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What to Expect: Coming Home after Surgical Procedures

October 9, 2018

For those who have never gone through a surgical procedure, the idea of waking up after the surgery may bring about many questions. Patients may wonder what the first day will be like, or how to spot any issues or complications after leaving the hospital. Most surgical experiences, both the procedure and healing process, tend to go over quite well. As the patient packs up for the big day, knowing what to expect can be a big relief.

Planning for Comfort

When preparing for surgery, plan to be comfortable during recovery. Hair should be clean and pulled back, clothing should be loose and comfortable, and the home should be as convenient and comfortable as possible. If the bedroom is upstairs while the bathroom is downstairs, it is advisable to set up a temporary bed in the lower level of the home for easier access.

The First 24 Hours

Once discharged, the patient may be very disoriented. The different medications used for anesthesia and pain can result in a severely altered state of mind, including grogginess, confusion, and exhaustion. One of the best things a discharged patient can do is sleep. The patient should begin feeling a clearer mind by the second day.

Removing Medical Supplies from the Body

After surgery, patients may find a lot of supplies left on their bodies. Medical id bracelets are one of the first things to be removed, and are sometimes saved as memorabilia by mothers who have given birth. Patients may also find gauze taped to the body at injection or IV sites, or sticky pads that were used for monitoring vitals still attached. Sticky residues may require a bit of rubbing alcohol to remove them.

Watching for Complications

After surgery, the patient and his or her caretaker should watch for any signs of complications. Infection at the surgical site, a fever, or warm and red skin could all signal a potential problem. Reactions to medications are possible as well, and they may include a variety of symptoms. Breathing problems or swelling may require an emergency visit.

Expecting a positive surgical experience and knowing what to expect will help to keep the mind at ease. A medical procedure can inflict some nervous feelings, but these are all normal.