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Postoperative Care

Postoperative Care

Once you are home. It is very important that you follow your surgeon's instructions. The following suggestions should be discussed with your surgeon before your hospital discharge:

  • If you will be using a walker or crutches to assist with walking, ask your physical therapist how much weight you may put on your operated joint.
  • Remember that you will probably tire more easily than usual. You may want to plan a rest period of 30 to 60 minutes mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
  • It is safer and easier to get in and out of chairs using both arms and you should avoid low or overstuffed furniture. To increase your comfort, use a cushion or pillow to raise your body while seated.
  • An elevated toilet seat may reduce stress to your hips and knees as you sit and stand.
  • A shelf placed in the shower at chest height may reduce having to bend to retrieve items.
  • A bathtub seat (bench) allows you to sit while bathing for increased safety and comfort.
  • A long-handled bath sponge may be used to reach lower legs. Women can also purchase razor extenders to shave their legs.
  • Avoid sweeping, mopping, and running the vacuum cleaner. Use long-handled feather dusters for dusting high and low items. Your doctor will tell you when it is okay to sweep, mop, and vacuum.
  • You may ride in a car, but you must follow your doctor's instructions for how to get in and out of the vehicle. You can raise the height of the car seat with pillows to protect your hips and knees as well.
  • Your doctor will talk with you about when you can drive, typically within two to three weeks after surgery. If you have a car with manual transmission, talk with your doctor about driving limitations. Make sure you can brake the car without discomfort before you attempt to drive in traffic.
  • Constipation is a common problem for patients following surgery. This is usually due to your limited activity and any pain medications you may be taking. Discuss your diet with your doctor. It should include fresh fruits and vegetables as well as eight full glasses of liquid each day, unless you doctor tells you otherwise.
  • Your doctor will probably give you a prescription for pain medication. Please follow your doctor's instructions concerning these medications.
  • Some swelling around the incision is normal. You will find it more comfortable to wear loose clothing to avoid pressure on the incision. Ask you doctor or other qualified health professional about appropriate wound care.
  • Eat well-balanced meals for healing purposes.
  • Wound care. In some cases, when you are discharged your bandage will be removed and may be replaced with a smaller bandage. You will want to change your bandage as recommended by your physician, which is typically once a day. Call your physician if you notice any signs of infection; this should be discussed by your physician.

One Week After Surgery
Visitors. You may want to wait a few days after you are home from the hospital/rehabilitation facility to give you an opportunity to rest and become comfortable in your home setting.

Schedule post-op appointment. If your post-op appointment has not already been scheduled, call your surgeon's office a day or two after you are home from the hospital to set up your post-op visit, which is typically two weeks after your surgery.

Three Weeks After Surgery
Post-op appointment. The nurse or physician's assistant will take your blood pressure and temperature. Your surgeon will examine the surgery area checking for any signs of infection. Your stitches/staples will likely be removed as well. Your range of motion will also be examined and you will review your physical therapy instructions. You will want to wear comfortable, loose clothing. You will likely return for follow-up appointments at three months, six months, and one year post-op. You will probably return once a year thereafter.

Two to Three Weeks After Surgery
Resume driving a car. You will need to talk with your physician, but normally, you can resume driving Two to Three weeks after surgery. If you have had a knee replacement, it may be longer before you can drive. If you have a car with manual transmission, talk with your doctor about limitations on driving. Make sure you can use the brake of the car without discomfort before you attempt to drive in traffic.

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