Home Care After Heart Surgery

While your body has a natural healing process that tends to kick into gear after a traumatic experience, certain kinds of wounds and procedures take more of a toll on your health than others. One of the most serious surgeries you can undergo is heart surgery. Because your heart is vital to your health, anything that disrupts it can have a serious impact on the way your body functions. With this in mind, it’s perhaps not surprising that the recovery time from heart surgery generally spans several weeks to a few months, even when performed by a skilled surgeon such as Dr. Ciuffo. There are important steps you’ll need to take when recovering from surgery and practicing home care after surgery in order to regain your health. Wound Care One of the most important parts of home care after surgery is paying close attention to the wound. It’s important to keep the cut as clean and dry as possible. This includes skipping baths or showers for a few days to allow the wound time to heal a bit. You also need to watch out for any abnormalities that could indicate an infection, such as an increase in drainage or oozing, the edges of the incision pulling apart, and a warmth or redness around the cut. Any of these issues could be cause for alarm, particularly if they are accompanied by a fever of over 100° F. Reach out to Dr. Ciuffo’s staff for advice if your wound exhibits any of these issues. Expect the Pain While you are likely to be prescribed some kind of pain medication while recovering...

Healing from Scaring After Heart Surgery

Heart surgery is a procedure that often leaves scars on the chest, sternum, back, abdomen. or other places in which an incision is made. Healing from these scars does not mean that the scars will disappear. However, they will become less pronounced over time, and there are secondary procedures which can be performed following the surgery to reduce or remove these scars. Furthermore, while some incisions are bound to leave major scars, there are a number of incisions that minimize scaring during heart surgery. What Scaring Will There Be? The type of scars that will develop after heart surgery depends upon a number of factors. Most important among these is the type of heart surgery being performed. Open-Heart Surgery is highly invasive and typically requires large incisions be made within the chest and sternum. Heart transplants, valve repairs or replacements, and a number of other procedures are often performed using open heart surgery. There are other forms surgery, which are similarly invasive but do not require cutting open the chest. One such surgery includes the repair of an aneurysm. An aneurysm occurs whenever there is a bulging blood vessel within the body. Thus, this type of “heart surgery” may occur in areas of the body far away from the heart. At the same time, some aneurysm repairs may be minimally invasive. Other forms of minimally invasive heart surgeries include: Certain forms of heart valve replacements or repairs Transmyocardial laser revascularization (TMR), which requires a small incision be made within the chest so that the heart muscle can be exposed to a high-energy laser. This relieves angina by helping the...

Recovering from Heart Surgery

Recovering from heart surgery can take anywhere from a few days to several months. The rate of recovery depends largely upon the type of surgery performed. While open heart surgery will require a longer recovery time, minimally invasive surgeries typically take a much shorter period. There are also other steps involved to ensure complete recovery. Following certain recommendations can also speed up recovery. Nonetheless, heart surgeries often require overall lifestyle changes. Steps to Ensure Complete Recovery Many people want to get out of the hospital as soon as possible after a surgery; however, a complete recovery can often be made much quicker within a hospital. Under the careful observation of medical practitioners, a person can be more able to ensure complete recovery. Whether a person chooses to recover at home or in a medical facility is an issue that the patient, family of the patient, and physician should discuss together. In either case, a personalized plan for recovery should be requested by the patient. If possible, the patient, his or her and family, and the physician will create a plan for recovery together. Can You Speed Up Recovery? There are certain steps that can be taken by all individuals to speed up their recovery after a surgery: Be patient with the healing process, and do not overexert yourself too quickly. This might mean pausing work, exercising less, or doing other things to allow the body the time it needs to heal. Eat a healthy diet. After heart surgery, a diet high in omega 3 fatty acids, CoQ10, folate, vitamin K, monounsaturated fats, magnesium, and other nutrients are recommended. These...

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...