If at any point during your surgery recovery you experience one, or more, of the following symptoms, please contact your physician immediately as it could be a sign of infection.
•A fever higher than 101 degrees
•Milky drainage from the wound, which may be gray, green or yellow in color
•Reddening of the skin around the incision
•Any other concerns for infection
If the symptoms are serious, please go to the emergency room immediately, and be sure to also contact your surgeon as soon as possible.
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General Surgery Frequently Asked Questions
What should you expect after abdominal surgery?
Following abdominal surgery, you must accomplish three things to be released:
Have pain under control with oral pain medicine.
Return of normal bowel function (in order to help facilitate the process, chewing gum may be brought for use after surgery, as it may help bowels awaken faster).
The ability to stay hydrated without IV fluids.
Day of Surgery:
Following surgery the nursing staff will help you reach a chair, as it is very important for you to sit down.
If possible, you should walk in the hallway as well and you will have compression cuffs on your legs, in order to maintain proper blood flow.
Use your incentive spirometer (a medical device to help improve function of the lungs), performing 10 reps every hour.
You will be allowed to sip clear liquids, however please stop if you feel full, become nauseated or start belching.
1 Day After Surgery:
You will spend most of your day sitting in a chair, however you should try to walk 3 – 5 times. This will help to relieve muscle spasms and help circulate the blood in your legs after lying in bed.
Continue 10 reps every hour on your incentive spirometer.
Clear liquids, as tolerated, should still be your diet and you will most likely be taken off IV fluids. You may continue to chew gum throughout the day.
If you have a catheter in your bladder, it will likely be removed today, and you should try to urinate as soon as possible once it is removed.
If you are a diabetic, it is important to be aware of your blood sugar and keep it less than 180 to prevent surgical complications.
2 Days After Surgery:
You may be advanced to a regular diet today if you are able to tolerate clear liquids - remember to still eat slowly and stop eating when you are full.
If you have a dressing in place, that will come off today. Keep your incision clean and dry, and do not shower yet.
Continue to walk 3-5 times a day, while sitting the rest of the time, and use your incentive spirometer.
You may receive oral pain medications today. You should take your medications every opportunity to prevent falling behind on your pain control.
If not stopped already, your IV fluids will be stopped and your catheter in your bladder removed today if not previously done.
3 Days After Surgery:
Continue to walk and use your incentive spirometer as directed.
You may have a regular diet and oral pain medication added today if not previously added.
If you have normal bowel function, you may be able to go home today.
What should you expect after being discharged from the hospital?
After returning home, your incision should be kept clean and dry. Showering is OK, as long as you do not have a drain in place, however please refrain from tub baths, swimming or submersion for 1 week.
If you have white strips on your incision you may remove these in 1 week or when they start to appear dirty.
Continue to walk daily and use your incentive spirometer as directed.
No lifting more than 5lbs for 6 weeks unless told otherwise by your physician.
To help reduce pain, you may take 400 mg of Motrin by mouth every 6 hours, with food, if you have no history of ulcers or kidney disease.
Your bowel movements may be variable after surgery and you may have been prescribed a stool softener. It is important to take your stool softener if you are taking a narcotic to avoid constipation. Additionally, you may have loose stools, which should start to firm up over the next week. If you develop worsening diarrhea or fever with your loose stools, please contact your physician immediately. You should also contact your physician for any redness, purulent (milky) drainage, concern for infection, vomiting or diarrhea.
After two weeks, you will typically have a follow-up appointment.
What can you do prior to a surgery to improve outcomes?
You should eat a healthy diet with an emphasis on protein.
If you have been experiencing significant weight loss you may supplement your diet with a nutritional supplement, such as an over the counter protein supplement, and a multivitamin.
If you are diabetic, you should keep you glucose controlled.
You should walk 30 minutes daily to improve your stamina.
If you smoke or drink alcohol, you should make every effort to stop or cut back as much as possible (ask your physician for help with smoking or alcohol cessation if needed).
To help prevent surgical site infections, use Hibiclens soap, or an equivalent, to clean your operative site and please avoid shaving the operative site.
What should you expect after surgery resulting in an ostomy?
Following your surgery, you will be at high risk for dehydration.
You may have variable output from your stoma and should measure your stoma output daily. If you have more than 1,000 ml of measured output, or empty your stoma bag more than 5 times per day, you should contact your physician.
A home health caregiver will assist with you stoma teaching and pouching, and if you develop trouble pouching your stoma, you should contact your physician immediately.
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