It is not uncommon for the combination of anesthetic agents and narcotic pain medications, such as Vicodin or Tylenol with Codeine, to result in constipation following surgery. The problem should resolve naturally once the anesthetics have cleared and once pain has diminished enough to be able to discontinue the medications. If it is becoming problematic or uncomfortable, then the use of an over-the-counter laxative or stool softener is certainly okay. Milk of Magnesia works well for many people. Over-the-counter Colace tablets twice per day can also be beneficial to avoid constipation. MiraLax is a strong laxative which can be used if milder agents have been unsuccessful.
Manipulation of skin and soft tissues during surgery will commonly result in bruising. It may sometimes take several days for it to become evident. It may be more pronounced in patients who use aspirin or other blood thinners. Bruising can occur in a gravity dependent manner, such that it may actually appear below the area of the incision. This is especially true following hernia repair, where the bruising may extend all the way into the scrotum or penis. Although this may look concerning, it is harmless and will resolve with time. Applying ice packs over the area of surgery for the first two days is a good approach to help minimize bruising and swelling.
Walking and using stairs are okay to do following your surgery. Lifting more than 10 pounds, sports, and strenuous activities should be avoided until your first postoperative visit. At that time, your ability to resume normal activities will be discussed by your surgeon.
It is recommended that you do not drive following your surgery until you no longer require prescription pain medications and you feel that you are able to maneuver comfortably in the car. This may require up to one week or more depending on the type of procedure.
A low-grade fever, 99 to 100 degrees, is not unusual and the first one or two days following a surgical procedure. It should resolve on its own. It is okay to use Tylenol. Fevers persisting beyond the first couple of days or fevers greater than 101.0 may be a sign of infection and should prompt a call to the physician.
Some surgical procedures require the placement of a urinary catheter. This will typically result in some burning or discomfort with urination over the following 24 hours. It should resolve on its own. Anesthetic agents and surgery can also cause an inability to empty the bladder completely or inability to void at all. This is more common in older men, especially those with an enlarged prostate. If you have been unable to urinate for more than 6 hours following your procedure and you are feeling urinary pressure, than you should proceed to an urgent care or emergency room. A catheter will likely need to be inserted to empty the bladder.
A feeling of bloating or gassiness his common following surgical procedures. This is especially true after laparoscopic procedures where carbon dioxide is used to facilitate visualization within the abdominal cavity. The discomfort may also be felt towards the right shoulder due to gas underneath the diaphragm. The CO2 is typically reabsorbed within 48 hours, at which point the symptoms will resolve. There is no specific treatment for it other than time. Patients may also feel bloated or gassy due to constipation. Once the intestinal function resumes, these symptoms will resolve as well. Stool softeners or laxatives may help with this. Increasing your activity and walking as much as possible will also be helpful.
Anesthetic agents and pain medications may cause nausea following surgery. For this reason, it is recommended that you adhere to a liquid diet for approximately one day following surgery. This can include soup, Jell-O, broth, and juices. Carbonated beverages should be avoided. After this first day, then you may resume eating anything with which you feel comfortable.
Infection of the surgical site is characterized by redness, drainage, increasing pain or burning, and possibly fever. It often takes several days or one week for an infection to become evident. If you are concerned about infection, then you should call the office to make an appointment with the surgeon. It is often difficult to diagnose infection with a phone call, because there is frequently some bruising or other discoloration surrounding the incision or bloody drainage which can be normal. It can be difficult to discern what is normal bruising and discoloration from infection without examination of the incision by the surgeon.
Some element of pain and discomfort is certainly to be expected following the procedure. He was your pain medications as prescribed by your surgeon. It is generally okay to supplement this with over-the-counter ibuprofen in between doses of her prescription pain medication. Ice packs near the region of the incision may also be helpful for the first couple of days following surgery. If these maneuvers are not providing relief, then call to discuss the issue with your surgeon.