Have you recently had surgery or are you planning to have surgery? You may be concerned about the surgery itself and what recovery will be like after surgery. Recovery time can range from a few weeks to months. Surgery is not necessarily anyone’s first choice, but if it is unavoidable, there are steps you can take to speed up your recovery.

Post surgery tips

Surgery can be a major or temporary upset in your life and affect you in unpredictable ways. The impact on your functional abilities, your independence in performing everyday tasks, or a long and painful recovery may feel like your life and lively-hood are on hold. 

The general objectives of post-operative rehabilitation are to:

  • Set achievable recovery goals
  • Decrease pain
  • Encourage wound healing and minimize scarring
  • Improve movement
  • Restore functionality
  • and regain independence in all your activities 

8 ways to improve your recovery 

An excellent starting point for your recovery journey is your discharge instructions. Read them carefully, make sure you understand every word, and call your healthcare provider if you have questions. In the meantime, these 8 post-surgery tips should serve you well and assist you to heal quickly and safely. 

  1. Follow your Doctor’s instructions and keep your follow-up appointments – some instructions may be inconvenient or seem unnecessary, but your doctors have expertise and experience that you may not have. Their instructions are in your best interest.

You may be feeling better and think your wound is healing well, and a follow-up appointment seems like an unnecessary expense, but your doctor may be watching for signs and symptoms you are not aware of, or your medication dosage may need to be adjusted. 

  1. Prevent infection by caring for your incision correctly – preventing infections is crucial for an excellent outcome of your procedure. Wash your hands before touching the incision and keep the area dry and clean. Infections at the surgical site are rare and usually occur within 30 days of the procedure but knowing what to look out for is important. Is it pink or red? Is there drainage? What colour is the fluid? Are your staples or stitches intact? Knowing the answers will help you know when to contact your doctor if something is wrong.

Do not overdo it when trying to keep your incision clean. Do not try to scrub the area, remove scabs, or use harsh cleaners such as alcohol or peroxide. Unless your surgeon has specifically told you to do so, washing the incision site with soap and water will be sufficient. 

  1. Drink and eat properly – after surgery, you may lose your appetite, feel nauseous, or be constipated. However, if you continue to drink enough fluids and eat a healthy, balanced diet, this will promote healing and minimize common complications. Your body needs fuel to get better. 
  1. Be careful when sneezing, coughing or lifting heavy objects – abdominal incisions are fragile and can be injured and reopen if you sneeze or cough violently or over exert yourself by picking something heavy up. If you feel a sneeze or cough coming on, brace yourself by gently applying pressure to your incision site. Some pain is to be expected but if your stitches have come loose, or if you have any bleeding or excessive pain in the area, contact your doctor immediately. 
  1. Know when to go to the emergency room – changes to your incision such as bleeding or excessive redness and swelling could be a sign that it has reopened or become infected. If an infection is left untreated, it can be fatal. Other signs of infection include difficulty breathing, vomiting, and difficulty urinating. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek immediate and urgent medical attention. 
  1. Control your pain – white-knuckling through excruciating pain is unnecessary. Fear of becoming dependent on painkillers is not uncommon but your doctor will monitor your medications and adjust accordingly. If you have struggled with dependency or addition in the past, discuss this with your surgeon first before making unilateral decisions. Some pain after surgery is to be expected, but unbearable pain can actually hinder your recovery. For example, if you cannot cough because of the pain, it can lead to pneumonia, and if you cannot walk, you are at higher risk for blood clots. If you take your prescribed dose at the prescribed times, you will manage the pain and remain able to function. 
  1. Get moving – gentle walking after surgery is usually recommended by surgeons. Unless your doctor orders complete bed rest, you should get moving as soon as possible after surgery. A short walk every one to two hours can help prevent serious complications such as deep vein thrombosis (blood clots) and pneumonia. Improved blood circulation promotes healing at your incision site and helps you return to your normal activities more quickly. Do not overdo it by returning to intense physical activity or gym training until your doctor has given their approval. 
  1. Rehabilitation – knowing what to do after surgery can be daunting. How do you reduce pain? What will speed up your recovery? What should you be eating? What exercises will restore function and improve mobility? What is the wrong thing to do? So many questions that could be answered by a therapist who specializes in treating post-operative patients. Sometimes seeking help from a professional will give you the best chance of healing quickly and safely.


The Back Clinic is leading the charge in post-surgery functional rehabilitation through their Document-Based (DBC) program, consisting of a 12-week program, with noticeable results in just 3 sessions. This is a multidisciplinary approach and affordable treatment plan that is covered by a vast selection of medical aids. 


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