If you're preparing for an operation, it's understandable to want the best possible outcomes. The good news is, there is a lot you and our medical team can do to ensure your recovery goes as smoothly and efficiently as possible!
Keep reading for our five top tips for enhanced recovery after surgery.
1. Listen to Your Doctor
Your doctor's orders after surgery shouldn't be taken lightly. After all—they are there to help you recover. Skipping or disregarding directions may lead to a prolonged, more difficult journey back to health and could result in increased pain, more time out of work, or costly complications.
Remember: your doctor is a collaborative partner in your health. Don't hesitate to ask clarifying questions if you're confused about any instructions, and keep all your notes, prescriptions, and instructions organized.
2. Eat a Healing Diet
Did you know nutritional status is the single most important predictor of surgical outcomes? This means that the food you eat matters at literally every step of your surgical journey—from pre-op appointments to post-op follow-ups.
Of course, pain from your surgery and certain medications may suppress your appetite. But eating—and eating well—is extremely important. That's because your body requires a wide range of nutrients to promote tissue and wound healing, reduce inflammation, support your immune system, and enhance muscle and bone strengthening.
With your doctor's or dietitian's input, be sure to maintain a diet that is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats and carbohydrates. Find these nutrients in foods like:
- Fish, eggs, poultry, and lean cuts of meat
- Fruits and vegetables
- Legumes, nuts, and seeds
- Whole grains
In the meantime, be sure to minimize or eliminate highly processed and refined foods, as well as alcohol. These can promote inflammation and weight gain, and they lack the nutrients your body needs to heal. Alcohol also interacts with many medications, which can be hazardous to your health and safety.
3. Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is an irreplaceable component of health and wellness. Sleep is also essential for wound healing and tissue repair. According to the Sleep Foundation, poor sleep can even worsen inflammation and pain—the exact opposite of what you want after surgery!
To optimize your body's healing and speed your recovery, be sure to practice good sleep habits so that you can get your much-needed rest. The National Institute on Aging recommends a number of healthy strategies, like:
- Keeping a consistent schedule that gets you 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night
- Having a relaxing nighttime routine
- Dimming the lights about an hour before bedtime
- Keeping phones, televisions, and tablets out of the bedroom
4. Get Moving
After surgery, it's important to get up and move around as soon as your doctor says it's safe for you to do so. Even gentle physical activity like walking or moving from a bed to a chair can help control swelling and pain, improve circulation, prevent post-surgical complications, and boost your morale.
Depending on the type of surgery you have, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist who can help you increase your activity safely, show you how to use adaptive equipment like a walker or crutches, and initiate an exercise program for continued recovery at home.
5. Make Your Follow-Up Appointments
After your surgery, your doctor will likely schedule one or some follow-up appointments to monitor your progress periodically. These follow-up visits are intended to help reduce the risk of complications and prevent infections. They also give your doctor a chance to adjust your medications and advance any activity restrictions you may have. Follow-ups can also help you clarify your expectations and understand when you can return to work or sport.
The bottom line: don't skip your follow-up appointments! They keep you and your surgical team on the same page and ensure your recovery goes well.
Want More Information?
At Prime Surgical Suites, we provide state-of-the-art, cost-effective musculoskeletal surgical care in a convenient and comfortable outpatient setting for patients of all ages. Located in RiverCrest Medical Park, we are the region's first outpatient center focused exclusively on orthopedics. Our physician-led center will help restore your active lifestyle and well-being with compassion and orthopedic excellence.