How to Survive After Hernial Anterior Cartilage (Hernia) Surgery?
The first thing you need to know before having any kind of surgery is how long it will take you to recover from the operation itself. You have been through a lot already, so you are not going to want to go through another ordeal. There are many factors that influence recovery time; however, there are some things that everyone needs to consider when planning their recovery period.
Your Body Weight
When you undergo surgery, your body weight may change. Your surgeon will weigh you beforehand to make sure that the procedure is safe for you. If your weight changes during the course of recovery, then it could affect your ability to walk or even get up from a lying position. For example, if you were previously 180 pounds and now weigh 160 pounds, then walking down stairs might become very difficult because of the extra strain placed on your back muscles.
You Should Rest Before Recovery Period Starts
Resting yourself before starting your recovery period will help with your overall health. You should avoid strenuous activities such as lifting heavy objects or doing physical labor until you feel well enough to resume them. Also, drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to keep your blood pressure normal and prevent dehydration. Avoid smoking cigarettes while recovering from surgery since they can cause irritation in the area where the incision was made.
The First Week of Post-Op
You will have to go home within a couple of days after the surgery and will be asked to take it easy for a week. Your incision may bleed or ooze puss during this period. You should get up and walk around for 10-15 minutes several times each day. You may also want to do gentle arm exercises during this time as well. After you have gotten up and moved around for a bit, you will want to apply an ice pack wrapped in a thin towel to your incision for about 20 minutes.
You should take pain medication as directed by your physician or use a non-prescription pain reliever such as ibuprofen.
Make sure that you are getting plenty of rest during this week. Avoid strenuous activity such as lifting heavy objects and walking long distances. You may be asked to return to the hospital for a check up during this week.
The Second Week of Post-Op
During this period, your body should start to recover from the surgery and you will feel more like yourself every day. You should be able to get out of bed and walk around more during this time without feeling pain or discomfort. Your incision should not be causing you any pain or discomfort either. If you are experiencing either of these symptoms, contact your physician immediately.
Make sure that you continue to drink plenty of fluids every day and take your pain medication as directed by your physician. If you no longer need the pain medication, then make sure that you are drinking enough so that you don’t get constipated. You may also experience some swelling in your arms during this period; however, it should go down eventually as long as you are moving around and not remaining in the same position for too long.
The Third and Fourth Weeks of Post-Op
During this period, your incision should be nearly healed. You will still want to take it easy during this time; however, you may feel up to doing more physical activities. It is best to start out slowly and then increase your level of activity as you feel comfortable. You may also return to work at this time unless your job is strenuous or requires heavy labor.
Make sure that you are drinking plenty of fluids every day. Continue to use your pain medication when needed, but remember that persistent pain may be a sign of a more serious problem so make sure that you contact your physician if you still have pain more than a few weeks after your procedure.
You should be able to resume your normal diet during this time; however, you should avoid consuming alcoholic beverages when you are taking pain medication.
The Full Recovery Period
By the time one month has passed since your surgery, you should be feeling much better. Keep in mind that some people may take longer to recover than others depending on various factors such as age and overall health.
Your incision may still be tender during this time or occasionally in the months following your procedure; however, you should not experience any major pain.
You may find that your clothing is fitting a little tighter as your stomach starts to get flabbier. This is a good incentive for you to start eating healthier and exercising in order to avoid a more serious weight problem.
Make sure that you continue to wear your support garment as directed by your physician.
You may return to your normal diet at this time; however, it is recommended that you stick to a healthy diet such as the “Food Pyramid.” This will also help you to get back in shape.
Avoid overdoing any physical activities such as lengthy walks or runs for a while. Instead, start out with something less strenuous such as walking around your block and then build up to more demanding exercise as your stamina and energy level improves.
You should return to your normal activities such as work or school within a week or two, but avoid any intensive activity such as running for a while.
It is best to make lifestyle changes during the early stages of recovery so that you can get back to your routine in good physical shape. If you have not experienced any complications, then you should be able to resume your sexual activities during this time. Just remember to take things slowly during the early stages.
The Long-Term Period
By six months after your procedure, you should be able to return to your normal lifestyle with few limitations. You may experience some occasional soreness, but this is normal and will typically go away in a day or two. This is due to the muscles being weakened as a result of the surgery.
You should continue to wear your support garment for added support for another six months after your procedure. Also, you should continue with your physical therapy exercises to strengthen your core abdominal muscles. If you are female, then you may need to continue with hormones until menopause occurs naturally or with the aid of hormone therapy if your body no longer produces the necessary hormones needed for natural menopause to occur.
You should continue to eat a healthy diet and engage in regular physical activity for the remainder of your life in order to avoid any complications that are typical with this type of surgery such as a hernia.
Check out this video for more info on hernia surgery recovery.
This is a list of exercises that you should avoid during the first few weeks after your procedure:
Sleeping on your stomach
Performing sit-ups, leg raises or any other abdominal exercise that involves pulling in your belly
Lifting heavy objects (anything that is heavier than 10 pounds)
Playing contact sports such as football, rugby, lacrosse, etc.
