Any surgery can be scary. Knowing what to expect can help.
The incision should be clean and is usually covered by a bandage or gauze pads, depending on the surgeon and the type of surgery. A little drainage or bleeding may occur and is quite normal. If you see more than a little drainage, or opening of the incision site, contact your physician.
After a few days, you should be able to take a shower and let water run over the incision. No scrubbing the incision though, as you may pull out some of the stitches or risk getting an infection. Baths (Jacuzzis and swimming pools) should be avoided until the stitches or staples are removed and incision is well healed.
Anesthesia is great for surgery, but it can also leave you constipated, nauseous or light-headed. If any of these persist, contact your physician. You should also try to drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy, and move around as much as your surgery will let you.
Other warning signs to look out for include: high fever (over 100 degrees), difficulty breathing and severe pain/ swelling/ redness around or beyond the surgical site.
After any surgery, some pain or discomfort is expected. This should be controllable with pain medications, rest and ice. You should contact your surgeon if you have severe or uncontrollable pain. If you are not experiencing much pain and do not want to take pain medication, please talk to your surgeon (his assistant or nurse) prior to stopping as they may have safety instructions or have other non-prescription drug alternatives. If you have unused opioid pain medication, please dispose of properly, most police stations are drop off sites. Saving for a “rainy day” can lead to someone other than you taking it. Opioid abuse is an epidemic and the fastest growing drug taken by middle-schoolers.
Depending on the surgery and surgeon, expect to spend a few days resting. Some may receive home health physical therapy prior to outpatient therapy, but others may be referred directly to an outpatient physical therapy clinic for post-operative care.
How much you can move around following surgery will be determined by your MD and your PT. Remember to listen to your doctor and your therapist! Your MD was just inside of your body… he or she knows how strong of a repair you have. And although this may be your first (or tenth) surgery, your PT sees this every day. Ask lots of questions, but listen to their advice and guidance.