In the General Gynecological Pre-Surgery Guide , we explained to you what you should and should not do before a surgical procedure. In the General Gynecological Post-Surgery Guide , we tried to explain the situations you will encounter after your surgery and the process you will experience.
This section describes a program to help you recover faster after gynecological surgery. As part of the Gynecological Post-Surgery Recovery program, it’s important to do certain things before and after your surgery.
What Will Happen When My Surgery Is Over?
When you wake up after gynecological surgery, you will be in the post-operative care unit. You will receive oxygen through a thin tube under your nose called a nasal tube. A nurse will monitor your body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels.
You may have a urinary catheter in your bladder to help monitor the amount of urine you make. This urinary catheter will be removed before you leave the hospital. You may also have compression boots in your lower legs to help with circulation, and a tube to drain fluid in your abdomen (belly).
Here are ways that can help you heal safely;
- You will be encouraged to walk with the help of your nurse or physical therapist. We will give you medicine to relieve the pain. Walking helps reduce the risk of blood clots and pneumonia. It also helps to stimulate your intestines to start working again.
- Use your incentive spirometer. This helps your lungs expand, which prevents pneumonia.
Will I Have Pain After Surgery?
Yes, you will have some pain, especially in the first few days after gynecological surgery. Your doctor and nurse will often ask you questions about your pain. You will be given medication to manage your pain as needed. Please tell your doctor or nurse if your pain does not go away. It’s important to control your pain so you can cough, breathe deeply, use your incentive spirometer, and get out of bed and walk. Will I be able to eat?Most people can start a regular diet after gynecological surgery. You should start with soft and easy-to-digest foods such as apple sauce and chicken noodle soup. Eat small meals often and then switch to normal foods. If you experience bloating, gas or cramps, limit high-fiber foods, including whole-grain breads and cereals, nuts, seeds, salads, fresh fruit, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. If you have also had a colon resection, you will have clear liquids for the first few days after your surgery. Then your diet will move towards solid foods.
Your doctor will give you dietary guidelines to follow after gynecological surgery. Your dietitian will review these guidelines with you before you leave the hospital.
How long will I stay in the hospital?
Depending on the type of surgery you have, you may stay in the hospital for 3 to 5 days. Before you go home, you should:
- Control your pain with medication.
- You can get up and walk around.
- You can urinate and pass gas.
- Consume some food and fluids.
Will I Have Pain When I’m At Home?
The length of time everyone experiences pain or discomfort varies. You may still have some pain when you get home, and you will likely be on pain medication. Follow the guidelines below;
- Take your medications as directed and as needed.
- Call your doctor if the medicine prescribed for you does not relieve your pain.
- Do not drive or drink alcohol while taking prescription pain relievers.
About Medication Use
As your incision heals after gynecological surgery, you will experience less pain and need less painkillers. A mild pain reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen will relieve the pain and discomfort. However, large amounts of acetaminophen can be harmful to your liver. Do not take more acetaminophen than the amount indicated on the bottle or your doctor instructed.
Pain medications will help you while you continue your normal activities. Take enough medicine to comfortably do your exercises. Painkillers start to take effect 30 to 45 minutes after taking them.
Keep track of when you take your pain medication. Taking it when your pain first starts is more effective than waiting for the pain to get worse. Finally, it should be noted that pain relievers can cause constipation (having fewer bowel movements than is normal for you).
How Will I Take Care of My Cuts?
Your incisions will be closed with stitches, staples, or surgical glue. If you have staples, they are usually removed 10 to 14 days after surgery. You will need to come back to the clinic to have these removed. This is done in your doctor’s office and is not painful. Strips of tape, called Steri-Strips, will be inserted into your incision(s) to make sure it stays closed. After about 7 to 10 days these will loosen and you can remove them, but your incision(s) will remain closed.
You should check your incisions daily for signs of infection until your doctor says you’re cured. Call your doctor if you develop any of the following signs of wound infection;
- increased pain,
- temperature at the incision site,
- A foul-smelling or pus-like leak from your cut
- Fever of 38.3°C or higher.
