Coronary bypasses, heart transplants, aneurysm repairs and lung surgery may all required your chest to be opened up fully so that surgeons can work in the area they need to reach. Although keyhole procedures are now possible in many cases, open-chest surgery is still sometimes required, depending on the ailment you are suffering from. In the majority of such cases, patients will need to recover in hospital for several days before they are deemed fit enough to be sent home. Recovery will often take weeks—if not months—following a major surgical procedure like this. However, there are many things you can do to help speed up your recovery.
Take Care of Your Wound
A large incision is needed for open chest surgery, and the resulting wound must be looked after, or you could end up with an infection. Large wounds that run across the chest come under pressure from something as simple as breathing, so make sure your movements are sympathetic to the level of recovery you have thus far achieved. Frequent cleaning is required, and you should seek immediate assistance if you notice red patches or warmth around the incision.
Build Up Activity Slowly
Having open-chest surgery does not make you an invalid, but there are some sensible things to avoid. Physical work is out of the question for a while, but you should also avoid anything stressful. Don't try to drive until you have recovered for around eight weeks. A physiotherapist will be able to guide you by showing you what you are capable of—and what you are not—in light physical training sessions. Physiotherapy is a great way of building up muscle tone away from the wound so your chest is placed under less pressure when moving around. You should steer clear all forms of heavy lifting. Try to avoid standing in one place for any longer than a quarter of an hour, too.
Focus on Well-Being
Being emotionally strong after a major surgery is well-known to have a positive impact on recovery. Get up and about every day as soon as you are able, but be prepared to return to bed if you tire. Aim for a good night's sleep. Avoiding alcohol will help with this. See friends and family to keep your spirits up, but limit the time spent with them so that you can rest sufficiently.
A good diet is advisable when recovering from open-chest surgery. Healthy foods that promote growth are ideal. If you feel you cannot eat substantial meals, then go for a little-and-often approach. Grazing is often the best method until your appetite fully returns.