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After Surgery


After surgery or some non surgical treatments, it is usual to need some recovery time. How long you will need will depend on your level of physical wellbeing, the extent of the procedure undertaken, the type of procedure undertaken and what type of activity you wish to return to. 


It is common to have swelling after surgical procedures. The extent of the swelling will depend on the type of surgery and the location of surgery. The majority of the swelling subsides during the first two weeks after surgery. The remainder slowly resolves after that. It can be several months before all swelling disappears although usually it is very minimal after the first few weeks. Some areas of the body take longer for swelling to settle than others e.g. surgery on the leg. Ms Nugent will often advise you to sleep with extra pillows after facial surgery or to elevate your hand or leg after limb surgery.


Along with swelling, it is common to have some bruising after surgical procedures. The extent of the bruising will depend on the type of surgery and the location of surgery. If you take blood thinning medication or steroids or have very thin skin, you will be more prone to bruising. The majority of the bruising subsides during the first two weeks after surgery. The remainder resolves in the following week or two after that. Ms Nugent will often advise you to sleep with extra pillows after facial surgery or to elevate your hand or leg after limb surgery.


You may have been asked to stop some medication in advance of surgery e.g. hormonal treatments (hormone replacement therapy, oral contraceptive pill, tamoxifen) or anticoagulants (warfarin, clopidrogrel). If so, you will be advised by Ms Nugent when you can recommence these medications. Sometimes you will be asked to continue blood thinning injections at home until you are more mobile to reduce the risk of venous clotting. If this is the case, you will be instructed on how to administer these injections prior to your discharge. You may also be asked to take a course of antibiotics or provided with painkillers on discharge. After surgery around the eyelids, Ms Nugent often asks you to use eye ointment or drops during the recovery period. 


After many types of body contouring and breast operations, Ms Nugent requests that you wear support garments for four to six weeks after surgery. You will be informed of this during your preoperative consultation and of the type of garment most suited to your needs. After some burn injuries, particularly if the burn has taken some time to heal, pressure (elasticated) garments form an important part of the scar management process. In this situation, the garments will need to be worn for a longer period of time (up to 18 months in some cases).


It is usual to have some level of discomfort or pain after surgery. The extent of pain and the level of pain medication required will vary. It will depend on the individual, the type and the extent of surgery performed. You will be advised of your predicted requirements and appropriate analgesia and advice provided to you after your procedure. This can be adjusted to better fit your needs if you have any problems. 


Ms Nugent normally removes all surgical drains prior to discharging you home. When they are removed depends on the location of the drain, the type of surgery performed and the amount of fluid draining into the drain. Occasionally you will discharged home with a drain in place. If this is the case, you will receive full instructions on how to look after this drain and when it will be removed.


After certain types of surgery on the hand or the leg or some burn scar surgery, it is necessary to wear a splint or a cast to protect either the surgery or the injury. If you are in this situation, you will be advised how long you should wear the splint, what situations (if any) that it can be removed for and if any movement or exercises are permitted while wearing the splint.


The amount of time with restrictions on activity and time off work will vary considerably depending on the type and location of surgery undertaken. It also varies depending on the type of activities and work undertaken. It will take longer to return to manual work after hand or leg surgery or significant body surgery e.g. abdominoplasty than to return to an office job or a job with light physical demands. After facial surgery, you will need to allow time for swelling and bruising to settle before returning to work. Again for sporting activities, the time to return will depend on the sport involved and the type of surgery undertaken. Ms Nugent will be able to advise you on the specific time period recommended for you during your preoperative consultations.


Before discharge if you have dressings or specific wound care needs, you will be advised on how to take care of them. General advice would be to keep the dressings clean and dry although some dressings allow you to shower over them. A wet dressing should either be changed or in the case of brown micropore tape often used allowed to dry before covering it with clothing. If you need to have sutures removed or dressings changed, Ms Nugent will advise you on the timings of these and will help you make arrangements for this.


If you require therapy after surgery e.g. hand surgery, burn scar surgery or leg surgery, Ms Nugent will advise you of this and will arrange this for you. It is very common to require hand therapy after hand surgery and to see a burn therapist after a burn injury or burn scar surgery. Quite often, there is a very specific therapy regime of exercises and splints to follow after surgery to get the best outcome e.g. tendon surgery.


If you are concerned about any aspect of your post procedure recovery or have any queries about it, Ms Nugent advises that you contact either the hospital where your procedure was carried out or her practice so that you can be advised or reviewed as required.