How to recover from a laparotomy?

laparotomy recovery tips

Mistakes After Surgery That Slow Your Recovery

How long do you stay in hospital after a laparotomy?

How long after a laparotomy can I exercise?

How long does it take for an abdominal incision to heal?

What helps healing after abdominal surgery?

What exercises can I do after surgery?

  • Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions

This seems like a no-brainer, but many patients follow the instructions that they think are meaningful and disregard the ones that they don’t like or don’t feel apply to them. A simple instruction, such as no baths after a procedure, may seem silly but there is typically a very good reason for them. If your doctor says showers only, or no swimming, or tells you not to lift anything heavier than ten pounds for the first few weeks after surgery, there is likely a very good reason for this.

Read more about : Exploratory Laparotomy

  • Prevent Infection

Preventing infection is one of the simplest things that you can do to have an excellent outcome from your procedure. Washing your hands before touching your incision is one of the easiest and most important things you can do during your recovery.

Read more about Laparoscopic surgery

Read more about: laparotomy and laparoscopy

  • Drink and Eat Properly

Many people don’t feel like eating after having surgery. They are nauseated, constipated, or just not hungry. Staying hydrated and eating a healthy diet after surgery can help promote healing, minimize common complications, and help you get past unwanted side effects of anesthesia. Just remember, it is hard to heal if your body doesn’t have the fuel it needs to get better.

  • Know When to Go to the ER

Are your symptoms normal or a sign of an emergency? The general answer is this: if you are seriously concerned you should call your doctor or go to an ER. In general, if you are bleeding, having trouble breathing, can’t keep food/water down, cannot urinate, or you have obvious signs of infection, you need to see a doctor. If you can’t reach your surgeon, your primary care physician or the emergency room should be your next stop.

Read more about: Laparotomy recovery

  • Get Moving

Walking after surgery is one of the most important things you can do after having a procedure. It may seem like a simple thing, but a quick walk every hour or two can help prevent serious complications like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pneumonia. It can also help prevent one very common and annoying side effect of anesthesia: constipation. Walking is a gentle way to return to physical activity and can help promote a return to regular activities.

Mistakes After Surgery That Slow Your Recovery

  1. Do Too Much, Too Soon

Your doctor gave you specific dos and don'ts. Pay attention to them. Maybe you have a green light for simple activities, for instance, but a red light for strenuous ones. Or maybe you're supposed to walk every day but not lift anything over 10 pounds.

  1. Stay in Bed

As soon as you're cleared to move around, do it. People are often worried or scared about it, "but one of the most important things after an operation is to get mobile,".

Lying in bed can trigger a host of problems -- blood clots, pressure ulcers, pulmonary embolisms, and weakening of your muscles.

Even if you feel tired, resist the urge to sleep it off. When you move around it actually shakes off fatigue. It also speeds digestion. Your bowels may be sluggish after surgery, but a little physical activity helps wake up your gut again.

Read more about: Laparotomy recovery exercises

  1. Don't Take Your Meds as Prescribed

You may shrug off pain medication because you heard it's addictive or it makes you constipated, nauseous, or woozy. But skimping on your medicine isn't smart.

  1. Don't Get Enough Food or Drink

If you feel queasy or haven't moved your bowels, it's only natural that you may not be in the mood to eat or drink. But it's important to "refuel."

Food gives your muscles energy and fluids keep you hydrated. When you don't get enough, your recovery can stall.

  1. Go Back to Work Too Soon

Like Saggio, you may be tempted to return to your job ASAP. But don't give in.

"I've seen plenty of people try to do work while they're still in the hospital -with a computer and cell phone," "They're not coherent, let alone able to make good decisions."

  1. Drive Before You're Ready

If your doctor tells you not to get behind the wheel -whether it's for 2 weeks or 2 months - it's for a good reason. Your reaction time may be slower and you could get into an accident. Until you're ready to handle it, get lifts from a friend or family member.

Read more about: Laparotomy surgery

How long do you stay in hospital after a laparotomy?

You will be in hospital up to 48 hours after your surgery, but this does vary in length from person to person. Do remember the surgery is done for a number of reasons and they may have an impact on how you feel and how you recover. Naturally, the more complicated your surgery the longer you may need to stay. You will not be discharged home until you, the Doctors and nurses are happy with your recovery.

Read more about: exploratory laparotomy

How long after a laparotomy can I exercise?

Exercise is as important as rest. You should continue any exercises the Physiotherapist discussed with you in hospital, regular walking and other lower impact exercise will help you to recover. You can go for a gentle swim in a few weeks, when any bleeding has stopped. Leave any more strenuous sports until after six weeks, and increase your level of exercise gradually. After your surgery, avoid lifting anything heavy for at least four weeks, e.g. shopping, laundry, and children. When you do lift anything, remember to bend your knees, keep your back straight, and hold the object close to you. This avoids straining your abdomen. With abdominal surgery, people worry that their scar is weak and may give way, but once the skin has healed, there is no need to be anxious about this. Your scar will fade gradually and will only be visible as a fine white line by 6 - 12 months after the surgery.

Read more about: Exploratory laparotomy postoperative care

How long does it take for an abdominal incision to heal?

Healing depends on your general health and the type of surgery you had. Large or deep surgery incisions can take 6 to 8 weeks to heal. People with medical problems or prescribed certain medications may take longer.

What helps healing after abdominal surgery?

