Healing Abdominal Muscles After Surgery
If you’ve just undergone major surgery, the first thing that comes to mind is probably going home and recovering from all of those drugs they pumped into you. But what about the healing process? What’s happening inside your body during this time when you’re lying flat on your back?
The surgical site needs to heal properly after any type of operation because if not, infection can occur which could become very serious. For example, if there are sutures left open after an appendectomy or cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal), these wounds need to close up properly so as not to allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream through them. This is why most doctors prescribe antibiotics for at least one week following surgery. The same goes for patients who undergo colonoscopies, another common procedure where a tube is inserted down the patient’s throat, through their stomachs and into their intestines. Once inside, the scope is used to check out the intestinal tract for possible problems.
During recovery, most people want to get up and start moving again as soon as possible. However, getting up too quickly might cause complications since the wound area isn’t fully healed yet. In fact, it may take several weeks before the full strength and flexibility return to the abdominal muscles. These muscles, like other muscle groups, require ample rest to repair themselves completely. During this resting period, the wound begins to fill with fluid and blood that help keep everything underneath intact. It also gives scar tissue enough time to form strong connective tissues between the skin and underlying layers of flesh.
There are many different types of surgeries that involve cutting, burning or removing parts of the gastrointestinal tract. Each one has unique requirements regarding how much food to eat and when to eat it. Some operations call for liquid diets while others ask for nothing but clear liquids. There are even some cases where patients must stay put in bed for days. And don’t forget about your postoperative pain management plan! You’ll want to follow your doctor’s orders carefully.
Once you do begin eating solid foods again, you’ll likely notice that your belly feels bigger. This is normal, especially in the early stages of recovery when swelling occurs in both the upper and lower portions of the torso. As such, expect a little bit of bloating during the first few weeks. Your skin will also look puffy due to fluid buildup. Don’t worry; it will eventually subside.
As far as movement goes, your surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to exercise safely after surgery. Generally speaking, however, you should refrain from heavy lifting until your body heals completely. When doing exercises, always stop immediately if you experience sharp pains or feel weak. Also, never try to push yourself beyond your limits — the last thing you want to do is injure yourself further.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, you aren’t alone. Most people find it difficult to sleep deeply once they wake up again. Fortunately, your body does produce natural painkillers called endorphins that control feelings of discomfort. While taking medication for pain relief may seem more appealing, remember that overuse of powerful narcotics can lead to dependency whereas nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen tend to work better with less side effects.
Finally, don’t fret if you haven’t returned to work by now. Post-surgery recuperation times vary greatly depending upon the individual. Typically, it takes anywhere from six months to a year for someone to regain the ability to perform strenuous tasks without assistance. Of course, certain jobs simply won’t be available to you right away due to physical limitations. For instance, it may take several years before a person becomes qualified to drive a truck or operate machinery.
Now that you know what to expect during your recovery, read on for lots more helpful information.
Some specialists recommend wearing compression stockings after surgery. They claim that these garments increase circulation (which aids recovery) and reduce swelling (which helps the wound heal). Doctors typically advise using elasticized support hose that provide firm pressure on the legs and feet. Make sure to consult your physician regarding whether or not compression stockings are beneficial for you.
Your doctor will tell you exactly how long he thinks you’ll need to recover based on the type of surgery you’ve had. Here are some general guidelines for regaining strength and mobility:
Avoid sudden movements and twists. Just lie still until the pain subsides.
Restringing your belt provides extra support for your waistline.
Don’t lift anything above shoulder level.
Wear comfortable shoes.
When you sit, lean forward slightly to relieve tension on your back.
Lift objects slowly.
Exercising too often can actually hurt your healing process. Try walking briskly instead.
It is very important to drink plenty of fluids. Water is best, although milk, juice, coffee or tea can be taken in moderation.
Take vitamins and minerals daily to ensure proper health. Ask your doctor about the best ones for you.
You shouldn’t smoke during recovery. Smoking increases the risk of lung infections.
Don’t use aspirin or similar medications unless directed otherwise by your doctor.
Keep your head low to prevent injury.
Try to relax each day by reading or listening to music.
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