October 20, 2017

Patient Education

Post-Operative Surgery

General Activity
It will take some time to feel completely normal, depending on the specific procedure that you had. Recovery is a gradual process, and each day should improve. It is very important to understand that your body uses a great deal of energy to heal, and as a result it is normal to feel more tired than usual and crucial that you get enough rest. Strenuous activity, such as exercise and heavy lifting, should be avoided in the immediate time after surgery.

Walking is the best exercise, and when you go home, it is good to be up for several hours a day; we suggest that you be up for awhile, take a rest, and repeat. Being up for very long stretches of time will probably cause you to feel worse, not better. Go easy on stair climbing, and limit it to only what is necessary in you home. You should not drive a car until you are off prescription pain medication and able to wear a seat belt without discomfort. Your doctor will tell you when you need to come back to the office.

Care of Your Incision
When you go home, your incision(s) will most likely have the edges glued or taped together, but not yet be healed over. Your doctor will tell you what you need to do care for it. In general, shower every day, using a mild soap over the incision(s) to keep the skin clean. Pat dry and be gentle. It is ok to cover your incision(s) loosely for your comfort. Unless your doctor recommends it, there is no need to use antibiotic ointment. There is no need to “pick at” any crust or scab that forms; this is a normal process, and picking may cause it to become infected. If you have a bigger incision, you may wear an abdominal binder or band for additional support.

Vaginal Discharge
After certain types of surgery, including a hysterectomy, it is very normal to have either vaginal bleeding or vaginal discharge. If there is a foul, pus-like smell or if you have a temperature greater than 100.4, you need to contact your doctor. If you are on birth control, your doctor will tell you when to take it. If you are soaking a pad in an hour or less, for more than a couple of hours, please contact your doctor. Do not use tampons unless specifically approved by your doctor; stick to pads or liners. Typically, light bleeding or discharge will resolve within 1-3 weeks. Absolutely no douching unless you have been instructed to do so.

Pain Control
By the time you go home, your pain should be fairly well controlled with oral pain medication. You still may require a prescription, which your doctor will give you. You can also use a heating pad on low or take warm showers (not baths). As you feel better and better, you may transition to over-the-counter pain medication. If you have had a vaginal procedure and there is external discomfort, you may use Tucks hemorrhoid pads on the outside of your vagina and/or do sitz baths (3-4 inches of warm water in the tub, flowing, for 10-15 minutes) at home. You may wash your hair at any time. Again, do not take tub baths unless approved by your doctor.

Bowel Movements
If you had to do a bowel prep (clean out) before surgery, it is very common for it to take 2-3 days before you need to go again. Also, if you are taking any narcotic pain medication (like Lortab or Percocet) it may slow down your bowels and you may add a stool softener like Colace. Drink lots of water, try and eat foods with fiber, and don’t try to force it. If you are able to eat without nausea and vomiting, and you are passing gas from below, you will eventually have a bowel movement. If nothing has happened in 4-5 days, please contact your doctor for instructions. Do not use any type of rectal suppository or enema unless your doctor has okayed it, but it is ok to use a mild laxative like Miralax or Milk of Magnesia.

Sexual Intercourse
Do not have sex until after your first post-operative visit, unless your doctor has specified otherwise.

Warning Signs
Please call if you are having a temperature greater than 100.4, severe chills, persistent burning with urination or frequent urination, heavy vaginal bleeding, dizziness or fainting, redness, swelling or pus from your incision(s), or any other concerns.