- Laser surgery
- How does surgery help to diagnose cancer?
- How is surgery used to treat cancer?
- Some common terms for surgical treatments
- Surgery for rehabilitation
- About anaesthetics
- Finding out more about your treatment
- What happens when you are admitted into hospital?
- What to expect after a major operation
- Returning home
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Some patients may be ready for discharge as soon as their wound is healing well and they are strong enough to walk, shower themselves and eat a normal diet.
People living on their own with no home help or support may find it difficult to cope with the basic demands of daily living like cleaning, shopping and cooking. It is advisable to discuss this with the doctor, nurse or social worker before leaving hospital so that services are put into place.
Stitches, clips and dressings may be removed before discharge. In other cases this can be done by the general practitioner or during the first post-operative check up. Some stitches do not need to be removed as they will be absorbed by the body.
If you go home with wound drains left in place or need specialised treatment at home a home nursing service may be organised to see you each day. Your GP should also be kept informed about your progress.
Follow-up appointments are organised to check up on your progress. They also provide you an opportunity to ask your doctor any questions you may have. However if there are questions or problems that you need to discuss immediately do not hesitate to contact your GP or ring the hospital nursing staff or your specialist.
Sometimes you may need to continue seeing other health professionals like physiotherapists, speech pathologists or dietitians who will help you with your ongoing recovery.
Looking after yourself at home
After surgery your body will need time to heal. Even if yours was a relatively minor surgical procedure, side effects of general anaesthetics, like feeling tired or drowsy may persist for some time.
After major surgery do not expect to go back to your normal routine immediately. Often your family and friends wish to be involved in your care but are uncertain what to do. Let them know what can be most useful for you.
If you live on your own and need assistance, explain your situation to the nurse or a social worker. You may be eligible for Meals on Wheels, visits from a home nursing service, help with domestic chores or the use of specialised equipment. Depending on the circumstances a stay in a convalescent hospital can be organised by your doctor.
To help your body recover from the effects of major surgery:
Eat a varied and balanced diet. Choose foods that have a high nutritional value but also suit your tastes and preferences. Your doctor will inform you if you need to follow a special diet and a dietitian can be consulted.
Take plenty of rest.
Maintain high standards of personal hygiene to prevent infections.
Avoid crowded places or people who have colds, coughs and other infections.
Inform your doctor if you feel unwell, if your wound looks swollen and red or discharges fluid that seems abnormal or if you experience unusual pain or discomfort.
You may need to avoid strenuous exercise or heavy lifting.