system.
Pain that keeps you from moving is another problem that must be addressed, since it can lead to bigger problems.
- Sitting or laying in the same position for prolonged periods can cause deep vein thrombosis, or blood clots, to form and it can also contribute to pneumonia, so it’s crucial that you get up and walk around occasionally, even if it’s only every hour or two.
Try to manage your pain consistently, rather than waiting for it to hit hard and then trying to treat it. It’s easier to stay on track with your pills that way since you won’t be as tempted to double-dose while waiting for the first pill to kick in, especially if you’ve been prescribed a painkiller that takes an hour or more to work.
By effectively managing your pain control, you’ll also be able to sleep better, an important factor in recovering sooner. It’s always best to avoid painkillers like aspirin, neurofen and ibuprofen in the weeks before and after your surgery however, due to their blood-thinning effects.
The more invasive the surgery you underwent the more important proper pain medication is. As this PubMed study report demonstrates:
Evidence suggests that surgery suppresses the immune system and that this suppression is proportionate to the invasiveness of the surgery. Good analgesia can reduce this deleterious effect.
For all these reasons it’s important to properly use your pain medication. Here’s more info on the pros and cons of specific post-op painkillers to use at home.
Unless contraindicated, get a warm sponge bath as soon as you are able to. This will not only make you feel freshened up but it gets rid of toxins released by your skin.
Relax. Find Some Peace and Quiet
Taking sufficient rest is essential to a speedy recovery. It will not only help you regain energy. The physical stress caused by the procedure, the drugs, the emotional strain all require decompression.
Relaxation allows the tissue to heal, systemic processes to work properly, and your immune system to function.
If you’re going to be in the hospital for awhile, be sure to take your own clothes and your favorite pillow and blanket if they’ll allow it. This can help to reduce stress and disorientation that often occurs after surgery, particularly in older patients.
- Pictures of family and friends can be helpful to have around if this symptom persists, as can a CD with the patient’s favorite songs.
Whether you’ll be home or in a hospital, try to find ways to relax and stay positive during your recovery. A pile of books that you can’t wait to read or a favorite game that’s ready to go can both be good ways to relax during your recuperation.
Meanwhile, either a colorful display of the get-well cards that you’ve received or making up a batch of your best-ever chicken noodle soup could serve as a boost on one of those days when you’re not feeling your best.
Be proactive about visitors (and medical personnel)
A steady stream of visitors may sound nice now, but for the first couple of days after your surgery, it’s best to try to keep it to a few close friends and family members. Or even less.
After that, younger visitors should be kept to a minimum because they can present a germ issue, but adult friends and family could pose a risk for surgical patients too. It’s not only if you are up to getting visitors yet, all visitors and medical personnel can pose risk of infection.
There are some things to keep in mind to ensure your safety. A proactive attitude maintained by you or someone appointed by you can help you prevent aquire a hospital infection and other unnecessary complications. Read more about how to prevent hospital aquired infections here.
The social interaction that visitors provide can increase your sense of peace as much as an hour of quiet can and they can help you out with any tasks that you are struggling with.
Add uplifting elements
Scientifically speaking, it’s not entirely clear whether or not a positive attitude actually helps you heal. It’s probably that if positive thinking comes natural to you it could be beneficial but if you have to force yourself into it, it may work counterproductive.
What is likely is that a negative attitude does not help you. Small things can make a big difference. For example having some photos of relatives or friends around.
Get some sunlight
If you’re going to be confined to bed rest after your surgery, whether at home or in the hospital, try to make sure that, if possible, it’s near a window with plenty of light. If you can’t get a bed near a window get sunlight by getting up as soon as possible and allowed.
Sunlight and window views or plants can contribute to your sense of well-being and help you to heal faster.
This PubMed study reports:
The exposure postoperatively of patients who have undergone spinal surgery to increased amounts of natural sunlight during their hospital recovery period may result in decreased stress, pain, analgesic medication use, and pain medication costs.
The color green does not only spark creativity as studies show. It has an evolutionary link with food-bearing plants which soothes us. This may sound somewhat unfounded to some but research demonstrates that both plants and window views of landscapes can speed patient recovery in hospitals.
- If there’s a chance for you to get outside and sit in fresh air for a little while every day, then by all means take it. Otherwise get up to the window and have your beloved ones bring you a nice plant or some flowers.
Don’t like flowers? Here’s an overview of surgery recovery gift ideas that help you cheer up, relax, beat boredom, and reduce restlesness.
While we’re on the topic, laughing also helps you heal from surgery.
Introduce humor into the recovery process
Studies confirm that laughter boosts your immune system and reduces stress. It can also help you forget the pain and agony. In fact, many martial arts teach their practitioners to produce a grimace when dealing with attacks. Even such a small action helps withstand pain.
