Pre & Post Surgery Advice

What can I do to help myself before the operation?

Before any major surgery, it is advisable to try and get as fit for surgery as possible.

  • Getting Fit: Try to do regular exercise including swimming, walking or going to the gym as this will go a long way in helping your recovery after your operation. This also means trying to lose weight if you are overweight (this helps post operative recovery and reduces complications such as infection and anaesthetic problems that occur more frequently in overweight patients). Do take the advice of your doctor before you start any exercise programme so that you don’t hurt yourself.
  • Healthy Diet: Do make an effort to eat healthily (please refer to the leaflet on Dietary advice for Men and Women), increasing your intake of water, vegetables and fruit. Take iron rich foods such as nuts, broccoli and spinach.
  • Do stop smoking, seeking advice from your doctor, as this affects healing as well as increases your chance significantly of anaesthetic problems, especially lung infections and breathing problems post operatively.
  • Do stop medications such as blood thinning agents (Aspirin or Warfarin etc) only after discussion with your surgeon and your general practitioner as this can affect your surgery.
  • It is recommended that Hormone Replacement Therapy or hormone containing medications is stopped usually a month before any surgery, as this can increase your risks of developing Thrombosis after your operation. Do discuss details with your surgeon.
  • Do let your surgeon and anaesthetist know about the medications you are taking including homeopathic or alternative medicines as these can affect your operation adversely. You may need to stop them before your operation.
  • Do let your surgeon and anaesthetist know about any medical/anaesthetic or surgical information regarding yourself, as this may be helpful in avoiding problems during surgery and afterwards.

How long will I stay in hospital?

You will usually be discharged home in a few days after your operation; usually 48 to 72 hours, provided there have been no untoward complications. During your time in the hospital, you will be monitored for bleeding, infection and the nurses will help you become mobile as soon as possible. This reduces your risk of thrombosis.

Will I need Blood Thinning Injections and why do I need to wear stockings?

You will be usually given a blood thinning injection (for example Clexane), some hours after any major or long operation as well as stockings provided by the hospital, to try and reduce your risk of developing a clot after your operation. You must wear your stockings properly (the nurses will advise you) while you are in hospital and for at least 6 weeks after, until you have recovered fully from your operation and are fully mobile.

Do I need to fast before the operation?

Yes, if you are having a General anaesthetic, no food, even chewing gum for at least 6 hours before your procedure.

  • Evening Operation: No food or chewing gum after 10 am in the morning. You can drink water up to midday.
  • Morning Operation: No food or chewing gum after midnight before your procedure. You can drink water up to 6 am of the morning of your procedure.

Please take your essential medications as normal with a sip of water, unless advised by nurse or doctor.

Please click on this link to view frequently asked Anaesthetic questions

What can I expect after Surgery?

Vaginal bleeding

Some amount of vaginal bleeding and discharge is to be expected, usually for 6-8 weeks. Avoid tampons to reduce the risk of infection. As long as the bleeding is not heavy, or has an offensive smell or causes you concern, this is normal. If you are concerned, you must contact your own doctor or the hospital where you were operated on.

Pain

You will have very effective pain relief prescribed by your anaesthetist after the surgery. You will also be discharged with painkillers to take home with you. You must take these regularly as prescribed to keep pain under control, so that you can become mobile and active sooner rather than later.

Nausea

You may feel slightly nauseous or groggy just as you are coming out of your anaesthetic. This will pass soon and if needed, medication will be given to you to make you feel better. You will feel better once you start drinking and eating normally, which should usually be in a few hours after surgery, if all goes well.

Returning to work

You have had major surgery and it is recommended that you take at least 8 weeks off after surgery and see your GP before you return to work. Some women may need longer, as healing can depend on a number of factors. You must avoid heavy lifting during this time as also constipation and any factors that make coughing a problem, such as smoking. These will increase your risk of need for future surgery.

Other issues

You will be able to resume sexual intercourse usually in 6-8 weeks, after you have stopped bleeding and have no significant vaginal discharge. You may wish to wait to see your doctor first.

Other physical activities

You will be able to resume other activities such as sport, gardening and swimming usually 8 weeks after surgery. Do see your doctor before you commence any strenuous activity. Do avoid lifting heavy weights, constipation both of which can affect the success rate of your surgery. You can do gentle exercises, abdominal and pelvic floor exercises. You will usually be advised by your doctor or the physiotherapist.

When will I know the results of the procedure?

Following your operation, the findings will be discussed with you. Any necessary appointments will usually be made before you leave the hospital.

You will usually be seen in clinic for a follow up but you should contact the hospital if you have any urgent problems or your doctor or surgeon via the secretary if there are any queries prior to your appointment.

The operation and findings will be discussed in detail with you, usually in the clinic after your surgeon has checked your recovery and asked you regarding any symptoms. You will usually be examined to check healing and to assess success of the operation.

Your GP will be sent a letter with the findings from your procedure, and any results. You can be copied into this, if you so wish.

Nitu Bajekal (Consultant Gynaecologist, June 2010)