Support where you need it
The Heart Institute strives to ensure a successful recovery for each and every cardiac surgery patient. How you care for yourself postoperatively is just as important as how we care for you.
How do I take care of my incisions?
Caring for your incisions requires a nightly shower with a mild, unscented soap. Don’t let the pressure of the shower hit the incision (have your back to the water), but the incisions must get soaped up and rinsed off. There are generally no dressings to change after surgery.
When do my stitches come out?
There are actually no stitches on the main incision, instead you will go home with Steri-Strips (little pieces of tape) on the surface of the skin. These will loosen up and come off as you shower. There may be an actual stitch where you had some drains after surgery; these will be taken out by the surgical team prior to discharge or on your postoperative office visit.
Are there any activity restrictions?
After surgery you will not be allowed to lift anything over 10 pounds, drive a car, or use exercise machines. If you have an incision down the middle of your chest you cannot do these things for two months. If you had a minimally invasive approach, you cannot do these things for two weeks.
You also will be wearing white surgical stockings called Teds to prevent swelling of the legs and to prevent blood clots. These go on in the morning and come off at night.
Are there any type of exercises I should do?
It is important to get up and out of bed each day. The main exercise you will be doing is flat level ground walking. Follow the guidelines that were given to you on how much to walk.
- You can use stairs as you need to.
- You can return to work when your doctor gives you clearance.
- You can resume activities such as shopping and dining out as soon as you feel up to it.
When do I see my doctors?
You will need to have follow-up visits with the surgical team, your cardiologist and your primary doctor one to two weeks after you are discharged from the hospital.