Pain and scarring is often a reality of surgery that is difficult to avoid.
However, physicians say certain actions before and after surgery can help minimize the discomfort and scarring a patient experiences.
Here are some tips from local doctors about what you can do to minimize scarring and best prepare for the discomforts of surgery.
Dr. Jay Dutton, a plastic surgeon and otolaryngologist on staff at Adovcate South Suburban Hospital, says it's important to make sure a patient is getting the proper nutrients prior to surgery.
"You should make sure your vitamins aren't deficient because they are important for the wound healing process," he says.
Dr. Mubarak Mirjat, founder and president of Maximum Rehabilitation Services in Munster, says patients should also spend time in advance preparing for the weeks immediately following surgery. These preparations can help minimize pain that could be experienced during the process of adapting afterward, and can be made with the help of physicians and physical therapists.
"If they need crutches to walk or have any needs where they must have proper training beforehand, a few visits with us beforehand will help them," he says.
Even practicing exercises that will be performed in physical therapy or at home following surgery can minimize discomfort, as well as figuring out a plan on how to best move up and down stairs in multi-level homes.
"Communication is so important," Mubarek says. "Surgery is hard, but post surgery is the mother of harder."
Dr. Adam Conn, a member of Porter Physician Group and part of Associates in Surgery, says talking with a doctor about minimally invasive procedures, which are available for a number of surgical diseases, can produce a game plan that results in less discomfort post surgery.
"We always try to choose the least painful, and the best procedure for the patient," he says.
Laparoscopic and robotic are all options for major abdominal operations, and doctors can perform minimally invasive procedures on hernias, gallbladders and colons, for example, as well.
"The smaller incisions lead to less pain, quicker recoveries and lower risk of post operative infection in most cases," Conn says.
Other options to minimize pain after surgery include using a long-acting local anesthetic that improves pain control for up to three days and using endoscopy to perform anti-reflux surgery for heartburn, he says.
One of the most important things patients should do post surgery is to protect themselves from sun exposure to minimize scarring.
"It can affect the pigmentation of the wound," Dutton says. "You want to have maximum sun block for at least six months after surgery."
Wounds also heal better in a moist environment, so keep it covered with a dressing and moist with a topical treatment, he says.
While Neosporin can speed the healing process, Dutton says he cautions patients to watch out for topical allergic reactions.
"So if you have redness, make sure you stop," he says.
Avoid alcohol early on after surgery, and choose acetaminophen like Tylenol over ibuprofen like Motrin and Aleve.
"Those promote bleeding and will make you bruise more," Dutton says.
If acetaminophen is not strong enough to help with pain, Dutton advises talking with the patient's physician about a controlled substance prescription.
"Continue taking a multivitamin as well," he says. "Make sure you don't have a vitamin deficiency."