6 Tips for Recovering From an Appendectomy

tips for recovering from appendectomy

One of the top reasons for emergency surgery in hospitals is appendectomy. Recovery from an appendectomy is a process that begins at the hospital. Recovery usually depends on the type of appendectomy procedure had and the overall health of the patient. For instance, laparoscopy is a less-invasive procedure with faster and easier recovery than an open appendectomy. It is even possible that the patient is discharged straight from the recovery room after a laparoscopic appendectomy.

Discharge time may vary depending on how well liquid intakes are tolerated and begin eating solid foods, getting up, and ability to walk a few hours after the appendectomy. Following instructions from the best doctors for the appendix on wound care, bathing and resuming normal activity and exercise is the key to faster recovery after discharge. A smooth and complete recovery would involve a few measures to be followed after appendectomy.

Recovery tips from an appendectomy

Appendectomy is the only way to get rid of the dangerous infection that could develop if the appendix bursts. Recovery time after appendectomy varies depending on the severity of the infection and whether or not it was a ruptured appendix. If the appendix had ruptured, a person usually may need to stay for 1 or 2 days in the hospital to remain under observation after appendectomy.

However, with advancements in medical technology, discharge on the same day following appendectomy has been made safe with low rates of complications or readmissions. For an open appendectomy surgery  with a large incision through the abdomen or a laparoscopic appendectomy with 1 to 3 small incisions, it is important to take care with the following 6 tips for recovery:

  1. Rest - One requires to sleep much more than usual for the first week to 10 days in order to allow the body to focus on uninterrupted healing. The natural response of the body after surgery is to take a break from regular activity and divert the energy to recuperate. With abdominal surgery done for removal of the appendix, this period of restricted physical activity is all the more important because of the cuts made through the superficial muscles as well as the innermost layer of the abdominal wall that hold the internal organs in place. Physical activities if resumed before complete healing of internal layers can lead to the development of a hernia. A part of the intestine that squeezes out of the still-healing abdominal cavity as a hernia needs repair and can result in the requirement for more abdominal surgery.
  2. Care instructions - Instructions are given by the doctor at the time of discharge from the hospital are important to be followed. These instructions normally include wound care, dietary advice and how to identify signs of possible complications specifically related to appendectomy. These instructions will also include limits on activities necessary to allow proper healing that would include refraining from lifting heavy objects and wearing tight clothing, splinting with a pillow over the stomach to protect the incision sites while sneezing or coughing etc., Tips on activities would be to avoid strenuous activities such as vacuuming, lifting children and groceries, driving, doing laundry, moving furniture, mowing lawns and sports activities. Walking within the pain limit is the only activity that can be done soon after the appendectomy and climbing stairs may be in moderation. Resuming sexual activity may be discussed with the doctor during the follow-up visits. In general, to achieve smoother recovery, it is advised to follow homecare instructions more closely as instructed specifically by the surgeon who conducted the procedure.
  3. Diet – Returning to the same diet as before the appendectomy can take time. Eating smaller portions in a more frequent manner like having 6 to 8 small meals throughout the day can help in a gradual transition to the regular diet. Drinking plenty of water and caffeine-free fluids is important to avoid constipation and bowel problems after appendectomy. Stool softeners may be advised while taking pain medications. Clear liquids may be allowed to be consumed within a few hours of laparoscopic appendectomy and if well tolerated, can be allowed to eat solid foods. Sipping warm water with lemon or peppermint tea can be helpful in relieving gas post the surgery
  4. Pain management – The healing process can slow down when the body is burdened with stress from pain. Tips on how to manage surgical pain can prevent such stress to promote faster recovery. The best strategy for controlling pain after appendectomy is around the clock pain control that is set on a day and night schedule. Prescriptions on pain medications need to be followed exactly on the strength and dosage. Getting pain relief with the smallest possible dose for the shortest possible time would be the goal in managing pain after appendectomy. If pain medications are not helping, it needs to be reported to the doctor for further advice.
  5. Gradual activity - Gentle activity is as important as rest. As time goes by, start activity slowly and increase it gradually towards the comfort levels. Short walks that may be even just around the house could be a great way to start being active and also help to keep safe from developing post-operative conditions like pneumonia or blood clots. Being active and moving around a little whenever possible will also avoid constipation and encourage the digestive system to restore back to normalcy faster. To make sure everything is healing well, visit the surgeon for a follow-up and discuss how long further any activity must be restricted. By the time it's time for a follow-up, adults going to the office may have returned to work but children will have to wait to return to school or physical activities till the doctor gives a clearance.
  6. Signs of infection – Following wound care instructions such as washing hands thoroughly, keeping the incision dry and avoiding tub baths can prevent infection which is the worst complication of appendectomy. Watching out for signs of infection would include redness and swelling around the incision, high fever, chills, vomiting, lack of appetite, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea. Immediate medical attention from the best doctors for appendectomy would be required.

Dr. Karthik Gunasekaran