From prostate cancer surgery to vasectomies to adrenal mass removals, I’ve performed more surgeries than I can count. And after hundreds of hours spent in the operation room, I can read off post-surgery recovery tips like they’re imprinted on the back of my hand.
But no matter how many warnings surgeons give and informational pamphlets we hand out to our patients, there will still be patients who allow the information to go in one ear and right out the other. According to the CDC, post-operation infections average 500,000 per year, and between 40% and 60% of those infections could have been avoided.
If you want to avoid any post-surgery complications and achieve a speedy, safe recovery, take heed of the following tips:
1. Keep it clean—but don’t get carried away. Your doctor will instruct you on how to care for your particular incision, but in most cases, a little bit of soap and water is all you need to clean the area. Try to avoid peroxide or alcohol.
2. Only touch the incision when necessary. Avoid poking or prodding at your incision, or picking scabs off as it is healing. The only time you should have your fingers near the affected area is when you’re cleaning it.
3. Monitor the incision. Keep an eye on your incision to make sure it looks healthy and infection-free. If it starts to look infected, call your doctor immediately.
4. Drink and eat regularly. Though you may not be able to stand the sight of food after your procedure, staying hydrated and well nourished can play a key factory in your recovery.
5. Take it easy, but don’t stay bed-ridden. Obviously, you should try to refrain from participating in rigorous physical activity following your surgical procedure, but you don’t need to stay on the couch until you’re fully recovered. In fact, light exercise can be very beneficial to the recovery process.
6. Always follow your doctor’s instructions. As I can testify, no two surgeries—or patients for that matter—are alike. So while the recovery tips above may be appropriate for most patients, your doctor may have special instructions for you. Be sure to listen to him or her carefully and alert them if you have any questions or concerns.