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Post-Operative Instructions

  1. You will be sent home in a surgical wrap or vest. This should be worn night and day for 3 weeks, but may be removed for showering.
  2. Cover the incisions with gauze or abdominoplasty pads, allowing the wrap to hold them in place. This is recommended as long as there is drainage, and to prevent the elastic of the wrap from irritating the incisions.
  3. You may shower 24 hours post-surgery. Do NOT submerge the incisions for at least 3-4 weeks. Baths and hot tubs can be resumed once all areas are completely healed. NEVER use heating pads on chest, burns can occur easily. Use a hair dryer set on a cool setting to dry the incisions after showering. Use your hand to check the temperature of the air striking the wound area to prevent burns.
  4. Driving may be resumed once one’s reaction times, reflexes, and abilities are back to “normal”. One cannot drive while taking narcotic pain relievers. This may require up to 10 to 14 days for some people to be safe behind the wheel.
  5. Don’t be surprised if you notice an onset of thick yellow drainage from your incision 10 to 14 days after your surgery. This represents liquefied fat cells, not pus, and is not at all unusual. If this occurs, cover the area with dry gauze until the drainage stops. If this is accompanied with redness, fever, increased pain, etc., this could represent a problem needing immediate attention. Please call.
  6. Avoid heavy lifting, pushing, pulling or heavy use of the arms for 6 weeks after surgery. Early ambulation is encouraged. One should not elevate one’s pulse or blood pressure for the first 2 weeks to prevent bleeding.
  7. Activity should be gauged to how one feels. Early ambulation is strongly encouraged. More strenuous activity can resume in 2 weeks. Elevation of the heart rate and blood pressure should be avoided for the first 2 weeks to minimize swelling and bruising. After 2 weeks, one can increase one’s pace in walking but should not resume jogging, aerobics, or high impact activities for at least 6 weeks to minimize swelling and bruising.
  8. Please leave the steri-strips on the incisions as long as possible; eventually they will come off by themselves. They serve to support the incision and prevent the scar from widening.
  9. The sutures that were used are absorbable. We will snip off any remaining knots during a post-op visit.
  10. To avoid wound healing problems and disruption of wounds, one needs to be mindful of one’s activities. Be aware that it takes 42 days for most wounds to achieve 70% of the strength of intact skin. Even though you may feel “healed” in 2-4 weeks, the wounds are not as strong as you think. Adjust your activities accordingly.
  11. It is not uncommon that an occasional dissolving suture will surface along the wound presenting a small open area. This is frequently misinterpreted as “infection.” Removal of the offending suture will usually result in rapid healing. We will do this for you as needed in the office.
  12. All pain medication can cause nausea when taken on an empty stomach. Please take every dose with food to avoid this problem. A choice of pain medications has been provided. Please choose one and do not change unless a problem occurs with a particular medication or you wish to “step down” to a lesser strength narcotic. Do not mix the medications – use only one at a time.
  13. ALL pain medications cause constipation. Please use laxatives or stool softeners as needed. Senekot-S is an example of a stimulant with a softener included. Milk of magnesia, Dulcolax tablets or suppositories, magnesium citrate, or Fleet’s Phospha-soda or enemas might be required for more severe constipation issues.
  14. Temperature elevations from 100-101 degrees in the first 2-4 days are usually due to the collapse of the small air passages in the lungs after general anesthesia. This usually does NOT represent infection in most cases unless accompanied by other signs and symptoms such as redness, unusual drainage, increasing pain, etc. This is usually improved with deep breaths. Increased activity and occasionally forcing a cough to re-expand the lungs is recommended.
  15. Resumption of sexual activity is dictated by one’s physical comfort level. Contact of the surgical area with oral secretions or body fluids is not recommended until all areas are well-healed (at least 3-4 weeks or longer as needed).
  16. Early and frequent walking is necessary to prevent the risk of blood clots that could pass to the heart or lungs resulting in a pulmonary embolus. Significant pain and swelling in the leg or sudden onset of shortness of breath are very important symptoms that demand IMMEDIATE attention.
  17. If you develop increased redness, warmth, pain at the surgical sites, or temperature in excess of 101 degrees, please call our office and have your pharmacy’s phone number available.

If you have any questions that our office has not covered, please call.

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