- More specifically, laughing induces endorphin release in your body, it reduces stress hormones, and improves blood circulation by dilating the inner lining of your blood vessels.
It’s no coincidence that hospitals increasingly train their personnel in humor training programs.
It’s exactly like Voltaire said,
“The art of medicine consists of keeping the patient amused while nature heals the disease.”
So make sure to get that funny friend over as soon as your abodominal stitches allow it. Or bring some comedy DVD’s, watch your favorite stand-up comedians on YouTube.
More about how laughter is the best medicine and how you can benefit from this knowledge when recovering from surgery here, the role of laughter in post-surgery healing.
Humor is a diversionary tactic, a therapeutic tool, and a coping mechanism
Deal with anxiety and stress
Anxiety is a common aspect of surgery. You may worry about the outcome of the surgery, recovery, and even survival. You will be in an unknown setting, away from family and friends. On top of that there’s the physical stress induced by the procedure itself.
Stress and anxiety may interfere with your post-op preparations such as eating healthy and exercising. Stress may cause you to smoke and drink.
- Stressed patients may require more anesthesia thus potentially causing more side effects such as vomiting, nausea, and headaches.
- Stress also increases pain sensitivity causing you to need more pain meds afterwards.
Stress is linked directly with less well functioning immune system. Reduce stress and you will improve your immune response and improve wound and tissue healing.
If you are undergoing elective surgery mental preparation can be really beneficial. According to research, meditation, yoga, hypnosis and other mind relaxation techniques have various benefits. They,
- help you reduce pre-surgery anxiety
- reduce the need for anesthesia (thus lowering its side effects)
- boost the post-surgery healing process
Listen to your body
Your body is pretty good at letting you know what it wants, but in our day-to-day life we often become even better at ignoring those signs. We don’t go to sleep until we’re done with our work and we often don’t eat because we’re too busy with other things.
When you’re recovering from surgery though, you have to listen to these signals and give your body what it needs if you are to have any hope of ever really getting back to your old self.
- Try to go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning to keep your body’s natural sleep patterns as close to normal as possible, but if you feel like you need to take a nap during the day, then you should probably take one.
- If you find that you are sleeping a lot, but still waking up feeling like you haven’t had enough rest, it might mean that you are actually getting too much sleep and could be at risk for depression.
It’s not at all uncommon for some patients to experience mild depression as they recover from surgery and are sometimes forced into a more sedentary lifestyle. It can often help just to take a walk or call a friend if it seems that this is the case.
Exercise, sunlight and social interaction are all effective strategies for battling mild depression after surgery.
Eat and drink regularly
It’s easy to find yourself skipping meals after surgery due to a lack of appetite, but this is definitely not the time to deprive your body of nutrition. Certain medications can cause nausea and make almost any food seem less appetizing, and there’s also the simple fact that you probably aren’t burning as many calories as you normally would, so you just aren’t as hungry.
There’s no reason to force a lot of food down if you aren’t feeling hungry, but even taking in a light soup will provide you with enough sustenance for a few hours.
If you do have a strong appetite, make sure that you are following the same basic principles of nutrition that you were before your surgery. That means low sugar and salt, good amounts of lean protein and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Remember too that smaller meals every few hours are easier for your body to digest and can provide you with more stable blood sugar. Staying hydrated during your recovery is vitally important as well, so be sure to drink plenty of water or decaffeinated tea throughout your day.
Eating green algae is also advisable after surgery, since it has a lot of nucleic acids which are fundamental when it comes to replenishing dead or damaged cells so common after surgery.
Sun chlorella is available in health stores in powdered form and you should eat between 6 and 10g a day after your procedure. You can sprinkle it in your food or put it into a green smoothie and you probably won’t even notice that it’s there. This freshwater green algae has been proven in clinical trials to aid the body in repairing itself after a trauma.
Randall Merchant, professor of anatomy and neurobiology at Virginia Commonwealth University:
‘Chlorella has been the subject of clinical trials which have found it useful in helping the body heal after trauma.’ (source: DailyMail.)
Here are a few herbs known to enhance surgical healing.
Get up and move
If you are not confined to bed it is best to get up and move a little bit as soon as possible. This improves your circulatory system, lung condition and prevents blood clot formation. Stop for a break and sit down or quit if you feel dizzy, tired or nauseous.
Many hospitals have even made healing gardens a part of their facilities these days, since the healing benefits of sitting in a relaxing landscape with trees, plants and flowers have been now been clinically-proven.
Certain procedures such as heart surgery limit the patient’s post-op activities. Even then it’s recommended to perform regular exercise in one form or another.
Get Regular Exercise
It may seem counter-intuitive if you were expecting to be completely laid up after your operation, but exercise is an important part of any recovery plan. Exercising after surgery can be tricky, since you’ll be balancing any restrictions that your doctor has placed on you with getting a decent workout in, but that doesn’t have to mean that it’s impossible.
