Planning Surgery? Tips To Help You Recover Faster

If you’re scheduled for surgery, whether it's fibroid removal, appendectomy, hip replacement, kidney transplant, or coronary artery graft, then it’s time to adapt your diet, exercise, and alternative therapies, pre and post-surgery, to improve your health to aid speedy recovery.

There is no simple surgery and most people don’t like the thought, but unfortunately some people must take the plunge at some time. Children may have to remove their tonsils, women may go through a caesarean operation, men may need prostrate or hernia surgery, and by middle age many have frequented hospitals for operations on anything from glaucoma and arthritis to blocked vessels and cancer, or weight reduction surgery.

Get weight right, eat well, and heal faster

There’s no need to panic over a scheduled operation as you’ll recovery quickly so long as you prepare adequately.  It’s important to begin early the pre-surgery healthy lifestyle. Most important of all is to create the right atmosphere to support recovery. Being in a good physical and mental state is crucial.  For instance get as close to your ideal weight as much as possible, because if you’re overweight or too thin the body struggles through healing.   Eating a healthy diet along with exercise will provide various health benefits which range from better circulation in skin and tissues to improving the heart’s capacity to handle physical stress.  In the days before and after surgery, vitamin A and C can help prepare the body for surgery and better wound healing, including healthier calories and protein to aid quick repair of tissues.  

A herbal and  healthy diet are also safe and fast acting way to stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities. 

  • ·         Bee propolis has a wide range of benefits.  It's a healing antiseptic, and a natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory.  You will find it in liquid form, capsules (Royal Jelly supplements), and tablets.  Take 500mg once or twice daily.
  • ·         Zinc can help prepare the body for surgery by toning the immune system and helping ward off infection.  It's also great for speeding wound healing afterwards and has an anti-inflammatory action on the body.  You will find it in meat, seafood, wheatgerm, pumpkin seeds and eggs.  You can take a supplement if you feel you’re not getting enough in your diet. 
  • ·         A diet rich in low-glycemic index (GI) such as fruits, vegetables and wholegrain cereals, will help give you more energy after an operation.  Low GI foods release glucose slowly into the bloodstream, keeping blood sugar levels on an even level.
  • ·         Herbal liquid iron is a good pick me up tonic after surgery, when it can help beat fatigue and get you fighting fit again. A liquid form is easier for the body to absorb and is often mixed with B vitamins, for their additional energy and health boosting qualities. You can also try drinking juice from pumpkin leaves for extra iron.

Be careful of some medications and supplements

Discuss with your doctors any medications you’re taking before a surgery.  Drugs like aspirin and anticoagulants like warfarin interfere, and other painkillers like ibuprofen can affect blood clotting, so you might be advised to reduce dosage or stop taking them for a while. 

Some alternative herbal therapies can also have undesirable effects during surgery.  For example St John’s wort may interfere with drugs applied during and after surgery; ginkgo, ginseng, dong quai, feverfew and garlic can worsen bleeding; while kava and valerian can interact with anaesthetic drugs.  In view of these possible complications, experts advise to stop ingesting these herbal tonics before surgery and give a space of at least a week after surgery before re-administering.

Flush out poison from your body

Rid your body of accumulated toxins from alcohol and tobacco.  Lung infection is a common complication after chest or abdominal surgery, which is more difficult to treat in smokers. Cut down smoking if it’s impossible to give up completely. Alcohol builds up poison over time.  Excess indulgence in alcohol damages the liver and raises the risk of bleeding and interferes with the absorption of many medications, so best to cut down before surgery to aid recovery.

Oral care is a must

Having healthy teeth is important especially before a heart or major blood vessels surgery, or joint replacement operations.  The reason being that the teeth is a good breeding ground for bacteria, which can then enter the bloodstream, hiding in places difficult to flush out, and causing infections.  All infected gums, loose teeth or poor tooth replacements should be treated without delay.

Tune your mind positively

If your child is scheduled for a surgery, tuning your mind positively to the oncoming surgery work wonders, especially where the child is afraid, confused and worry about what’s going to happen. Provide simple explanation that can be easily grasped.  Refrain from using words like ‘cutting’ or ‘stitching’ and be as comforting as you can.

 In the case of adults, it's important to fully comprehend why the option is surgery, and be sure and happy to want to do it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions like what the operation entails, how long it will take, likelihood of complications, and necessary follow up treatment and healing time. A calm, confident and reassuring attitude from the staff calms the patient helping everyone to come out of the surgery with increased optimism.

Sleep well, rest well, eat well

The same healthy habits commenced before operation should continue post-surgery. You need to rest well, sleep well, eat healthily, get a peaceful environment to recuperate, and get loads of information regarding what’s happening to your body. All of these make for a speedy recovery. However, being discharged early from the hospital doesn’t mean you’ve recovered fully from surgery.  Taking things slowly is still needed, as full recovery from a major operation may take between three to six months or longer. Even recovering from general anaesthetics can take a while, with the last traces finally leaving the system after about a week.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons.


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