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Ten Tips to Speed up Post-op Recovery

Healing from a surgical procedure can be a complicated and frustrating experience.  Outcomes may be different than expected, complications may arise, and the need to stay at home to rest and recover might be longer than planned.

Instead of merely lying around and waiting for time to heal your surgical wounds, engage in some simple proactive tools to help the recovery process:

1. Diet - eating well for recovery.
Reduce salt. Salt encourages our body to retain water, so get rid of unwanted swelling by eating foods that are low in sodium.

No Gatorade. It may seem counterintuitive, but the sports drink is filled with sodium encouraging water retention.

Increase protein.  Protein is essential with wound healing, muscle and skin re-growth and repair and prevention of hair loss.  Make sure that every meal or snack includes a good source of protein.

Decrease Sugar. The intake of sugar can suppress the immune system, upset the body's mineral balance, and increase fasting levels of blood glucose.

Eat small amounts many times throughout the day. - Especially to avoid nausea and bloating.

Wine. Wine works as a diuretic, so consuming a glass of wine post-operatively can be helpful for post-surgical swelling.  Do not mix alcohol with any prescription drugs.

2.  Move! - to increase circulation and the flow of lymph fluid.
Walk. Rest for the first 24 hours, then slowly get back into your normal daily activities as tolerated.  In the early stages of post-surgical recovery many physicians request that heart rate is not to be elevated.  An option for this is walking in a neighborhood or mall at a normal shopping pace, not an exercise pace.  You can do this for any length of time.  Quit if you experience fatigue, dizziness or experience nausea.

Exercise. At three weeks post-op most patients are free to exercise again.  Be sure to check with your surgeon and comply with their specific post op instructions.

3. Hydration - drink low-calorie, non-carbonated beverages.
Water, Skim Milk, Diet Nestea, Diet V-8 Splash, Tea, Diluted Fruit Juice (about 4 oz. /day), Flavored water (i.e. Propel) and Crystal Light. - stay away from Gatorade due to high levels of sodium

Watermelon. This tasty fruit is filled with water.

4. Rest - listening to the needs of your body.
A week or so after your surgery your conscious mind may be telling you that you 'should' be getting back to your 'normal' life.  Remember that your body's in trauma for 6 weeks following the surgery.  Heed what it's telling you to do.  Sleep if it says that you're tired, eat if you experience hunger pains and drink if you feel thirsty.

5. Soulstice Peri-operative Therapy - our integrated manual post-operative techniques.
Lymph Drainage. To reduce unwanted swelling

Fascial Reorganization. To reduce lumps, bumps, and tightened connective tissue and muscle.

Facilitated Stretching.  To aid and guide a patient back to proper mobility and function.

Scar Manipulation. Combating scar thickening and to help tissue normalization.

Stress Reduction.  Helping to calm the nervous system so that people feel better about their surgical experience, and alleviate post-op depression.

6. Clothing - knowing what to wear.
Itching. Consider using a men's basic tank top underneath your compression garment for itching issues.  These t-shirts are nice and snug and conform to the body, unlike a regular t-shirt would.  Don't hesitate to cut to size.

Drain Holders. Consider attaching shoe strings to your drains to help in the shower.

No Tight Waistbands. Avoid wearing anything that's binding in the midsection following a lipo procedure.  That includes elastic waistbands and belts.

Garments. If you've been directed to wear one, be sure to purchase two, so that you can wash one while wearing the other.  When garments become loose remember that they're not working anymore.

7. Stretching
Large Exercise Ball. Use to stretch post-surgically and break up adhesions (great after lipo procedures) Rotate in all directions.  Lay on back, sides and stomach.

8. Self Massage - in between treatments at Soulstice.
Mechanical Massage Units
. Great for 'at home' self massage - especially for tummy tuck and lipo procedures.  Soulstice recommends a Homedics unit that has a contoured head - perfect for thighs and flank regions.

9. Scar Care
How to minimize a scar.  There are many ideas and suggestions of ways to decrease the size of a surgical scar.  We've discovered that the applicator (a.k.a. your finger) is the most effective tool to help minimize your scar.  The act of 'rubbing' the scar is the best way to stimulate blood flow, therefore encouraging the flow of skin-rejuvenating oxygen and nutrients.

Ointments. Some of these include vitamin C, silicone dressing, or Mederma scar cream.  While these may or may not be effective, we have found that applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly on a completely closed and sealed scar, and covering with an adhesive bandage, is the best way to minimize the appearance, feel, and look of a scar.

Silicone Sheeting. Helps to keep a scar warm and moist, therefore aids in scar healing.

Sunscreen! Newly formed scar tissue has no pigmentation.  Avoid sun exposure on your scar for a minimum of one year after your surgery.  Sun exposure on scars may cause permanent discoloration.  A stick sunscreen will provide the most protection.  Alternatively, a sunscreen lotion with a minimum of SPF 15, broad-spectrum protection and Parsol 1789 is also acceptable.  Be sure to check with your physician for their particular sun screen recommendations.

10.  Itching
Sarna Ultra Anti-itch Lotion. This product may be found at a local drugstore. 

 

This material is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.

The information and opinions expressed here are believed to be accurate, based on the best judgement available to the authors. Readers who fail to consult with appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries. In addition, the information and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of every contributor. Soulstice acknowledges occasional differences in opinion and welcomes the exchange of different viewpoints. In addition, Soulstice, Ltd. is not responsible for errors or omissions.

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