4 things that can influence your surgical outcome

These 4 factors can have an impact on your surgical outcome

By Dr. Killeen, published on February 28, 2022

surgical outcome

Pre-op appointments are often spent discussing pain management, dressings, and activity restrictions, but there are a few things that can have a huge impact on recovery and complications. I have listed a few of the things that patients are not prepared for, which may make the recovery process more difficult.

Pets

While your animals bring you joy, they can also be a problem while you’re healing. There are two main reasons for this. The first is infection risk. Animals harbor a lot of bacteria that can lead to infections following surgery. I always recommend that if your pets sleep with you, you clean your bedding before surgery and take steps to keep them out of the bedroom for the first few weeks after surgery. Although I understand that this can be difficult, I have witnessed many infections brought on by this situation. Regardless of how clean your pets are, or how far they keep away from you in bed, it’s not worth the risk.

Secondly, pets require a lot of activity. Sometimes, we don’t realize how much time we spend with our pets. Feeding, walking, and grooming require more physical effort than most of us realize. For at least two weeks following surgery, it’s best to have someone help you with your pets, sometimes longer if you have large dogs that require daily walks.

Caregivers

For the first week after surgery, you will need someone to help you. Driving, dressings, medication assistance, and taking care of household tasks will need to be handled by someone else. You should select a caregiver with whom you have a strong, stable relationship. Unstable relationships will suffer from the stress of surgery and recovery.

The first few weeks after surgery are a difficult period for many relationships (both friendships and partnerships). Your best surgical outcome would be best served by finding someone else to assist you if your relationship with the caregiver is less than ideal. It will be appreciated by them as well. There will be plenty of time to work on your relationship after, so for now, focus on your healing.

Mental Health

We tend to focus most of our attention on medical issues during pre-op evaluations, but mental health is just as important. Anesthesia and surgery can worsen anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental health concerns. Your non-medication coping/managing activities may be eliminated as well in the event of surgery. You should be honest with your doctor about how you manage your mental health. During this process, we need to learn if you have been stable on medication, and what non-pharmacological measures you are taking (therapy, exercise, groups).

Group or private therapy sessions may not be possible for you, which can be draining. Find out if virtual options are available to you. Since physical activity is harder, you will not be able to do a lot of your favorite things for several weeks if this is important for your mental health. Discussing your upcoming surgery with your mental health provider is a good idea. Try to have a plan in place in case you experience a mental health crisis after your surgery.

Planned Trips and Events

In my experience, having a procedure close to an important trip or event creates an unacceptable level of stress for the recovering patient. Not just for the patient, but also for their friends and family members who are also involved with the event. If an elective surgery is scheduled close to an event, complications are harder to manage. It is never a good idea to have an elective surgery just before traveling or attending an event. It is rare for there to be a perfect time for a procedure, but in general, 2-3 months of recovery are suitable.

In addition to giving your body time to heal physically, take your mental health and stress into account as well to ensure the best surgical outcome!

Happy Healing!