Post Operative Care
As you prepare to go home there are several questions in your mind. The following points will answer most of your questions.
However if you desire to clear any other queries please feel free to do so. This is a generalised overview, and individual patient may want to ask specific questions which we are pleased to answer.
To gain access to heart, the surgeon has to go through the breast bone which is thick bone in front of the heart. The bone is wired together and takes about six weeks to heal. While this healing process is on, the patient is likely to feel muscular pains and aches in the chest, the shoulders and the back. During this time the patient is advised to take painkillers. It is important to take enough painkillers to be able to move freely and to cough without too much pain, as deep breathing and coughing help to quicken recovery.
Paracetamol is indeed a very strong painkiller. A 70kg man may need upto two tablets three to four times a day.
Brufen 400mg three times a day is also helful to get rid of pain.
The best treatment of your incisions is gentle cleaning with soap and water. One of the kinder soaps like LUX is ideal, if your skin is too dry, you may use a soap like Pears, which has glycerine in it. Avoid germicidal soaps, as they may be harsh to your skin.
Gentle bathing in tap or warm water is ideal. The first time that you are having a bath after the operation, please seat yourself on a comfortable stool, keep the door open and have someone stand by and help you. Bathing can be quiet strenuous and may tire you and make you feel dizzy.
Itching, particularly along the back of the skin incision
Small amounts of yellow discharge. Mild redness of the skin. Mild swelling of the ankles.
Occasionally the skin may become dry and flaky.
A soft cream like nivea will help. Do not put any other creams, ointments or powder as they have no benefit. They may actually cause harm by allowing resistant bacteria to flourish.
The usual advice is to wear elastic stockings for about six weeks after the operation. If, however, you have a past history of arterial disease, stockings should not be worn. It is best to wear stockings all day while walking around, and to take them off at night while sleeping.
Aspirin is needed because it reduces the clotting ability of blood and thus keeps your arteries free of clot. If you are allergic to aspirin or you have had a stomach ulcer or asthma, your doctor needs to be told.
For antiplatelet activity, one junior aspirin (75mg) taken every other day is as effective as a large dose.
If you are diabetic, you will need antidiabetic tablets or injections. If you have high blood pressure you may need tablets for high blood pressure even after the operation. There are many types of blood pressure tablets that are now available.
Your doctor therefore has a variety of choices. If any one of these does not suit you, please tell your doctor, he can change it. This is better than self medication or no medication.
Cholesterol Lowering Tablets: If your cholesterol level is high, you may be advised cholesterol lowering tablets.
Cholesterol is of two types (a) Good Cholesterol (b) Bad Cholesterol. Fortunately, today tablets are available that can increase good cholesterol and reduce bad cholesterol.
Water Tablet: You may be put on a water tablet after the operation to help your body lose excess water. These tablets may need to be continued for varying periods of time and your doctor would review them at each visit.