If you are scheduled for a laparotomy, you may not know what to expect. This is a surgery in which the internal organs in the abdomen are looked at to find any problems. The incision is generally anywhere between 15 and 20 cm in length. It is most often placed just below the bikini line and is very similar to an incision that is made for a caesarean section. In addition to the general tools that are used, surgeons will use laparotomy sponges or other types of medical sponges to make the process go more smoothly. The procedure can take anywhere from one hour to several hours depending on what the surgeon finds and what the issues the patient is dealing with that are the reason for the operation.
There are some things you can do to make the experience go better, here are a few:
- Get up and walk around as soon as you can. You may not be in the mood to do this but you should get up and start walking around as soon as you can after your surgery. In some instances, surgeons introduce some inert gas into the abdomen to make it easier to see the various structures and organs. When that is the case, getting up and walking around will make that work itself out of your system much faster.
- Pay attention to your incision. While you should have no issues caused by the laparotomy sponges, it is important to take care of your incision site. You should always wash your hands before you change the dressing. Your doctor’s office will give you some guidance as to how often you need to change it and what to do if there are issues. If you see any signs of infection, you should call your doctor’s office. You should not take baths or swim until it is healed. Ask your doctor about showering.
- Get as much rest as you need. Any time you have any kind of surgery, your body will need some time to heal. That means you need some time to rest. You may be more tired than you are used to being after your operation so make sure you can take some time off afterwards. During this time, you should let the people around you take care of you. The people who care about you want to help, let them!
- Follow your doctor’s instructions. Your doctor’s office will send you home with a set of post-op instructions. They are not giving those to you for the fun of it, they want you to heal as quickly as possible. You should make it a point to follow the instructions to the letter. If you have any questions, make sure you get them answered. You need to understand the instructions if you are going to be able to follow them.
- Take your pain medicine before the pain gets really bad. Many people are reluctant to take the pain medication that is prescribed by their doctor. If you are in pain, especially for the first few days, try to take the medication as directed but do not wait until the pain is too great. If you find you are in a lot of pain but the time has not come for you to take a pill, you should take one early and contact your doctor’s office to see if they have any suggestions.
- Be careful with what you eat. You may want to stock up on some comfort foods that are easy on your system to have after your procedure. The only goal you should have with your food is to just get nutritious meals that you can tolerate and enjoy.
- Do not be afraid to call your doctor (even after hours) if you need to. You may have complications come up. While it is not common, laparotomy sponges have been left in people, for instance. It is very rare for these laparotomy sponges to cause problems. If you have any problems at all, you should check with your doctor’s office. If you problem happens after their office closes for the day, there are still going to be people there who can help you. Never hesitate to contact your office when you need to.