If you experience any of the following after your recovery, then call your physician immediately:
Bleeding that continues after ten minutes of direct pressure
Fever of 100 degrees or higher
Heavy pain that does not subside with the use of pain medication
Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or chest pain
What should I do to prepare for my hernia surgery?
It’s a good idea to make a list of questions that you want to ask your doctor during your pre-op appointment. This list will help you remember everything that you need to ask. Some questions you might want to include are:
What type of hernia do I have?
Should I take antibiotics before my surgery?
Do I need to stop taking any medications that I’m currently taking? If so, then what drugs should I stop taking and how long before my procedure should I stop taking them?
How soon after the procedure can I eat?
Will I experience any nausea, vomiting or diarrhea after my procedure?
Do I need to make any lifestyle changes after the procedure?
What types of physical activities should I avoid for six weeks after my hernia repair?
This list is not all-inclusive. You may have other concerns, so if you think of anything else, write it down. This will help you during your pre-op appointment.
Also, write down any questions that you want to ask during your appointment. This will help you avoid forgetting anything when you see the doctor.
What should I expect during my hernia surgery?
The surgery itself typically takes less than an hour to complete. During this time, a surgical technique called open surgery is used to repair the hernia. There are many different types of open surgeries that can be used. These include:
Open incision surgery: A small cut is made in your abdomen to expose the hernia. Next, the herniation is identified and repaired by either sewing the contents back into place or by using a piece of tissue to patch it. Once this is completed, the layers of the abdomen are sewn back together. Finally, the skin is stitched closed with stitches, staples or surgical glue.
Excisional surgery: The first step of this procedure is the same as open incision surgery. Next, a vertical incision is made over the hernia to expose it. Then, the fat and skin around the herniation are trimmed away. Once this has been completed, the healthy tissue is located under the herniation. This tissue will be used to patch the hernia.
The edges of the patch are then sewn to the edges of the herniation, and the surrounding tissue is sewn back together.
Endoscopic surgery: In this type of surgery, a thin tube called an endoscope is used to repair the hernia. The endoscope has a light and a camera attached to it so that your doctor can see what he is doing. First, your doctor will make a small cut in your abdomen to insert the endoscope. Then, the doctor should locate and identify the herniation. The herniation is then repaired using either sutures or a patch.
After the hernia has been repaired, the incision is closed with stitches or staples.
In today’s day and age, many doctors are using a minimally-invasive approach to perform hernia surgery. In this approach, special tools are used to access the hernia without having to cut open your abdomen. Instead, several small incisions are made in your abdomen to access the hernia and repair it.
Some common tools used for hernias include:
Endoscopic tools: These tools contain a tiny video camera and light, which are inserted into your body through a small incision. Using these tools, the surgeon should be able to see the hernia while working on it.
Robot-assisted tools: In this approach, a robot helps your surgeon locate and repair the hernia. The doctor will make a small incision in your abdomen to access the hernia with robotic tools. Finally, the surgeon takes over and repairs the hernia using these tools.
How do I prepare for my hernia operation?
Before your surgery can be scheduled, you need to have a pre-op appointment with the surgeon who will be performing the procedure. During this appointment, you will be asked many questions about your medical history. Your doctor will also perform a complete physical examination to ensure that the procedure is safe for you to undergo.
Your surgeon may request one or more of the following tests:
Laboratory tests: In this test, a sample of your blood, urine or tissue is collected and examined for health issues that may be present. These tests are usually used to assess your overall health and rule out any abnormalities that may place you at risk during the procedure.
Chemistry tests: In this test, a sample of your blood is collected and tested for its chemical make-up. A number of substances such as sodium, potassium, chloride, phosphate, carbon dioxide and glucose are routinely assessed. These tests are usually performed to ensure that your body is functioning properly and is able to heal itself after the surgery.
Urinalysis: In this test, a sample of your urine is collected and tested for abnormalities. A urinalysis can help detect infection, hypertension, diabetes or other conditions that may require medical attention.
EKG or ECG: In this test, electrodes (small pads) are attached to your chest and limbs to monitor the electrical activity of your heart. An electrocardiogram or ECG shows the rhythm and speed of heartbeats. The test is used to determine if there are signs of heart disease, such as an abnormal beat pattern or a rhythm that has been slowed or stopped.
What happens during the operation?
Your surgeon will make a number of cuts in your abdomen to access your hernia. Some of these incisions may be tiny, while others may be longer. The type of incisions that are made will be based on the type of hernia that you have and where it is located. The goal of these incisions is to access the hernia through a space that will allow the surgeon to make repairs and to close up the incision as quickly as possible.
After your abdomen has been cut open, your surgeon will expose the hernia. He or she will then repair the gap in the muscle wall. Many times, this can be done by holding the layers of the wall together with sutures. These sutures are tiny stitches that are typically absorbed by your body over time.
