Appendicitis is a medical emergency that is characterized by a swollen, infected, or inflamed appendix. This will mostly happen when the appendix gets blocked, leading to pain in the abdomen. If left untreated, there is the risk of the appendix bursting. Appendectomy, the surgical removal of the body organ, is the standard treatment for the condition. Preparing yourself mentally and physically for surgery will go a long way in boosting recovery. Here is what to know about the procedure.
How Long Does it Take to Recover From an Appendectomy?
You can live a normal life without an appendix, and will not need to make any changes to your diet and lifestyle. To remove your appendix, your doctor can either make small cuts in your belly or conduct open surgery. How long it takes to recover from an appendectomy will largely depend on the type of surgery you undergo. After laparoscopic surgery, you can expect to resume your normal routine in about one to three weeks. Open surgery, on the other hand, will require a recovery time of two to four weeks. With a ruptured appendix, recovery time may be longer than six weeks.
There are several steps you can take to ensure quicker healing after the surgery. First, you have to take care of the incision by ensuring it is clean and keeping an eye on any signs of infection. You may also consider light physical activity and getting proper sleep. Maintain a healthy, balanced diet, drink plenty of fluids, and take medicines as directed by your doctor. Take sponge baths during this period until the stitches are removed and avoid tight clothes that could rub against the incision area. Follow-up care will also be critical in ensuring safety and proper treatment.
How Long are You in the Hospital After Surgery?
The majority of patients will be in the hospital for one or two days after the surgery. Recovery time will be shorter for laparoscopic surgery compared to open surgery. When an abscess has formed, or the appendix has broken open, recovery is likely to be slower and more complicated. In the first 24 hours following laparoscopic surgery, you may experience pain on your shoulders. During this period, postoperative care will include wound care and pain management. The doctor will monitor vital signs like breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, and complications to determine whether you can be discharged from the medical facility.
When getting ready for an appendectomy, you should know what to expect and how to make your hospital stay more bearable. Bring a fully-equipped hospital bag with you so that you have all the items you need to make the stay comfortable. In case you need anything, or there is an emergency, do not hesitate to alert the nursing staff by pushing the help button.
What are the Side Effects of the Surgery?
Knowledge of the possible effects of appendectomy will help you prepare better for the surgery. Before undergoing the procedure, you should avoid eating at least eight hours prior to the surgery. This will make it easy for the doctor to see the abdominal cavity and reduce the risk of complications. Depending on the advice of the medical team, you should not take certain medications. For instance, insulin will make it difficult for you to eat immediately after surgery.
You should expect to feel weak and tired once you return home from the hospital. Some complications commonly associated with the surgery are bleeding, wound infection, belly inflammation, blocked bowels, and injury to nearby organs. You may also experience fever higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit, persistent pain that gets worse, severe abdominal pain and vomiting, and constipation. Some side effects may be unique to you, so speak to your doctor in case of unexpected symptoms or concerns.
What Care Do I Need to Take After the Surgery?
After receiving postoperative care in the hospital for a few days, you will be discharged and guided on the care you should take while at home. Here are a few things you can focus on to promote quick recovery:
Try to walk every day to boost blood flow and prevent constipation. Avoid strenuous activities such as cycling and weightlifting or lifting anything that would make you strain. You should avoid taking a bath until the doctor says it is okay, but you must ensure that the incision is kept clean and dry. Get enough sleep and take a rest whenever you feel tired.
After the surgery, you may experience irregular bowel movements. A balanced diet and fibre supplement will go a long way in dealing with this and help you avoid constipation. It is also important to drink plenty of fluids unless the doctor tells you not to. When you have a stomach upset, go for low-fat foods like broiled chicken, plain rice, yoghurt, and toast.
Your doctor will prescribe new medicines and advise you on when you can restart your medicines. Make sure you take the full course of all the medication as instructed and avoid taking two or more pain medicines simultaneously. Ask your doctor for different pain medicine if the one they prescribed is causing stomach irritation.
Whether you had open or laparoscopic surgery, you must ensure that the incision area is always clean and dry. For the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery, wash the area with warm water and pat it dry. In case of a ruptured appendix, change the packing in the incision as instructed by your doctor.
When to Call for Help
Call your doctor any time you think you may need emergency care, including when you pass out, are short of breath, have signs of infection, or cannot pass stool.
Appendicitis should be treated with surgery as soon as possible to avoid the risk of your appendix rupturing and causing life-threatening infections. It is important to consult an experienced surgeon to minimize the risk of complications associated with surgical procedures. North Texas Medical Center is a premium medical facility and OB/GYN in Gainesville TX with qualified healthcare professionals. Contact us today to learn more.