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Overlook Medical Center: The Patient Experience
Surgical Discharge Instructions: 12-Week Limitations
You have just undergone successful extensive pelvic surgery and now it is your turn to play a pivotal role in the success of your surgical treatment. We know that it will take approximately 12 weeks for the tissues that have been operated on to heal back to 80 percent of their eventual strength. It may take up to six months to achieve 90 percent wound strength and full wound strength will not be achieved until two years. Based on this, we recommend that our patients be restricted in their activity for 12 weeks following major surgery. If you are only having a sling for urinary continence, you only need to follow these restrictions for 6 weeks.
These restrictions include the use of a stool softener for 12 weeks so that you do not need to strain at the time of bowel movements. In addition, we want to limit your activity and not allow you to do anything for exercise except walking; walking is encouraged! Anything that increases the pressure within your abdominal cavity will tend to tear down the repair prematurely. For this reason we ask you to refrain from lifting anything heavier than about eight pounds (or a gallon of milk). In addition, you should avoid swimming, biking and aerobics. You should not be carrying groceries, the laundry basket, or vacuum cleaner. If you need to reach something on the floor, you should either sit down in a chair and scoop it up or slowly bend down on your knees to pick up the object. Routine activities such as getting dressed and shaving legs are fine. It is also fine to climb stairs as long as you take it slow.
In addition to the stool softener, you may or may not have been given medications for pain or hormone replacement. In addition to these, you should resume all of your prior medications unless specifically indicated by us.
You might have to go home from the hospital with a catheter in your bladder. If so, our nurse will remove the catheter several days after you leave the hospital. This visit is called a "voiding trial". In addition, we would like to have you come back to the office in about two weeks for an initial postoperative visit with your doctor. We will then see you again at six weeks after surgery. If you follow these instructions, we believe that you will have the best possible chance of healing well after surgery. This is the best way to achieve a good, long-lasting successful repair of your problem.
You should understand that when you are first at home not every day will be a good day. You will notice you are more fatigued than you were prior to surgery and that you do not have the same stamina you used to have. This should resolve over the next four to six weeks. During the first weeks after surgery, some people may become slightly blue or depressed. If you notice this happening, and it does not seem to be resolving on its own, you should contact our office and let us know. In addition, if there is any problem with your wound - excessive pain or a fever, or trouble emptying your bladder after the catheter is removed - you should contact our office. If you have any questions about your medications, please do not hesitate to call the office at 973-971-7267.
We hope these instructions will be useful to you. If there are any questions not covered by the instructions, please contact us at the above number. It has been a pleasure working with you in resolving your problem. It truly is a joint effort and now we need your help in seeing that you recuperate and heal well.