The surgical removal of the appendix is very safe nowadays because of laparoscopy, which basically involves inserting a little tube with a camera on it to see the internal parts of the body. In a laparoscopy, surgeons will make a very small incision and see everything in detail while they operate.
Sometimes, a laparoscopy may fail to work and the surgeon will need to make a larger incision and perform what is commonly known as an open surgery. An open surgery will leave scars, but they fade over time with proper care.
The recovery after an appendectomy is not very difficult or grueling. If you follow the instructions given by your doctor, you will be fine. After the procedure, you may experience the following common symptoms:
- Weakness for several days
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Swollen belly
- Pain in the shoulder for about 20-24 hours
- A headache that usually disappears after a few days
The symptoms may sound much, but they are just mild and the medications should be able to get you back on track.
Your recovery will depend on what kind of surgery you had. The only available options for an appendectomy are laparoscopic and open surgery. If you had the laparoscopic surgery, you will recover within 7 to 21 days depending on your body type and other factors. If you have undergone an open surgery, it will obviously take longer for you to recover, which would take about 14 to 28 days.
Avoid All Strenuous Activities
As previously mentioned, you will feel tired after the surgery. Therefore, it is very important that you get plenty of rest and sleep to have a faster recovery. Remember that you will heal better if you will allow your body to have sufficient rest after the operation.
However, you should not be resting or sleeping all the time. You should also walk and ensure that you take it slow because you would not want to risk tearing the incision site. Increase the amount of time that you walk each day while keeping within your limits to make sure that you do not make the mistake of causing injury.
A two-week period after your surgery is crucial in your recovery. You should take care of yourself during this period and avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activities that could trigger reactions and cause you more pain. The following activities are some of the many that you should avoid:
- Lifting weights
- Yoga or martial arts training
- Bicycle riding
- All types of exercises that can strain the incision
You are allowed to consume a normal diet after the procedure. However, if resuming on your usual diet becomes hard to do, you should switch to bland and low-fat foods instead such as:
- Plain white rice
- Broiled chicken
- Wholemeal wheat foods
Try to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. However, in some instances, the doctor may ask you to limit your fluid intake. It all depends on a person's health status and body type. If you had regular bowel movements before the surgery, you might notice that they become irregular after the surgery. However, you should not worry about it. Just make sure that you do not become constipated. You can do this by taking fiber supplements every day. If ever you experience constipation, consult your doctor for some laxative prescription to help you with your bowel movements.
If you took medicines before you had the surgery, you may want to speak with your doctor about when you can resume taking them after the surgery. Usually, the people who are at risk of being affected the most are those who take blood-thinning medications. When you take blood thinners, they make it somewhat hard for your wound to heal.
Sometimes, the prescribed medications that you take to help you deal with the pain will end up causing you more pain since every patient has certain unpredictable reactions or sensitivities to medications. If you experience such occurrences, report to your doctor immediately and let him or her take a look at it.
Caring for the Incision Site
If you are undergoing an open surgery, you will be having staples at the incision site. Leave the staples on for 7 to 12 days before they can be removed by the doctor. You are allowed to wash the area but only with warm soapy water and a properly squeezed soft cloth to ensure that you do not harm the incision site.
If you had a ruptured appendix, you may have an incision with packing in it and the doctor will tell you to make sure that you change the packing as often as possible.
Unless you have a drain near the incision, you are not allowed to take showers 24 to 48 hours after the surgery. For the first seven days after the surgery, just dry the incision site with a barely moist cloth. For the surgical wound to heal faster, strictly follow your doctor's orders.
You must be able to sit comfortably and drive at a speed where you can easily move your foot to the brake. If you cannot move your foot quickly without cringing or stifling a scream, it is best not to drive.
If you get caught in traffic or have to travel further than you thought, a prolonged sitting may cause you pain. Thus, to be on the safe side, do not drive for two weeks after the surgery. If you decide to get back behind the wheel, know the risks and take it slow.
An appendectomy recovery is fairly easy and should be even easier if you anticipate all the things that will happen after the surgery because after you have done that, you will be prepared for all emergencies and you will be able to solve all the problems that may occur.
Go for a return checkup as instructed and never ever ignore any unusual things that may happen after the surgery. Always follow your doctor’s instructions and you will be fine.