Your guide to understanding post-operative complications

Abdominal surgery is a very common procedure, with thousands performed each and every day.  Surgery, particularly abdominal surgery, causes significant trauma to the body and recovery can range from intensive physical rehabilitation to a few days bed rest.

Post surgery products

Specifically with abdominal surgery, there are always risks of complications, such as infection, an incisional hernia or adhesions. 

Infections can begin in an incision, the blood or the area surrounding a wound. Here are some small things you can do to greatly improve your chances of recovering from surgery without an infection:

  • Wash your hands - We cannot stress enough how important it is to keep your hands clean. 
  • Take your antibiotics as prescribed – Finishing the entire prescription is essential. 
  • Keep your wound clean and dry – Shower and clean the wound with mild antibacterial soap is best. 
  • Stop smoking – A smoker may be up to six times more likely to have an infection than a non-smoker.  
  • Resist the ointment urge – It can keep the moisture on your skin and in the incision which can encourage the growth of germs. 

An incisional hernia develops when the lining of your abdomen or sometimes part of an abdominal organ, protrudes through the abdominal wall at or near a surgical wound.

The first sign of a hernia is usually a bulge in the area when coughing or straining. Additionally, you may be at risk if: 

  • You return to heavy physical activity too soon after surgery 
  • You’re constipated and straining after surgery 
  • Your wound is low to heal or gets infected 
  • You smoke or have diabetes
  • You have gained a lot of weight 
  • You become pregnant 
  • You cough or sneeze a lot

Lastly, adhesions are bands of tough, fibrous tissue that stop your internal organs from sliding easily against each other. They are often caused by abdominal surgery, but can also occur in response to infection, Crohn’s disease, or, in women, endometriosis. 

While most are harmless, some adhesions can cause:

  • Abdominal pain 
  • Bowel obstruction 
  • Pelvic pain 
  • Infertility 

An alarming nine out of ten patients who undergo abdominal surgery will end up with adhesions, which can even arise years after surgery.

Gently using a scar brush to massage can be started once the incision has healed and deeper scar massage therapy can be performed around the 4-6 weeks mark.  

It’s important to remember not everyone will develop complications after surgery, but awareness is the first step in prevention. 

For more information, download the Heal Better App for a one-stop resource that will guide you through your post-abdominal surgery recovery using medically-backed solutions and evidence-based products.