After Scoliosis Surgery - Home RecoveryRecovery Period: Incision(s)
- Patients may usually begin to shower one-week after surgery. Before showering, tape plastic wrap to cover the incision. Remove the tape and plastic wrap after each shower. This should be done for showers taken during the first week at home. Thereafter, shower without the plastic wrap covering the incision. For safety, it is important to be accompanied in the shower for the first two to three weeks.
- Steri-Strips are usually placed across the incision(s) and will fall off on their own. Do not remove the Steri-Strips unless instructed to do so or if they are dangling.
- If there is a dressing on the incision, change it once a day until there is no staining of the sterile gauze. Thereafter, a dressing is not needed.
- Most patients receive dissolvable stitches which do not require removal.
Recovery Period: Respiratory
Lung (pulmonary) function may slightly decline after scoliosis surgery. To improve breathing function steadily with time, it is helpful to perform respiratory exercises every one to two hours for the first three weeks after surgery. Respiratory exercises include deep breathing using the incentive spirometer provided at the hospital and frequent coughing. Lung function is routinely checked during regular office visits.
Recovery Period: Activity Level
- Most patients are encouraged to walk. However, bending, lifting, and twisting are usually prohibited for several months or until the surgeon approves. Sports are not allowed for at least three months after surgery.
- When activities are resumed, it is recommended to return gradually. Conditioning exercises such as swimming, bicycling, treadmill, or jogging are a good way to start.
- Patients need to be aware of and use good body mechanics for the rest of their lives (e.g. bending, lifting).
- After full healing, most patients will not have activity restrictions. However, certain sports activities such as gymnastics may not be practical. Activities that may be prohibited will be discussed by your surgeon and are dependent on the extent of your spinal fusion. Most patients do not feel restricted.
- Children can return to school by one to two months after surgery. A home tutor can work with the child immediately upon hospital discharge so the surgery does not interfere with schooling.
- Adults may be home from work for as long as three months or more. However, this is variable and should be discussed with the surgeon.
- For adults: an electric adjustable bed, shower chair, elevated toilet seat and extended grasper are helpful for home use after surgery.
Medication: The surgeon may provide a list of medications that may and may not be taken. Usually, all non-steroid medication such as aspirin, Motrin®, and ibuprofen are prohibited. Tylenol can be taken. Birth control pills are stopped prior to surgery as these may increase the risk of blood clot formation during the postoperative period.
Smoking: Smoking impairs bone from healing and hinders fusion. Patients must be committed to stop smoking two months before surgery and for a minimum of six months after surgery. Of course, it would be better just to give up the habit for a lifetime.
Transportation: Avoid frequent car rids and mass transit for six weeks after surgery. Patients can go home from the hospital by car with a pillow behind their back and seatbelt in use.
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