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Streamlining Recovery After Surgery

May 22nd, 2018

If you or a loved one has an upcoming surgery, it’s natural to wonder about the recovery process. The length of your recovery period depends on several things including the type of surgery and your individual condition prior to the procedure. Although every surgery and situation is different, there are things you can do to aid in your body’s healing process. 

Follow these simple tips to keep your recovery on course. 

1. Go confidently into your procedure.

People who are educated about their upcoming surgery do better in recovery. By understanding what’s going to happen before, during and after your surgery helps you be more relaxed and confident. Learn all you can by asking questions until you understand the whole process – including how your team of healthcare professionals will work with you to promote fast healing. 

2. Address your addictions. 


There’s never a better time to quit smoking than today! Stopping smoking before surgery translates to immediate improvements in lung function and helps wounds heal faster. Even stopping one week before surgery can make a difference! The same goes for alcohol. People who drink heavily before surgery (defined as more than two drinks a day) are more than twice as likely to die in the month afterwards compared to people who don’t drink. 

Being honest with your physician about your smoking or alcohol use and ask them for help in making these very important lifestyle changes.  

3. Follow doctor’s orders. 

It might sound simple, but there’s a reason your doctor has prescribed a specific regimen for you after surgery. Doctors don’t give instructions without a reason – so following orders about activity, resting, driving, lifting and more can mean the difference between a normal recovery or one that could result in infections or excessive bleeding. 

4. Nourish with healthy foods. 

Even though you might not feel like eating after surgery, it’s important to stay hydrated and eat healthful foods to keep your recovery from stalling. Choosing the right foods after any surgical procedure can promote healing and minimize inflammation and swelling and bruising. Your digestive system may also be impacted by the antibiotics and pain medications that sometimes lead to constipation. What’s more, giving your body the proper fuel will give you energy to get back to your normal routine. 

What should you eat after surgery? 

Lean protein that’s found in chicken, eggs, fish, turkey, beans and legumes is essential to wound healing. It contains collagen, a protein found in the body that helps replace dead skin cells and gives our skin strength. Adding fiber and probiotics together is a powerhouse combination that keeps your digestive system moving. One example is yogurt and granola, which makes for a great breakfast or afternoon snack. Other foods high in fiber include beans, apples and pears, oatmeal and flaxseed meal. 

Making meals that include bright fruits and vegetables ensure you’re getting enough of the vital nutrients your body needs to speed healing. Sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, mango and dark leafy greens are excellent sources of beta carotene or pro-vitamin A, a nutrient vital to repair and maintain soft tissues. Bell peppers and citrus fruit provide ample vitamin C that also supports collagen production and is essential in proper wound healing. 

5. Start moving, conservatively. 

Get out of bed and do your rehab, as recommended. But don’t do too much, too soon. When your doctor says it’s ok for you to get up and move around, just do it! Even if you’re scared, get moving again. Lying in bed can lead to weak muscles, pressure ulcers and blood clots, and these ailments can slow down recovery. Normal activities of daily living can also help keep your bowels moving and ward off constipation. Every person and surgery are different. But if your doctor recommends rehab, it’s important to keep your appointments and follow the at-home instructions or exercises provided by the physical therapist to help you get stronger and recovery safely. 


It goes without saying that after surgery it’s critical that you listen to your body. If something’s not right, contact your surgeon right away. For more information about the procedures available at University Surgical Associates, click here. To schedule an appointment, call (423) 267-0466. 

Posted by University Surgical  | Category: Surgery Tips

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