Before and After Surgery – Be Proactive in Your Own Recovery

Surgery of any kind can be a frightening experience. From having a tooth surgically removed to any type of major surgery, there is always a possibility of post-operative complications. Your doctor will explain any risk factors and will also tell you what to do in the days or hours leading up to the surgical procedure, but it is up to you to follow those instructions. Also, there are other things you can do both before and after surgery if you want to be proactive in your recovery.

1. Before and After Prevention of Infections

Most people are given explicit instructions on wound care after a surgery to prevent infections at the site, however, did you know there are things you can do prior to surgery as well? Bathing is of extreme importance just prior to being admitted because of the billions of microorganisms living on the skin and in the air, which can cause an infection. It only takes one bacteria to infiltrate the incision and within hours there can be millions – they multiply that fast.

Did you know that surgical technicians are responsible for making sure the operating room, all surgical utensils and anything else in the room is kept sanitized and/or sterilized? They studied for certification at schools like those found on the website and a key component of their studies is to prevent infection. You also may not know that most cases of MRSA are transmitted in a hospital or clinical setting. Before entering the hospital, bathe well and follow wound care instructions exactly as they are given.

2. Prevention of Muscle Weakness and Atrophy

Anyone who has ever had major surgery knows just how painful the hours and days after surgery can be. All you want to do is take one more pain pill and go back to sleep. BIG MISTAKE! If you lie there too long, your muscles will weaken. You know that after sitting for an extended period, you have to stretch and walk a bit because your muscles just don’t want to obey. Now imagine what it will be like lying in a bed for several days, or longer! As soon as the doctors say it’s safe to move around, even to sit up, it is in your best interest to do so. Lying in bed too long can also result in atrophy, which you really don’t want to deal with, so get up and get moving.

You can do simple exercises like rolling your feet, lifting your arms, rotating your head from the neck, but the best exercise is walking. Even if you need the assistance of a walker for the first little bit after surgery, use it. Walking not only helps to keep any muscles affected by surgery strong, it also helps to prevent pneumonia, a common complication in many surgeries. Remember, when you are put under general anesthesia, your lungs are relaxed, and your respiration is shallower. Walking and a bit of exercise can also keep the blood circulating better to help prevent clots, which are always a possibility with any surgery.