What can you do to speed up recovery after undergoing abdominal surgery?

What can you do to speed up recovery after undergoing abdominal surgery?
December 6, 2013 12:27 PM

Every patient who undergoes abdominal surgery often has many concerns and questions about what to expect post-operation. If you’ve recently undergone one such procedure and you are confused about what you should, can or avoid doing, then have no worries about it, since in the paragraphs below all of your questions will be answered. By the end of the article, you'll know exactly what to do to speed up your abdominal surgery recovery and feel better in no time.

Prevent Infection

One of the most important and simplest things you can do after having abdominal surgery is to make sure that you prevent the chances of infection. You can do this by thoroughly washing your hands prior to touching your incision site. Forgetting to do so may result in an infection that can have severe consequences, so don't come in contact with the incision too often unless it's absolutely necessary.

Inspect Your Incision

While most people don't really like to look at their wounds, especially when it comes to an incision like this, you need to take a good look at it a few times a day. It's true that depending on the procedure you’ve undergone, it might not be possible to do this, but in the vast majority of cases you can easily inspect the surgical site by using a mirror. Take notice: 

  1. Is your incision red or pink?
  2. Is there any wound drainage and if so, what color is it?
  3. Are the staples or stitches intact?

These are very important questions you should ask yourself when inspecting your incision and they can help you determine whether the surgical site has become infected or it's healing properly.

Drink and Eat Properly

After having surgery, a lot of people don't really feel like eating or drinking anything, since they generally feel constipated and nauseated. However, it's important that you consider a healthy diet consisting of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meat (check with your surgeon on the types of foods you can eat) because doing is going to:

  1. Improve your immune system and promote healing, 
  2. Minimize the risk of complications. 
  3. Help you get past the side effects of anesthesia.

Just keep in mind that if your body isn’t getting the fuel it requires to get better, it's hard to heal after having surgery.

Cough and Sneeze Carefully

Who knew that sneezing and coughing the way you’ve done it your entire life is not recommended after having certain types of surgeries? It seems that when you have an abdominal incision, sneezing or coughing the wrong way can do you some serious harm. If you sneeze powerfully, then your incision can actually open and thus make you go through a lot of pain and complications. Therefore, be careful on how you sneeze and cough so you don't get to make things worse.

Prepare An After Surgery Kit For Your Bedside

A surgery kit is very important after having surgery and it should include chocolate candies (no joke), flavor packets for bottled water, anti-gas pills, mints and several rag magazines. You should also place your prescription medications in this kit, since this way you'll know where to reach when you need them.

Move Your Bed As Far As Possible From The Bathroom

While you may think that sleeping in the first few days after surgery is more comfortable, if you want to recover faster then you should consider walking in the room a bit. If you don't want to walk around in circles just because you have to, it's a good idea to have someone place your bed as far as possible from the door that leads to the bathroom. Walking is part of the recovery process and you should not avoid it, even if it's more comfortable to have your bed closer to the bathroom door.

No Matter How Good The Painkillers Make You Feel, Don't Do Any Housework

No matter how good you feel, it's important that you don't do any house chores at all. The majority of those who do this will eventually wake up the next day to an opened incision. Not only that, but in some cases this can also cause infections which are very hard to deal with, especially if you have a weak immune system. So basically, by doing house chores you will only get to do yourself more harm and your recovery time may even extend from six weeks for instance to twelve weeks.

Leave The Fiber Alone And Take A Mild Laxative Every Morning

If you’ve undergone abdominal hysterectomy, you know how much this can hurt and to make things worse, it also causes people to feel constipated. And while you may really want to have it, do anything you can in order to avoid eating fiber. This will only cause you to feel gassy and unable to pass it. If you're in a situation like this and don't know what to do, then make sure you get a strong stimulant laxative. This will help fight constipation and gas and thus you are going to feel better in no time.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

In case you had to undergo a complete abdominal hysterectomy, post surgery you'll need to consider hormone replacement therapy until the doctor releases you from his care. This is because there is no way you can compare surgical menopause to natural menopause: they are very different things. When you have this type of surgery, your body is practically forced to enter menopause. On the other hand, when it comes to natural menopause, it's a gradual reduction of hormones, such as estrogen, which eventually leads up to the cessation of your menstrual cycles. That is why if you don't want your body to be "shocked" by this sudden change, you need to consider this therapy which keeps the balance of hormones in your body even.

The abdominal surgery recovery is influenced by many factors, such as age, immune system and the diseases and\or conditions you suffer from. Therefore, it's really important that you do everything you can in order to speed up your recovery by eating healthy, avoiding physical effort and considering hormone replacement therapy.

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Written by: Michal Vilímovský (EN)
Education: Medical student, 3rd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Published: December 6, 2013 12:27 PM
Next scheduled update: December 6, 2015 12:27 PM
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