How to Have a Successful Recovery
Your Designated Caregiver
You will need an adult to be able to discuss your postoperative care instructions with the doctor or nurse before you leave the surgical facility. They will drive you home and stay with you for at least 24-48 hours after surgery.
Ask your caregiver to come to at least one of your preop visits so they understand their role in your recovery. It is often very difficult for patients who do not have an informed and helpful caregiver, and you may end up having to return to the hospital.
Your caregiver may need to drive you somewhere in case of an emergency or to pick up additional prescriptions or supplies for you if necessary.
Your caregiver should have a natural nursing personality. They must be prepared to sit at your bedside, feed you, help you to the bathroom and take care of personal hygiene. They should feel comfortable changing your surgical dressings and possibly emptying and recording surgical drain output. They may need to help you if you become nauseous.
Your caregiver should keep track your medications and make sure you take them as directed to ensure your pain is controlled. They should make sure you are getting enough fluids and food intake.
You caregiver must feel comfortable calling the doctor if they are concerned about something and be able to explain your symptoms and status.
Consider hiring a private nurse or staying overnight at the hospital if you do not have someone identified as your home “nurse”. Cost is around $600.00 to stay the first night at the hospital.
Arrange to sleep on the main floor near a bathroom and kitchen. If you are on the second level it is just harder for the caregiver to run up and down tending your needs and for you to ambulate.
Consider renting a hospital bed for your main level if all bedrooms are upstairs. These beds have electric controls to raise and lower the head of the bed.
Sleeping in a recliner is a good option for tummy tuck patients. Make sure you do not stay in one position too long, and try to move your legs often.
Consider renting or buying a walker if having major abdominal surgery like a tummy tuck or panniculectomy. This gives you a bit more independence and a safer way to move around.
Your Diet and Nutrition
Stock up ahead of time on easy foods such as popsicles, broth, soups and juice, ice cream, gelatin, pudding, crackers. Your caregiver may need to hand feed you to make sure you are getting enough nutrients and liquids. Protein shakes are another good and nutritious option. Fluid intake is very important. Oral medications can be nauseating, so make sure you always try to eat something light when taking them.
Vitamins: Although you should stop taking vitamins about five days preop, they are great to take in the weeks leading up to that, and also after surgery. I recommend a multivitamin with minerals such as Centrum Silver.
Seriously, constipation is a given after major surgery. I HIGHLY recommend you start stool softeners five days in advance and begin drinking lots of fluids at least 24hour preop. Consider taking antacids such as Pepcid or Zantac three days preop to help with post op nausea. Make sure you have natural remedies at home such as prune juice.
Postop nausea is quite common and can make you miserable. Discuss with the surgeon what types of nausea meds you may want/need. People who get motion sickness easily seem to have the most problems with nausea after surgery. There are several different types of nausea meds we can prescribe Even regular Dramamine can work!
Other Ways to Prepare
Prepurchase extra gauze and bandages, rubbing alcohol and cotton balls, bandaids, ice packs.
Arrange for childcare in advance. Hospital schedules are unpredictable, and you may not get home in time to pick up the children after you’ve been at the hospital all day in surgery. You will not likely feel like parenting for a day or two since you will be taking care of yourself. You may need help for smaller children. You will not be able to drive for a while, so make sure to plan for someone to take your kids to school or other activities if necessary.
Prefill all your prescriptions. Make sure the caregiver understands the schedule on which they are to be given and doesn’t let your pain and/or nausea get out of control. You may need to set an alarm for the nightime.
Get the necessary paperwork in advance from our office if you will need this to return to work.
Have fresh linens to sleep on after surgery. If a pet normally sleeps in your bed or on your furniture, clean all of these areas. Try to have your pet sleep elsewhere besides in bed with you while your wound is fresh to avoid any additional risk of infection.
You cannot drive until you are no longer taking any narcotic pain medications and you feel comfortable getting in and out of your car on your own. For minor surgery patients this may be 3-5 days; for tummy tuck patients this may be up to two weeks.
Getting Back to Normal
Returning to exercise varies depending on the procedure. Usually walking is all that’s allowed in the first couple of weeks. Make sure to ask your surgeon ahead of time or at one of your first followup visits what type of exercise you will be able to do and when.
After Breast Implant surgery, you will go home in a surgical bra. This will be fine for the first week or so. After that, I like patients to wear a tight-fitting sports bra, like the “Knockout” from Victoria’s Secret, for as many hours of the day as possible. I will help you determine your proper size at your first or second post op visit.
Don’t expect too much of your body at first. Take the time off work that is recommended. Even working from home is difficult if attempted too early. You will have a safer and faster recovery if you take it easy and give your body time to heal.
Your final results will not be evident for 2-3 months or more after surgery. Make sure you keep your expectations realistic.
Contact us today with any questions.