What is Thoracic Surgery Recovery Like?

What is Thoracic Surgery Recovery Like? What is thoracic surgery?  Any surgery that is performed with an incision that enters through the chest is considered thoracic surgery, including open heart surgery. Recovering from thoracic surgery is a long process. The recovery process will depend upon the exact type of surgery you have, the placement and size of the incision, the condition of the individual patient, and the care taken post-surgery. What is Thoracic Surgery? Often referred to as open-heart surgery, thoracic surgery may address a problem with the heart, esophagus, lungs, trachea, aorta, or diaphragm. Open heart surgery poses a significant challenge when it comes to healing. It’s going to take time to get back to feeling your best. It’s common to feel very tired and run down for six to eight weeks following the surgery. Your chest may feel swollen and sore for up to six weeks following the surgery. Most patients who have traditional open heart surgery go home with staples or stitches holding the incision closed while it heals. Most also require drainage tubes to remove excess fluid and air that can build up during surgery. Those tubes will most likely be removed before leaving the hospital. If the tubes remain in place, you’ll be given special instructions for post-surgery care. Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery The surgery itself does not have to be an invasive trauma. Minimally invasive, bloodless heart surgery relies upon a much smaller incision and provides a much shorter healing time than traditional open heart surgery. While recovery following any heart surgery is a long and arduous process, it’s important to choose the...

Heart Surgery Scars

Heart Surgery Scars Heart surgery scars are a painful reminder of a long healing process following the trauma of open heart surgery. A sternotomy scar is often large and may remain tender long after the surgery. Surgery is, by nature, an invasive trauma to the body. Scars are the result of the body’s efforts to repair the damage. Why Don’t Scars Go Away? When the dermis, or skin, is damaged, the body does its best to repair the damage. Since the dermis is the first line of defense against invading germs and bacteria, it must be repaired as quickly and efficiently as possible. Therefore, rather than take the time to regrow normal skin, the body resorts to producing large amounts of collagen, a thick, fibrous tissue, producing a scar and protecting the body from invading bacteria. Do the Scars From Open Heart Surgery Go Away? While scars fade over time, a sternotomy scar will never fade entirely. The damage to the dermis and underlying tissue is far too extensive for the body to heal entirely. The scar may remain tender and “tight” for years following the surgery and will never go away. There are steps the patient can take to reduce scarring and help the body heal following surgery, but the open heart surgery scar will always remain. Can You Replace Scar Tissue with Normal Tissue? It is not possible to replace scar tissue. Producing scar tissue and healing the incisions from invasive surgery takes all of the body’s resources. Once the wound is sealed and the body protected from foreign bodies and bacteria, the scar is permanent. It...

What is a Normal Pulse Range

What is a Normal Pulse Range Following surgery, vital signs are carefully monitored in the hospital. You may find that your heart rate after open heart surgery has changed. Symptoms like a speeded up heart rate or a pulse deficit may indicate an fibrillation problem.  Normal Pulse Range The normal pulse rate for adults at rest ranges from 60-100 beats per minute. The normal pulse range can change after a surgery or under continuing stress. It’s important to check with your doctor to ensure your vital signs are where they should be for you. Everyone is different. An “average” is what’s normal for most people in the general population. What’s normal for you may vary. Pulse Deficit A pulse deficit occurs when your doctor can find a difference between the number of heartbeats observed with a monitor (like a stethoscope or EKG) and the pulse that’s able to be felt at the wrist or other pulse point. A pulse deficit happens when your heart is beating but the pulse isn’t reaching the extremities. It may indicate a weakness in your heart, atrial fibrillation, or very early ectopic beats. Vital Signs Your vital signs are the best indicator of your overall heart health. If you’re experiencing a change in your heart rate after open heart surgery, you will want to discuss your heart rate and blood pressure with your doctor. It’s important to learn to monitor your own heart rate at resting and during exercise so that you have a baseline to refer to when checking your pulse.  If you have any questions following your treatment or about your heart...

Better Recovery After Bloodless Heart Surgery

Dr. Giovanni Ciuffo began providing bloodless heart surgery to patients for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Jehovah’s Witnesses must abstain from blood transfusions, according to their bible. Now, many more people are interested in bloodless surgery because of it’s many benefits. Without undergoing a blood transfusion during your surgery, you can be protected from many things — resulting in a quicker and easier recovery. No Blood Transfusions = Better Recovery Bloodless surgery not only helps meet the religious needs of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but also provides multiple specific health benefits. A Strong Immune System During your recovery after traditional surgery with a blood transfusion, your immune system becomes weak and less reactive, making it harder to fight infections. Bloodless heart surgery keeps your immune system strong during your recovery. No Allergic Reactions A blood transfusions cause serious effects on our body and our immune system. Sometimes the effects can manifest as severe allergic reactions. By avoiding a transfusion, patients also avoid allergic reactions that can slow down recovery and cause other problems in the body. No Inflammatory Response Some patients see an accumulation of inflammatory fluids in various organs (lungs, kidneys, muscles) and soft tissues after a transfusion. This inflammatory response effectively slows down the recovery period after traditional heart surgery. This does not happen with bloodless patients. Avoid Blood-Borne Viruses While this is not much of a concern with modern blood screening methods, some patients feel more comfortable without the need to worry about blood borne viruses, like HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and others. Request A Consultation With Dr. Ciuffo Learn about one of our bloodless heart surgery patients who traveled from Australia to receive this specialty from Dr. Ciuffo....

Recovering From Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery

One of the big questions when it comes to researching and preparing for heart surgery is “how will I recover?” Dr. Ciuffo knows that these concerns are stressful, overwhelming, and scary. One of the major benefits of minimally invasive heart surgery over traditional surgery are the improved recovery times, substantially less pain with recovery, and shorter time to normal activities. Even the sick, elderly, and frail patients can enjoy a fast and uneventful recovery.  Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery Recovery Without the dramatic techniques used in traditional heart surgery (i.e. 8 inch incision in chest, broken sternum/ribcage), patients can expect a much easier time post-surgery. One Day Post Surgery The morning after surgery most patients are comfortable and wide awake. The chest tubes, bladder catheters and monitoring lines are removed and our patients are allowed to stand up and sit out of bed in a chair. Affects of anesthesia are present, which may include no appetite, constipation, and bloating. A mild soreness at the incision site is normal and easily managed with pain medication. Patients are also encouraged to walk as much as they are comfortable with and to perform deep breathing exercises to clear their lungs. Two to Three Days Post Surgery During day two and three, patients are awake and comfortable. Any residual symptoms from anesthesia are no longer present. Walking is still encouraged, and patients find that it gets much easier to walk up and down the hospital corridors. Most of Dr. Ciuffo’s patients are able to be discharged home or to a rehab facility in two to three days after surgery. Two Weeks Post Surgery Once our patients are home or at their...