Post Operation – Major
Helping you manage after a major operation
Before you go home
Before you leave the hospital, make sure you have:
- any medications you brought to hospital.
- any medications that the doctor has prescribed.
- any radiology scans that you may have brought in.
- an appointment to return to the clinic for a check-up (usually in two weeks unless the doctor wants to see you earlier). If an appointment is not made at the time of your discharge, it will be sent out to you in the mail.
- a medical certificate if you need one.
What to expect after you go home
- The time it takes to recover from a major operation is different for each person. We expect that it will take between six and eight weeks.
- Vaginal bleeding will continue for five to ten days and there will be spotting for up to six weeks after the operation. If the bleeding continues or gets heavier and becomes like a normal heavy period, you should either go to your local doctor or come back to the Women’s Emergency Department. You should also see a doctor if you have offensive smelling discharge.
How to care for your wound
- Keep your wound clean and dry. When you shower rinse with water and gently pat dry with a towel. For most patients we recommend you leave your wound uncovered. Dressings are not required after the first few days.
- Do not use talcum powders, creams or disinfectant on your wound.
- Watch for signs that the wound is irritated, like swelling or redness. If it is hot to touch or there is a discharge you should go to your local doctor or contact our rooms for advice.
- To help manage your pain take analgesia such as Panadol or Panadeine, or Panadeine Forte (if prescribed by the doctor), regularly every four to six hours.
- If you are taking codeine you need to be careful not to become constipated. Mild laxatives like Metamucil are helpful, ask your local pharmacist for advice.
- Drink eight glasses of fluid daily, preferably water, to avoid urinary infections.
- Avoid heavy lifting. You should avoid lifting anything heavier than a two-litre container of milk for the first three weeks. You should also avoid pushing shopping trolleys.
- Avoid heavy housework or other strenuous activities for at least six weeks. Heavy housework includes vacuuming, washing floors, hanging out laundry etc. After three weeks gently ease back into such activities.
- If you need to bend, squat at the knees rather than bending over.
- Avoid driving a car for up to two weeks or until you feel comfortable. The reasons to avoid driving are:
- the seat belt can aggravate the suture line.
- pressing down suddenly on brake may cause stomach pain.
- insurance companies often stipulate that you must not drive for a certain period after an operation. So even though you may feel ready to drive you should check with your insurance company.
- For laparoscopic or pelviscopic surgery, you may resume sexual intercourse after vaginal bleeding stops and when you feel comfortable. In the case of open abdominal surgery or vaginal surgery, wait until you have returned for your follow-up appointment and your doctor is happy with your recovery. If you have any questions or concerns about resuming sexual activity please speak to one of the nurses on the ward.
Be aware of signs of infection
- The following symptoms may be a sign of infection:
- sudden hot flushes or sweating.
- high temperatures above 38C.
- sudden onset of pain that is not relieved by analgesia.
Looking after yourself
- For the first 24 hours, make sure you get adequate rest. No heavy lifting, housework, or cooking.
- Gently ease back into normal activities.
- Do not drive a car.
- Do not drink alcohol.
- Do not operate machinery or electrical appliances which can cause injury.
- Do not sign any legal documents.
Looking after your wound
If you have had pelviscopic or laparoscopic surgery.
Make sure the wounds are kept clean and dry. Notify your doctor if wounds become hot to touch, swollen or excessively painful.
- If there are Steri-strips in place, leave them on until they come off themselves.
- Most of the sutures used are dissolving sutures, they will dissolve over a period of 6-8 weeks. If non dissolving sutures are used, you will need to come to the rooms 5 days after surgery for removal.
- You may experience shoulder tip or rib cage pain due to a small amount of residual gas under the diaphragm. This may persist up to 48 hours. To ease any discomfort take regular analgesia.
If you have pain
- Continue to take the pain-killing drugs prescribed or recommended by your doctor every four to six hours.
- You may resume sexual intercourse after vaginal bleeding has stopped and you feel comfortable to do so unless your doctor states otherwise.
- Try peppermint tea or chamomile tea to help with wind problems.
If you have had a Cone Biopsy or LLETZ or Diathermy treatment to cervix
- Vaginal discharge is common after these procedures. It may be blood stained and should settle down within 2-3 weeks.
- Bleeding can occur between the 10th and 14th day, it should be less than a period. Please contact the hospital if it becomes any heavier or if you pass any clots.
- Heavy lifting and straining should be avoided for 2 weeks following your operation.
- Do not use tampons – use pads for the next two periods.
- Sexual intercourse should be avoided for 4 weeks.
Follow up for Cone Biopsy or LLETZ Treatment.
Your follow up appointment at my rooms, it should be will be three to four months after your procedure.