Follow the directions you were given in the hospital. Keep the wound clean and dry for the first 72 hours. Your health care provider will tell you when you can shower. When having a shower, do not let the spray go directly onto any incision until it is well healed. Avoid baths, swimming pools and hot tubs until your incision is well healed. Your incision may also be covered with a dressing made of gauze pads. In the hospital, your health care provider may look at your incision and change the dressing. You will learn what to look for and how to do it if you are going home with a dressing.

Follow a healthy diet: You can help healing by eating healthy. Follow a diet high in vitamin C, protein and zinc. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits. Vitamin C is also in vegetables such as broccoli and brussel sprouts. Meat, fish and milk products are high in protein and zinc. Choose low fat protein. Your health care provider may want you to take multivitamins or nutritional supplements as well.

 Follow your activity guidelines: After some types of surgery you will be advised to avoid heavy lifting. This means you cannot lift anything over 10 pounds or 4 ½ kilograms Heavy lifting can cause problems with healing. Follow the instructions you were given in the hospital.

Exercise and Activity: Exercise and activity helps healing by improving blood flow. Blood brings oxygen and healthy nutrients to the cells in your body to help them heal. Follow the instructions you have been given about the amount and type of exercise to do. You may need to avoid straining and heavy lifting so your wound can heal.

Read more about: Laparotomy recovery diet

What exercises can I do after surgery?

After major abdominal surgery with a large incision it takes about two to three months to be able to move around comfortably. If you have had complex keyhole surgery your recovery will be quicker. If you have had a large incision in your abdomen you should avoid lifting anything heavier than 2-3kg. This is about the weight of a full kettle.

A general rule is that if lifting an object causes pain, then do not do it. You can seek the advice of your surgeon on what is enough exercise and what is too much exercise for you. It takes about two years for the strength of your abdominal wall to return to the strength you had before the operation.

 To achieve this you should continue your core stability exercises three times daily remembering that the exercises may cause discomfort but should not cause pain. Your strength and stamina will slowly improve. In addition to your normal daily activity you can also do some basic exercises to build strength.

Aim to walk every day gradually increasing the distance. You should aim to be able to walk 30 minutes daily by two to three months after your operation. Start walking on level ground and gradually build up to inclines and uneven ground such as cobble paths. Walking on uneven surfaces requires small changes of direction which can cause some discomfort in the healing abdominal muscles.

After two to three months you could consider moderate exercise like swimming or cycling. To progress your core stability exercises you could attend a Yoga or Pilates group. However, seek advice from the group’s instructor about an appropriate level of exercise. If you wish to return to a specific sporting activity please discuss this with your consultant.

Read more about: laparotomy recovery while pregnant

10 common questions about laparotomy recovery tips

1How long does it take to heal after a laparotomy?
Recuperation time following laparotomy is usually six weeks, but may vary depending on whether other procedures are performed at the same time. As with any post-operative recovery, it is important to always consult your doctor
2What helps you heal faster after surgery?
Eat right for recovery. Foods you consume should include: Protein – Protein is essential to wound healing, so try to get plenty of foods like chicken and eggs. Vitamin C – Some research shows that Vitamin C and zinc can help with healing, so eat the recommended amount of fruit each day
3Is a laparotomy a major surgery?
A laparotomy is a major surgical procedure that involves an incision being made in the abdominal wall.
4When can I go back to work after laparotomy?
You are the best judge of when you feel ready to go back to work. Some jobs are more strenuous than others. Some women are able to return to work within 4-6 weeks. Return to work will depending on how you feel and what type of surgery you had.
5How long does a laparotomy operation take?
In 38 cases (3.8%) the laparoscopic procedure was converted to laparotomy. The average operating time for treating ectopic pregnancy and tubal disease was approximately 60 min (range 13-240). Surgery for endometriosis and ovarian cysts averaged 72 min (range 10-240).
6How long do you stay in hospital after a laparotomy?
How long you will need to stay in the hospital will depend on the reason you needed the laparotomy, your treatments, and how well you recover. This is often 5 to 10 days after you have the procedure.
7How long before I can drive after laparotomy?
We advise you avoid penetrative intercourse for about six weeks. This will allow everything to heal and prevent infection. If you have any concerns, refrain from sex until after your six week post operative check.
8How soon after a laparotomy can I get pregnant?
Many doctors advise women to wait 18 to 24 months after they've given birth before trying to conceive again, but this is especially true if you've delivered by C-section. This time-out gives your body a chance to heal and recover from surgery
9What should you avoid after surgery?
To prevent constipation, avoid foods like dried or dehydrated foods, processed foods, cheese and dairy products, red meats and sweets. The amino acids in protein help with wound healing and tissue regeneration. Protein can also help with strength and energy following surgery
10How long does your stomach stay swollen after laparoscopic surgery?
This is due to the small amount of gas that is pumped into the abdomen to make it easier to see. These side effects generally settle within a few days , but bloating can take several weeks to resolve in some people. As with any surgery, there is usually some pain following laparoscopic surgery

1 Comment

  1. Jarreth says:

    hi, 6 weeks ago i was diagnosed with Bowel ischemia. they did a laparotomy + bond resection and anastomosis. Ten hours after the operation I was transported from 1 hospital to another, where I was discharged 5 days after I was admitted. At the moment the scar is healed, but I have a mild pain on the right side of the scar 24hours a day. nrrd som advise please. I use the bath rooms more than 4 times a day

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