How Do You Manage Edema After Surgery?
If you’re worried about or are experiencing swelling after a surgical procedure, there are steps you can take to prevent and manage edema after surgery to avoid dealing with discomfort or pain. If you’ve recently had surgery, here are some techniques your doctor may recommend to help reduce swelling and manage edema after surgery.
The fluids in your body are affected by gravity. When you’re sitting down all day, it’s easy for fluid to pool in your lower extremities, which can lead to edema. This is why a lack of mobility is one of the potential causes of edema.
Fortunately, you can manage edema better by keeping the affected parts of your body elevated as much as possible. If you’re experiencing swelling in your legs, ankles, and feet, you can sit or lie down and prop your leg up on a couple of pillows. You can also try lying on your side, lifting one arm up, and holding it there for a few seconds at a time to promote the flow of fluids in your arm.
An important tip is to elevate extremities above the heart when you’re trying to reduce swelling, as this will help fluids flow directly to this area to recirculate. Elevating your leg or arm may be easier when you’re lying down.
If you’re at risk for edema after surgery, you might want to talk to your doctor or surgeon about wearing compression garments. Compression garments and devices use light compression to help encourage the flow of blood and fluids throughout your body.
Before using compression garments or devices, make sure you talk to your doctor about whether they’re safe for you. Improper use of compression garments can lead to further complications in patients with edema, so it’s also important to follow any instructions your doctor or surgeon provides.
As an alternative to traditional compression garments, Tactile Medical offers the Flexitouch Plus System. This pneumatic compression device stimulates the lymphatic system by delivering pressure in 1-3 second increments to direct fluid across the body. Our customized treatment options make it easy to manage swelling, reduce pain, and regain mobility.
3. Light movement
Inactivity can increase your risk of developing edema after surgery, which is one of the reasons post-surgery swelling is so common. Depending on the procedure you had done, it might be difficult to move around and stay active while you’re recovering from surgery.
Even if you can’t walk as a result of your surgery, you can still lower your risk of edema after surgery by incorporating some light activities into your daily routine. There are lymphedema exercises that can help promote lymphatic drainage and improve circulation to relieve swelling. If you’re not sure how to stay active after surgery, your surgeon or physical therapist may be able to offer some advice.
Massage therapy is another way you can prevent swelling that occurs after surgery. Gentle massaging can help promote the flow of fluid through your body, so you can work fluid away from swollen areas and reduce swelling and discomfort. While a massage can be a good way to manage edema, it’s important to talk to your physician first. There are certain techniques you should follow, and your physician may recommend other treatments depending on your condition.
Manual lymphatic drainage therapy is a popular lymphedema treatment option that involves using a sequence of hand motions to redirect fluid to less congested parts of the lymphatic system. While this can be an effective treatment and management method for some, you should talk to a professional before trying lymphatic drainage therapy at home. In most cases, your lymphedema therapist will show you the correct ways to perform manual lymphatic drainage therapy before trying it on your own.
5. Physical therapy
Depending on the type of procedure you had done and how well that procedure went, you may need physical therapy to completely recover from surgery. While physical therapy is primarily focused on restoring strength, mobility, and flexibility in parts of your body that are weaker after an injury or surgery, it can also help relieve the swelling that results from edema.
If you have an upcoming surgery planned, make sure you talk to your surgeon about whether physical therapy is recommended afterward. Physical therapy may not be necessary if you’re having a minor procedure done. Even if you don’t attend physical therapy, it’s important to stay active to prevent edema after surgery.