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Your Post-Op Recovery Guide

It can be hard to imagine how you’ll feel after your surgery. Everyone is different. Our job is to set you up with a strong pain management and post-op recovery plan, but at the end of the day, your journey is unique to you.

There are, however, plenty of things you can do to make your post-op journey easier. Here are some of our top tips to guide you through your post-op recovery and that will help ensure your post-op experience is a great one.

Make Arrangements Ahead of Time

It’s normal to be completely focused on the day of your surgery itself, and to sort of forget that there are things to plan ahead of surgery day. Here’s what we recommend:

Set up a cozy space in bed

Prep your bed in advance. Have some freshly laundered sheets, loose fitting loungewear, get some comfy PJs—you’ll pack one pair to bring with you to the clinic on the day of your surgery.

Also be sure to have some essential items ready next to your bed, like water, books, lip balm, your iPad. Cue up the Netflix, that sort of thing.

We definitely want you resting during your first week post surgery but it’s important to keep in mind that you’re not on BED REST. We want you to take it easy, yes, but make sure to get up every hour (during the day) for a little bit on day 2 and every day after that.

Meal prep in advance

Make some meals prior to your surgery and freeze them. Think easy meals that can be heated up, like lasagna or quiche. If you’re not a big fan of cooking, you can buy some pre-prepared meals or ask your family and friends to organize a meal train, at least for the very first week of your recovery.

Make childcare arrangements

This is a really really important one!

You will NOT be able to look after your kids when you come home after surgery. You really need to make sure that there is someone available for childcare during the duration of your initial recovery (1 to 2 weeks, depending on the type of surgery you’re having).

Childcare is work. You can sit and read with your kids, cuddle with them, chat with them etc., but you cannot be doing bed time, changing diapers, making lunches, hustling them to get ready in the morning. This bit can be hard for moms but trust us when we say you need this time off to recover.

Make pet arrangements

You won’t be able to walk the dog for at least a week if not two.

Arrange a ride

You will need a caregiver to take you home on the day of surgery, and for someone to drive you to your follow up appointment on the second day. Patients are not permitted to drive themselves anywhere in the first week (two weeks for the tummy tuck) following surgery.

Plan for an entire week off work

This is non-negotiable! You really can’t work the first week following your surgery. In theory, computer work from home is allowed, but we don’t recommend it. Going back to your desk job after a week is ok.

Plan for an entire month off the gym

Some of you may be big work-out buffs, but no matter the surgery, no gyms or strenuous work-outs for at least a month post-op. Absolutely no negotiations.

Get a reliable and trustworthy caregiver

Having a reliable caregiver is super important. Your caregiver is responsible for taking you home after surgery and bringing you to your next day appointment. Your caregiver is also responsible for your medications as well as for helping you to and from the bathroom the night after surgery.

To make things easier you can have your caregiver set a timer for all your medications and write down when you took everything. Keep in mind that you’ll need to take this job over for yourself at the 24/48 hour mark.

Take your Tylenol around the clock for the first week

Do not wait until you start to feel pain before you take your Tylenol. This will make it harder to treat the pain in the long run.

Your Post-Op Recovery

Here are some of our top tips to make recovery in particular that little bit easier and ultimately also speedier while ensuring you end up with the best possible results.

Your first week: stay home

All patients, regardless of the type of procedure they had or how well they feel, must stay inside their home for one week. They cannot leave, except to go to their follow-up appointments, and they cannot walk outside. They must be housebound for a week. This is absolutely non-negotiable. It sounds harsh, but we are very strict on this point.

Your caregiver will be there for the first 24 hours after surgery

After the first 24 hours, you’ll be okay to dress yourself, wash, get up, etc. That being said, this timeline is typically ok for breast procedure patients. If you’re getting a tummy tuck or mommy makeover you will need help for a good week or two post-op.

Anything outside of daily self-care in the first week is not permitted

Again, we are very strict on this point. No excuses: “But my friend had surgery with Dr. X and she went out for dinner the night after surgery.” “But I feel fine, I can totally make dinner for the family” Sorry, but absolutely not! Breaking this very important rule can be a massive risk for complication in week one.

Showering after surgery

Do not shower after surgery until we give you the express go ahead. You’ll get these details from us when we see you at your post-op appointment. And absolutely no baths, swimming pools, hot tubs etc., until we tell you that it’s ok, this might be multiple months following surgery, but we will let you know.

Your surgical garment

Following your surgery, you will wake up in a surgical garment, which you’ll have to launder every day (yes, every single day). You can also purchase another garment if you prefer, but one is perfectly fine and is okay to be off your body for the time it takes to launder (a couple hours a day). You’ll need to wear this garment for at least one month.

Most surgeries are pretty low on the pain scale

However, for patients who have a low pain threshold or have had a tummy tuck, it’s still super important to get out of bed once an hour to go to the bathroom or take ten steps even if you’re in pain. Lying around in bed and not moving greatly increases your risk of a blood clot.

Expect some constipation

Constipation is extremely common and can be problematic if left too long. Please call us if you’re experiencing any constipation. We are totally here to help.

Attention breast procedure patients!

After a week, breast patients are usually eager to get out and walk. Our surgeons are very strict on this point: absolutely no exercise of any kind for one month. Strictly.

And here’s why. Anything that raises the heart rate and/or blood pressure puts pressure on the fragile blood vessels in and around the surgical site. A spike in HR can cause the vessel to burst and that means emergency surgery. Getting fresh air in your backyard is fine, but no walking.

All post op meds will be done in 5 days

You will finish your course of post-op meds in 5 days. You can continue to take Tylenol as needed if you still have pain.

No Advil or vitamins until 2 weeks post-op

You’ll need to stay away from Advil and any vitamin supplements for 2 weeks as they present a bleeding risk.

A diet rich in protein and fibre is recommended

Colourful and clean foods. Protein is best for healing and getting your vitamins from food is key—because, remember, no vitamin supplements allowed.

Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water or Gatorade, but water is best.

We will give you guidance on your post-op recovery journey

You’ll be counselled on things like massage (breast massage, scar tissue massage), wound care, scar care, and general “healing” at your post-op visits. All appointments are mandatory unless otherwise discussed with your surgeon or post-op Nurse Lori.

And last but not least, it’s important to recognize that no two days are the same and it’s normal to feel great one day and then not as good the next. Recovery is a process, but you’ll get there, and we’ve got you every step of the way.

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