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How to Care for Someone After Surgery


How to care for someone after surgery

Preparing for surgery and recovering from surgery can be an anxious experience. If you or a loved one have had or will have an operation, you may have a lot of questions about how best to manage the recovery. Use these helpful tips to avoid infections, manage pain and stay on the road to a smooth recovery.

1. Preparing Ahead of Time: Be prepared for those first few days after the surgery by having the house already stocked with groceries and other necessities. Have a wound kit ready to go and easily accessible. Some items you will need include scissors, disposable gloves, trash bags, antibacterial ointment and bandages.

2. Managing the Pain: Your doctor will likely prescribe you something for the pain. Be sure to check with your physician before using a cold compress on the area. While taking medicine around the clock, it’s best to keep activity minimal and to have a friend or caregiver available to drive you where you need to go and to assist you cooking and other household and personal chores.  

3. Keep it Moving: The sooner you can get back on your feet, the quicker you will start to feel like your old self. It's important not to overdo it, but getting in a little activity can be beneficial, even if it’s just a walk around the block or to the kitchen and back. Doing too much too soon could cause a delay in recovery so be sure to monitor your pain levels and report any increase in pain to your doctor immediately.

4. Eating to Heal: There's the old adage that food is medicine. Be sure to give your body the fuel and nutrition it needs to repair itself while your body is healing. Even if you don’t have much of an appetite it is crucial to eat not only nutritiously but regularly.

5. Preventing Infection: Surgical incisions become infected as much as 30 percent of the time. Keep your recovery progressing smoothly by cleaning the wound and changing bandages at least twice a day. You can recognize infection by checking to see if the area is red, swollen or warm. Does the patient have a fever? This could also be an indication of an infection. Any unusual odors, discharge or pain at the affected site is also a red flag and should be attended to by a medical professional immediately.

6. Practicing Daily Hygiene: Once your doctor gives you the okay, it's fine to shower and get back into a regular routine of daily hygiene. Utilizing waterproof bandages will make showering after surgery easier since you won't need to remove the bandage during the shower and the incision stays protected against soap, dirt and other potential irritants that could lead to an infection. Even if your surgery scar does not feel tender, it is important to keep it bandaged to protect it from rubbing against clothing which can introduce bacteria to the site.  

7. Rest and Renewal: Sleep is the body’s way of renewing itself. If there’s ever a time you need to get your zzz’s it’s now. Sleep in a cool dark room, free of sleep cycle disrupting light from the television or other devices. Before you know it, you will be well on the road to a full recovery.


©Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2015

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