Guest Author - Dr. Denise Howard
Once the surgery is over, what should you expect? This is one aspect of surgery that is often not discussed in great detail. It is however important so you can maximize recovery and minimize any risks to your health.
Immediately after surgery you should expect to be drowsy and you may not remember much from this day. This is due to the after effects of anesthesia and other medications given to manage pain and to prevent nausea. You may have a catheter in place to drain the bladder and stockings on your legs to prevent blood clots. This will limit your mobility and if you need to move make sure someone is present to assist you. Ideally, you should have a family member or trusted friend with you during this time to advocate on your behalf. This person should ask questions of the providers and make sure they know exactly what is being done to you. This is helpful in a number of ways and one example is preventing you from receiving treatments in error. For example, if you have an allergy to certain medications, your advocate can be present making sure this is not administered in error.
The catheter is usually removed within 12-24 hours after surgery. You may be allowed to consume liquids a few hours or 1 day after the surgery and mobility is encouraged. Ambulating and sitting up in a chair will improve circulation and respiration, decreasing the chance of clot development and pneumonia. Your diet maybe advanced if you tolerate the initial food and pain medicine is administered as needed. Most women are discharged to home within 1-3 days after surgery depending on the surgical route and the progress in activity.
At the time of discharge you will be given instructions about activity, diet, medication use, follow up, and when to seek emergent care. Take note of these instructions carefully and follow them closely. Early identification of problems leads to prompt treatment and timely resolution of complications. Surgical healing typically is complete in 6 weeks however the recovery is a process and you will gradually feel better. If you have any doubts, you should contact your provider to clarify your concerns.
You should return to see your surgeon for a postoperative visit. This typically occurs between 2-4 weeks after the surgery. At this visit the doctor will review your progress, address any concerns, check your surgical incisions and review the histopathology report if tissue was sent for examination. They will also give you any continued instructions, advise about return to normal activity and recommend any necessary follow up. This is your opportunity to ask questions. Make sure you understand the instructions and are clear on all of the items listed above. It is always a good idea to bring your spouse or a trusted family member or friend to make sure you understand everything that is said.
I hope this article has provided you with information that will help you make wise choices, so you may:
Live healthy, live well and live long!