The Importance of Following Post-Hernia Surgery Care Instructions
A hernia is a weakness in your abdominal wall that causes a hole to open within your muscle and allows internal structures to protrude through the hole in your muscle. Hernias typically grow, causing pain or obstructions, which means that almost all hernias eventually require a bariatric surgeon to repair them. Your surgeon will advise you on the proper surgical technique needed to repair your hernia based on the type and size of hernia you have.
Once your surgeon has successfully performed the surgery and you are on the road to recovery, you will be given instructions for post-hernia surgery care. It is essential to follow those instructions to help you along your recovery journey and to help you avoid a recurrence of the hernia.
What Is Post-Operative Care for a Hernia?Post-operative care for a hernia repair varies slightly depending on the type and severity of the hernia. You should expect your practitioner to make recommendations based on your individual case. However, some practices are standard.
1. Follow-up Appointments: In most cases, you will see your surgeon within two weeks of your surgery to ensure that your incision is healing properly and there are no complications such as infection. If you have a particularly complicated case, you may be required to schedule additional follow-up appointments or be seen sooner than two weeks post-op.
2. Light Activity: You should not return to light activity until you’ve had your first follow-up appointment. You should also be careful to lift no more than 10 pounds during the first few weeks of recovery. Your first follow-up appointment will determine how long you are restricted to that weight limit and light activity.
3. Strenuous Activity: Usually, healthcare providers recommend waiting at least six weeks before returning to any form of strenuous activity, including strenuous exercise. They are particularly concerned with heavy lifting after abdominal surgery, as lifting heavy objects can reopen the site of the hernia. It’s important to wait until you have clearance from your healthcare provider before you begin more strenuous activity at home or work. In some cases, recovery can take as long as six months before patients are cleared for more normal activities.
4. Pain Management: One issue many patients have following hernia repair surgery is pain and discomfort. Some patients may be prescribed medication for pain management, especially in the early stages of recovery. Others may be told to manage pain with over-the-counter medications; others may manage their pain and discomfort without any medication, opting instead for methods such as distraction or guided imagery for pain management. It’s important to communicate your pain level and how you are dealing with it honestly with your healthcare provider because too much pain can be a sign that something else is wrong.
5. Emotional Challenges: Some patients experience emotional changes following surgery. Reported emotions range from sadness and irritability to depression. Being honest about your feelings with your friends and family is essential. If you feel that your friends and family aren’t providing enough support, you can also speak to professionals.
6. Wound Care: Properly caring for your wound will help ensure proper healing. Step one to caring for your wound is to ensure your hands are thoroughly clean and sanitized before you touch the area near your wound. Doing this helps to ward off infection. Shower as your physician recommends, and only change your bandages as your doctor recommends. You will likely see small amounts of drainage on your bandages, but you should call your doctor if you see blood on the bandage. If your wound is closed with Steri-Strips or glue, allow it to fall off on its own. Be sure to keep your wound out of direct sunlight, but don’t wear clothing that is too tight.
Why Is it Important to Walk After Hernia Surgery?While rest is an important part of recovery after any surgery, walking is essential to recovery and reducing complications after hernia surgery. Walking helps rebuild muscle strength. In addition to getting your heart pumping and your blood flowing to the surgery site, which promotes healing, walking helps your internal organs move back to their proper places.
You will likely be required to walk before being discharged from the hospital following surgery. Start slowly, and keep a comfortable pace as you begin your walking routine. Don’t hesitate to stop or sit if you begin to feel tired or unsteady on your feet. You certainly don’t want to fall when you’ve just had surgery.
What Should I Be Careful of After Hernia Surgery?Proper wound care and exercise are essential to proper healing. Some things should be avoided after hernia surgery to keep your wound from getting infected and ensure proper healing. One thing to avoid following surgery is submersion in water. This is to help prevent infection.
Avoid heavy lifting or strenuous exercise until your doctor has cleared you for such activity. Lifting something too heavy too quickly can reopen the hernia or tear your incision. Your physician will give you explicit instructions on how much weight you can lift, push, pull, or carry and when; follow those instructions explicitly.
You should notify your doctor immediately if you experience new or worsening pain, a fever over 101, pain that persists without relief, vomiting, swelling around your incision, redness around your incision, bleeding or excessive drainage from your incision, severe abdominal pain, or you haven’t had a bowel movement within two to three days of having surgery. These symptoms are signs of possible infection. If you notice any other unusual symptoms, you should call your doctor.
A hernia is a condition that requires surgical repair. Proper healing depends on following your doctor’s surgery after-care instructions. You must follow the doctor’s instructions precisely to avoid infection and reoccurrence of the hernia. Please contact Dr. Alvaro Garcia for more information about hernia repair surgery and after-care in South Florida.