To prevent infection, do not let anyone touch your incision(s). Before touching your incisions, clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. When Can I Take a Shower?
Shower with Hibiclens until your staples are removed after gynecological surgery. Gently wash your cuts with Hibiclens. If your cut(s) have Steri-Strips or surgical glue, do not scrub or use a cloth on it. This can irritate your incision(s) and prevent it from healing. Do not let your incisions get wet for too long while showering. When you have finished your shower, gently dry your incisions with a clean towel. Allow to dry completely before dressing. You can also use a blow dryer on the “cold” setting to dry the area. Once your staples are removed, your doctor or nurse will tell you if you can stop showering with Hibiclens. Continue to shower at least once a day for 4 weeks after your surgery with a soap.Most Common Symptoms After Hysterectomy
It is common for you to have vaginal spotting or light bleeding, which may occur approximately 4 to 6 weeks after gynecological surgery. You should follow this with a pad. Do not use tampons or put anything in your vagina for 8 weeks. Call your doctor right away if you have heavy bleeding. It’s also common to experience some discomfort after surgery from the air being pumped into your stomach (belly) during surgery. To help with this, be sure to walk, drink plenty of fluids, and take prescribed stool softeners.
When Can I Start Sexual Activity?
Do not have vaginal intercourse for 8 weeks after gynecological surgery. Talk to your doctor before resuming sex, as some people will need to wait more than 8 weeks. How Can I Prevent Constipation?
You may experience constipation after surgery. This is a common side effect of pain medications. Activities such as walking and drinking more water can help reduce this side effect.
To prevent constipation, take a stool softener such as docusate sodium 3 times a day and 2 tablets of senna (laxative) at bedtime. Keep taking stool softeners and laxatives until you can no longer use the pain reliever. Drink plenty of fluids. If you feel bloated, avoid foods that can cause gas, such as beans, broccoli, onions, cabbage, and cauliflower.
How Will My Bowel Function Change After Surgery?
If part of your colon has been removed, the rest will adapt to this change. Your remaining colon will begin to acclimate shortly after your surgery. During this time, you may have the following symptoms;
- Changes in your bowel habits (such as frequent bowel movements)
If you have pain around your anus due to frequent bowel movements;
- Apply zinc oxide ointment (Desitin) to the skin around your anus. This helps prevent irritation.
- Do not use hard toilet paper. You can use an alcohol-free tissue instead.
- Take medicine if your doctor prescribes it.
Will I Have to Change My Diet After My Surgery?
Parts of the colon can be removed without a major impact on your nutritional health. However, while your remaining colon adjusts, your body may not be able to absorb nutrients, fluids, vitamins, and minerals before your surgery. While you are recovering from your surgery, it is important to drink plenty of fluids and make sure you get enough nutrients. When Is It Safe for Me to Drive?
Do not drive until your surgeon tells you it is okay. This may correspond to a little after your first follow-up appointment after your surgery. If you are currently taking your prescription pain relievers, your surgeon may ask you to wait longer before driving. Pain medication can slow your reflexes and reactions, making it unsafe to drive. Also, braking requires the use of your abdominal muscles, so driving can increase your discomfort.
Will I be able to travel?
Yes, you can travel. If you are traveling by plane for a few weeks after your surgery, be sure to get up and walk every hour. Make sure to stretch your legs, drink plenty of fluids, and keep your feet elevated if possible. What Exercises Can I Do?
Exercise will help you gain strength and feel better. Walking is an excellent form of exercise. Gradually increase the distance you walk. Do not do jogging, pilates or yoga. Ask your doctor or nurse before starting more strenuous exercise. When Can I Lift Heavy Objects?
Consult your doctor before lifting any heavy items. Normally, you should not lift anything heavier than 4.5 kilograms for at least 6 weeks after your surgery. Ask your doctor how long you should avoid heavy lifting. When Can I Return to Work?
Return-to-work time depends on the type of job you do, the type of surgery you’ve had, and how quickly your body is recovering. Most people can return to work about 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. How Can I Cope With My Emotions?
