Having surgery is no simple matter. Even if the surgery is well-planned, there may be a sense of apprehension accompanying it. While most people recover well from surgery, there are chances that some may develop post-surgery complications.
A minor complication could take a few days to get resolved. On the other hand, some patients may face severe postoperative complications after surgery.
Some Common Post-Surgery Discomforts
Depending on the type of surgery performed, a patient may feel some discomfort following the surgery. These may include,
- Soreness, pain, or swelling around the site of the incision
- Nausea and vomiting due to general anesthesia
- Restlessness or sleeplessness
- Sore throat if a tube was placed in the windpipe for breathing during the surgery
(Johns Hopkins Medicine)
Post-Surgery Complications to Watch Out For
It’s critical to always pay attention to how the body feels in the days after surgery. Monitoring and identifying early warning signs play a considerable role in preventing post-surgery complications. Here are some signs and symptoms that you must never ignore.
Low-grade fever, around 100 degrees, is not uncommon after surgery. However, if you develop a high fever above 101 F, you should call your surgeon. A fever could indicate several post-surgery complications such as pneumonia or an infection that may need prompt medical attention. It’s best to monitor your temperature regularly for a couple of weeks after surgery. (Hanes, 2020)
Vomiting or Diarrhea
Some types of surgeries and even post-surgical medications can cause vomiting or diarrhea. Though it is a common side-effect, one mustn’t ignore it. If there are frequent episodes or persistent vomiting or diarrhea, this could lead to dehydration. It’s best to call your surgeon if this happens.
After surgery, blood clots are a concern, especially if the surgery makes it difficult to walk or move around. In such cases, there is an increased risk of developing a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The DVT is a blood clot that can be dangerous. If it dislodges, it can travel through the bloodstream to the lungs and block blood flow. This may lead to pulmonary embolism, which is a life-threatening condition requiring emergency medical treatment.
Some of the symptoms of pulmonary embolism include coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath. The best way to avoid blood clots is to move or walk as much as possible as your surgeon allows it and lower the chances of DVT. (WebMD, 2020)
Infection Around the Incision
One of the most important things to keep in mind after surgery is to prevent infections. Sometimes infections can become severe. Some signs to watch out for are fluid or pus draining from the incision, fever, redness around the cut, or if it feels hot to touch. If any of these symptoms are seen, you might need medical treatment.
To prevent infections, doctors, nurses, and caregivers must clean their hands and sterilize all the tools and devices they use. Ensure that you wash your hands with soap and water and you are caring for the incision as per the doctor’s instructions.
Constipation is common after surgery. Some of the reasons behind this could be the type of surgery, general anesthesia, certain pain medications, etc. Ensure that you are not straining, especially if you’ve had abdominal surgery.
Some ways to avoid constipation are to ensure you are well hydrated, stay active, drink prune juice, etc. Your doctor may even prescribe a laxative or stool softener to keep your bowels moving.
Feel Better, Heal Better
Avoiding post-surgery complications is the best way to heal faster, and following your surgeon’s discharge instructions is critical. Suppose you’re experiencing difficulty and need help. In that case, you can refer to the discharge materials or reach out to your surgeon. You can also seek treatment in an emergency room if you have a severe complication. We are our own best advocates. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Johns Hopkins Medicine. “After Surgery: Discomforts and Complications.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/after-surgery-discomforts-and-complications.
Hanes, Elizabeth. “8 Symptoms Never to Ignore After Surgery.” Healthgrades, 19 Aug. 2020, www.healthgrades.com/right-care/preparing-for-surgery/8-symptoms-never-to-ignore-after-surgery.
WebMD. “Common Complications After Surgery.” WebMD, WebMD, 2020, www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/surgery-complications-side-effects.