5 tips for recovery after gynaecological surgery
Every day many women are having gynaecological surgery, may that be an excision of adhesions for endometriosis or a hysterectomy due to fibroids or heavy bleeding. Having a surgery can be daunting and scary, so I thought this blog could help take away some of the unknown and let you know what kind of things you will and won’t be able to do after surgery, and how to get back into life with minimal pain and as safely as possible.Having a surgery can be daunting and scary. #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet
When I worked on the surgical ward at Pindara Private Hospital, I was seeing women after gynaecological surgeries. These were mainly; hysterectomies (with or without conservation of ovaries), excision of adhesions, prolapse repair surgeries and then the bigger surgeries for cancer, which often were more complex. Every woman was very individual in how she responded to being under anaesthetic and to how she felt; but this blog will outline some of the things you can do to make your recovery as easy as possible.
- Being under anaesthetic and then laying in bed (more often than you normally would in daily life) can slow down your bowels and cause constipation. It is really important not to be constipated post surgery because it is very difficult and painful to push down to pass a bowel motion. In hospital they will offer you stool softeners (often Metamucil or Movicol) which help get your bowels moving and make them soft for when you do need to pass a bowel motion, so it is a good idea to take these. Drinking water is another important thing for this, because the stool softeners do not work without adequate fluid intake.
- The easiest way to get out of bed is with a log roll. Getting out of bed for the first time is the scariest, but once you have been up and had a shower for the first time – every time you get out of bed after that gets easier and easier. A log roll is when you bend your knees, roll completely onto your side, and then use your arms to push up to get out of bed. This means you will use your arms to push and your legs as a lever, therefore your abdominal muscles do not need to do anything and there will be minimal pressure on your wound/s.The easiest way to get out of bed after surgery is with a log roll #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet
- Try to do a few small walks – it is best to do these at first with the physio or with a loved one just so they can stay with you in case you feel light headed or want to return to bed, it is nice to have the confidence of someone being with you. Doing small walks helps get the blood circulating throughout your body, reduce your risk of DVT, and help you get used to moving for when you go home. Even if it is just 10m, a small walk is more beneficial than laying in bed (this is unless you have low blood pressure or low haemoglobin – you will be instructed if you need to stay laying down)
- If you have stairs a home, this is nothing to fret about. The main thing you want to do is TAKE IT SLOW. After surgery, there is no rush, so when doing stairs, try taking it just one stair at a time, and use your hand rail. There is not a concern that walking stairs will affect your wound or surgery site, but they are very fatiguing. Some people will choose to stay in a bedroom on the bottom floor, or have someone at home to help so they do not need to keep going up and down stairs throughout the day.
- Depending on whether you had laparoscopic or open surgery, there are different restrictions on when to return to exercise. It also depends what type of exercise you like to do. The best recommendation is that you can start walking as soon as you like, start with short walks and slowly build them into longer times as your body and fatigue allows. At your post-op review with your surgeon, they will be able to give you more specific guidelines as to when to return to your sport (eg running and heavy weights will require a bit more time than going back to 2kg arm weights at the gym).
Having surgery can be daunting, I hope these tips have taken some of the fear away. For any further questions, please feel free to email me.
Emily Georgopolous (APAM)
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