You may have new and upsetting feelings after surgery for a serious illness. Most people say they feel tearful, sad, worried, tense, irritable, and angry from time to time. You may find that you cannot control some of these emotions. It’s a good idea to seek emotional support in such a situation. The first step to coping is to talk about how you’re feeling. Family and friends can help. Your nurse, doctor and social worker can comfort, support and guide you. It’s always a good idea to let these professionals know how you, your family, and friends are feeling emotionally. Many resources are available for patients and their families. Whether you’re in the hospital or at home, nurses, doctors, and social workers can help you,
When Is My First Appointment After Surgery?
Your first appointment after gynecological surgery will be 2-4 weeks after surgery. Your nurse will instruct you on how to make this appointment, including the phone number to call. At this appointment, your doctor will discuss your test results with you in detail.
Please talk to your doctor or nurse if you have any questions or concerns.
Contact your healthcare professional in the following situations;
- If you have a fever of 38.3°C or higher.
- If there is pain that does not improve with painkillers.
- If you have redness, discharge or swelling in your incisions.
- If you have heavy vaginal bleeding.
- If you have swelling or tenderness in your calves or thighs.
- If you are coughing up blood.
- If you have shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
- If you have a bowel movement for 3 days or longer.
- If you have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea (loose or watery bowel movements).
Commonly Used Herbs and Their Effects on Cancer Treatment
This information does not cover all herbal remedies or possible side effects. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your healthcare provider.
- May cause an allergic reaction such as rash or shortness of breath.
- It can reduce the effects of drugs used to weaken the immune system.
- It can lower your blood pressure, fat and cholesterol levels.
- It can increase your risk of bleeding.
Gingko (also known as Gingko biloba)
- It can increase your risk of bleeding.
- May reduce the effects of sedation or anesthesia.
- It can increase your risk of bleeding.
- It can lower your blood sugar (sugar) level.
- It can make chemotherapy less effective.
St. John’s Wort
- It may interact with medications given during surgery.
- It can make your skin more sensitive to radiation or laser therapy.
- May increase the effects of sedation or anesthesia.
- Herbal formulas contain different herbs. We do not know the side effects. You should also stop taking these products 1 week before the treatment. Do not start taking herbal formulas again until your doctor tells you it is safe.
How to Use Incentive Spirometer?
An incentive spirometer is a device that will expand your lungs, helping you breathe more deeply and fully. Use your incentive spirometer and do deep breathing and coughing exercises after surgery. This will help keep your lungs active throughout your recovery and prevent complications like pneumonia. If you have an active respiratory infection (such as pneumonia, bronchitis or COVID-19), do not use the device in the presence of others.
The first time you use your incentive spirometer, you will need to remove the flexible tube with the mouthpiece from the bag. Extend the tube and connect it to the outlet on the right side of the base. The mouthpiece will be attached to the other end of the hose. When using your incentive spirometer, be sure to breathe through your mouth. If you breathe through your nose, the incentive spirometer will not work properly. If you have problems, you can hold your nose.
If you feel dizzy at any time, stop and rest. Try again later.
To use your incentive spirometer, follow these steps;
- Sit upright in a chair or bed. Hold the incentive spirometer at eye level.
- Put the mouthpiece in your mouth and close your lips tightly around it. Slowly fully exhale.
- Inhale as deeply and slowly as you can through your mouth. As you inhale, you will see the piston rise inside the large column. The indicator on the right should move upwards as the piston rises. It should stay between the 2 arrows.
- Try to raise the plunger as high as possible while holding the gauge between the arrows.
- If the indicator does not stay between the arrows, you are breathing either too fast or too slowly.
- As you raise it as high as possible, hold your breath for 10 seconds or as long as possible. As you hold your breath, the plunger will slowly drop to the base of the spirometer.
- When the piston reaches the bottom of the spirometer, exhale slowly through your mouth. Rest for a few seconds.
- Repeat 10 times. Try to bring the piston to the same level with each breath.
- After each set of 10 breaths, try to cough by holding a pillow over your incision as needed. Coughing will help loosen or clear mucus from your lungs.
Repeat these steps every hour you are awake. Close the mouthpiece of the incentive spirometer when not in use.