If more extensive repairs are required, your surgeon may use a patch to strengthen the wall and prevent the hernia from returning. The patch is typically made of synthetic material such as Dacron or Teflon. Occasionally, a piece of your own intestine may be used as a patch, as long as it won’t cause a problem.
The repair and any insertion of a patch is then reinforced with sutures before the layers of your abdomen are closed with stitches. The skin is then closed with staples, stitches or surgical adhesive.
The hernia is then repaired.
What happens after the operation?
You will probably be taken to the recovery room immediately after surgery, where your vital signs will be monitored and any pain or other symptoms will be treated. Your surgeon will visit you in the recovery room to assess your progress and keep family members informed about your condition.
If all is going well, you will be taken to a hospital room to continue your recovery. A nurse will arrive shortly after your arrival to give you pain medication and begin your discharge planning.
Your hospital stay will typically be from one to three days, although this time frame will vary depending on the specifics of your surgery and your personal health and recovery.
When it is time for you to go home, a nurse will give you discharge instructions along with any prescriptions your doctor has ordered. You may be able to go straight home after your doctor gives you the okay if your recovery is going well.
The time you need to spend at home will depend on your recovery. You might need to limit your activity, or you may need to keep the incision site dry for a period of time. Your doctor will recommend the treatment plan that is best for you.
While sitting around at home won’t be the most fun thing for you to do, you should try to rest as much as possible during this recovery period.
You Should Be Physically Active During Recovery
In addition to resting as much as possible, you should be sure to get up and move around every so often.
You might be surprised that moving around will actually help your body to heal faster than if you just sit in bed or on the couch all day.
While physical activity during your recovery period might seem like a bad idea, in reality it is an important part of your recovery. Being confined to bed rest has been shown to result in loss of muscle strength and other complications during recovery.
Appropriate physical activity during your recovery will actually improve your chances for a full and complete recovery.
Just be sure that any physical activity you do is at a comfortable level and doesn’t cause any pain or discomfort. Also make sure you get the go ahead from your doctor before doing any new physical activity.
Once you get the all clear from your physician, you can help your recovery along by doing some light exercise such as walking or lifting small hand weights.
Go Slowly During Your Recovery
It is important to remember that you still have major surgery behind you, and even if things are going well you are still at risk of experiencing complications such as internal bleeding or infection.
While your incision should heal fine without the need for a physical implant such as a mesh or patch, you still have an open wound that is at risk of becoming infected. You also have other internal organs that were accessed during your surgery that are all at risk of being attacked by potential infection as well.
Proper incision site care is extremely important, as well as taking any prescribed medication (such as antibiotics) exactly as directed.
Even if you don’t experience an infection, improper incision care can lead to your incision not healing properly. This can cause issues such as a visible scar (which will most likely be present no matter what you do), or in extreme cases, skin loss or other complications.
Your weight loss surgery is done, and you are on the road to recovery.
Was it worth it?
That depends on your outlook.
A lot of people have found that after the fact they aren’t happier, more satisfied or more anything than they were before. While this is true for some people, it isn’t true for everyone.
For you, while you won’t be jumping for joy, you do feel like this was the right decision and you are glad you decided to do this.
You’ve taken the first step on your road to recovery. Just one more step and you will be back to enjoying food again.
Except now your food will be a lot healthier than it was before.
Your weight loss surgery journey has just begun, but you are confident that you made the right decision for you!
Your next step is to continue to take care of yourself as you go through your recovery. You will want to keep eating nutritious foods and doing whatever physical activity you are comfortable with.
If you are comfortable with it, try walking around your neighborhood. If you can walk around the block once, try to walk it twice the next day. Soon enough, you will be able to walk around the block without getting winded or hurting anywhere.
Continue doing this until you can walk for 30 minutes or more without any discomfort.
If walking is not for you, there are other activities such as running, cycling, swimming or even aerobic classes. Talk to your doctor about what you should and shouldn’t do as far as physical activity.
Continue following up with your doctors and try to live each day at a time. Things will get better in time, but it takes some people longer than others to accept their situation.
You did the best thing for you, and that’s what really matters.
Good luck on your weight loss surgery journey!
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Information needs of general day surgery patients by C Bradshaw, C Pritchett, C Bryce, S Coleman… – … surgery, 1999 – Elsevier
Postoperative sexual functioning in total versus subtotal laparoscopic hysterectomy: what do women expect? by S Berlit, S Lis, S Jürgens, O Buchweitz… – Archives of gynecology …, 2017 – Springer
Ventral hernia surgery in morbidly obese patients, immediate or after bariatric surgery preparation: results of a case-matched study by MM Chandeze, D Moszkowicz, A Beauchet… – Surgery for Obesity and …, 2019 – Elsevier
Sexual dysfunction after prostatectomy by JW Bolt, C Evans, VR Marshall – British journal of urology, 1987 – Wiley Online Library