7 Mistakes That Slow Recovery After Surgery


If you are anticipating surgery soon, then apart from the procedure, complications and recovery after the operation can be worrisome. At this stage, you may be unaware of the precautionary steps you need to take to ensure proper recovery. Even if you had surgery, then it is understandable that you would want to recover and get your life back to normal as soon as possible. To achieve that, it is crucial to follow your doctor's post-op surgical advice to ensure a full recovery.

However, one of the biggest mistakes you can make post-op is trying to accelerate your recovery and doing more than you should. May it include not resting enough, exercising, driving, cheating on your diet, or going to work. The consequences of these actions can be severe and can worsen your condition. Keep in mind that the restrictions your doctor imposed upon you are designed to aid your long-term recovery. And they recommend that you should ease into your daily routine very slowly and even make permanent modifications to your lifestyle in some cases. For this reason, let us discuss some mistakes that can slow down your recovery post-op.

1. Not completing your medication course

Some people tend to stop taking their medications once they start feeling a little better. However, your medicines are prescribed for a certain period to ensure that they fully affect the body, so you can recover completely. This case is especially true for antibiotics because if you don’t complete your medication course, it can negatively affect your recovery and health.

If your medication course is too strict or complicated, consider hiring a dedicated nurse who can look after your needs and medications. But make sure that they have a master of science in nursing, ensuring they are qualified enough to look after patients without supervision. They can help you in managing your everyday routine and help you take your medication as well.

2. Not eating or drinking enough

It is natural not to have an appetite after your surgery. Apart from that, other factors such as nausea or constipation may also prevent you from having a proper meal. However, you still need to have some nourishment and stay hydrated to recover. Food gives your cells and muscles energy. If you don't get enough food and fluids, it can slow down your bodily function and, in turn, slow down your recovery. However, keep your doctor's advice in mind about dietary restrictions.

3. Poor wound care

When the wound begins healing, there will be some swelling and redness in the area surrounding the incision site. The swelling and redness are completely natural as it is part of your body's healing process. During this stage, the skin acts as an essential protective barrier against germs and dirt. Any small break in the skin can become an entry point for germs. Hence, it is crucial to keep your wound clean at all times. But changing dressings too often is not the right solution either. If your dressing is dry and clean, you can leave it undisturbed for a few days at a time. Doctors recommend against removing the dressing or cleaning the wound during the early stages of your healing process, as any disturbance can disrupt your healing process. Therefore, you must follow the doctor's advice strictly regarding wound care and have a nurse check and change your wound dressing whenever necessary.

4. Returning to work before you’re ready

Perhaps your boss is messaging you that they are short-staffed, or your co-workers are telling you that everything is falling apart without you. You may be feeling guilty for taking so much time off work, or maybe you are facing financial issues during your recovery break. Whatever your reasons may be, going off to work before you have fully recovered can end up harming you even more. In the worst-case scenario, you may need additional treatments to deal with the complications and may also need to take more time off of work than originally planned. Therefore, keep your health and your strength in mind when prioritizing anything, so only do what your body can physically handle.

5. Not following through with physical therapy

A minor surgery does not require too much assistance, and you may get by after a few sessions of physical therapy. However, major surgery such as hip or knee replacement may require several physical therapy sessions that may span over weeks and months. The reason is that your body needs time to adjust to the new alterations in your body.

The biggest mistake people make in this regard is that they think that they don’t need physical therapy and skip the ongoing sessions. But skipping physical therapy or failing to keep up with the schedule only prolongs recovery, and it would mean that it would take you longer to resume normal bodily functions.

6. Not doing exercises at home

some major surgeries, such as those performed on your heart, lungs, spine, or belling, require extended physical therapy, which may continue even while you are at home. For example, you may need to do some breathing exercises so that your body and lungs can recover from the after-effects of anesthesia on your body. These breathing exercises help clear mucus from the lungs and help them resume their normal capacity. Not doing these exercises means that your recovery may prolong, and you may experience breathing issues for a long time afterward. Hence, you should not stop doing these exercises unless your doctor tells you to stop.

7. Staying in bed too long

Just like resuming work too quickly can lead to complications, overdoing your bed rest can also negatively impact your recovery. Because if you're resting too much instead of gradually increasing movement, it can lead to severe complications such as muscle wasting, blood clots, pressure ulcers, constipation, and pulmonary embolisms. Hence, maintain a balance between activities and rest to ensure a full recovery.


It is normal to feel drained and tired after your surgery. The need to take medication for discomfort, physical therapy, and other aspects of the recovery can also tire you out. But it is crucial for the sake of your long-term health and to ensure that you don't develop any severe symptoms that may need further treatment. However, it can be rather concerning if you are experiencing any symptoms, such as unmanageable pain or fever, after the first week of surgery. In that case, consult your doctor immediately and follow their advice down to the last dot.