As discussed previously, just getting up and walking around will do if that’s all that you can manage. Singing is a good way to expel your lungs and get your blood flowing if you aren’t able to get up and it’s also a pretty effective mood-booster when you’re out of commission.
As you start to feel better and your doctor agrees that your recovery is progressing nicely, you should gradually increase the amount of exercise that you get every day slowly, but surely.
Be sure to include both cardiovascular exercises and resistance-training to increase your muscle mass. Not only will it get help with your blood circulation, but you’ll also keep your lymph nodes clear, which will allow you to recover faster.
Stretching is another component of exercise that is often overlooked and which can be performed even when the patient is on bed rest. Move slowly and deliberately in order to minimize the risk of injury and hold a stretch for several seconds before releasing it. Reach out and touch your toes in a sitting position or hold onto the posts of your bed to stretch your arms. Don’t bounce during your stretches and never hold a stretch that is causing you pain.
a short walk every few hours can help prevent serious complications such as pneumonia and deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
Use Helpful Post-Op Aids
There are plenty of useful products on the market these days that are made specifically to help surgical patients with their recovery. Whether it helps to alleviate your pain or it provides some therapeutic benefit, these aids can make a significant difference in how long it takes you to bounce back.
There may be products that your doctor gives you to wear, but the items that are discussed here are usually available at a well-stocked drugstore.
- A brace or a post-op shoe can provide enough support for you to get around, but you might realize that a pair of crutches or a walker is necessary.
- There are also compression stockings and socks to help fight against blood clots in the legs.
- Heating pads and cold packs are also useful tools to have around, as they can assist with pain or swelling.
If you’re unsure of what your options for post-op aids might be, hit the link to read more, ask your doctor for advice or do a quick online search about your specific surgery to find out what’s available.
Be sure that you let your doctor know about anything that you are using as a tool to get over your operation faster since there could be a reason that they didn’t recommend it for you.
Aside from that, if they do okay its use and it turns out to be of real help in your recovery, that knowledge may prompt them to mention it to their patients in the future.
Speed Up Anesthesia Recovery
If your surgery will involve going under general anesthesia, there are some more targeted tips for coming out of it with a minimum of problems.
While general anesthesia is overwhelmingly safe with today’s monitoring technology, it can induce some annoying side effects that have the potential to linger for several hours or even days. Following these tips can help you to minimize any ill-effects that you do see from your anesthesia.
Take Your Vitamins
Anesthesia recovery is another case where taking a comprehensive multivitamin can really pay off. The reason is that many of the vitamins found in these daily pills have pretty fantastic antioxidant capabilities, meaning that they’ll help your body process the anesthesia faster and get it out of your system.
- The less time that these medications are present in your bloodstream, the fewer negative side effects that you are likely to experience.
Drinking plenty of water during your recovery period will also help to mitigate the effect of anesthesia. For one thing, it will help to flush any of the residual components from your system all the sooner, since you’ll be urinating more often.
For another, it will naturally combat constipation, one of the most common side effects associated with general anesthesia. Taking walks periodically is another effective means for warding off constipation, so be sure to make walking a regular part of your exercise regimen.
Steer clear of alcohol after receiving general anesthesia, since it can make fogginess even worse and dehydrate your body, increasing the odds that you’ll suffer from constipation. It can interact poorly with a lot of medications and alcohol can also aggravate another common side effect of general anesthesia, which is nausea.
Many surgeons will provide their patients with anti-nausea medication if they have reason to believe that it will be a serious problem, but for mild cases it can usually be treated at home with small meals of bland foods for a couple of days.
Have a Cup of Coffee.
Some studies have indicated that caffeine might wake a person up from general anesthesia up to 60% faster than without it, so if you are suffering from mental fogginess a day or two after your surgery, a cup of coffee or caffeinated tea might provide you with just the jolt that you need to start to come out of it.
- You definitely don’t want to overdo it, since too much caffeine can also lead to dehydration, but a single cup of coffee or tea shouldn’t pose any serious risk.
Herbs and foods
Certain herbs such as milk thistly and foods such as garlic are known to help you flush out the anesthesia toxins. Here’s more info on how to detox from anesthesia.
Pack well for your hospital stay
It can be truly soothing to have certain items with you during your hospital stay. It can also be very frustrating to have forgotten certain items. In order to pack your bag well, here’s a comprehensive hospital packing list.
Wrapping it up
While surgery and the recovery process are sure to take some time, there’s no reason that you should suffer through it for any longer than need be. By taking good care of your body before and after your operation, you can start to feel better and get back on your feet faster than you would have thought possible.
Here’s more info on how to reduce surgery recovery time.