7 Things We Want All Patients to Know Before Foot Surgery
So the doctor is recommending foot surgery. You were hoping for another outcome, of course. But you probably had an idea that this was coming. With the date coming up, you’re starting to wonder: Did I make the right choice? Am I ready for this? Is it going to work? We hear you. We do a lot of foot surgeries at the Foot & Ankle Center of Oklahoma, so we know firsthand the kinds of questions and concerns our patients have. They’re totally understandable! And we’re firmly committed to helping each person through the process, in order to make the entire ordeal as comfortable and successful as possible. Here are 7 quick things every patient should keep in mind before their surgery:
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.We want every patient to be as knowledgeable, comfortable, and confident as possible before and after their surgery. The more informed you are, the better decisions you can make, and the better prepared you are for aftercare. We are here for you. Ask us anything you want. Ask us to clarify anything you don’t understand. Give us a call anytime if you think of something when you’re back at home. We’d rather you have too much information than not enough!
Don’t be afraid to seek out a second opinion.Second opinions can be an important part of the decision-making process for any facing a major medical procedure. In fact, some medical insurance plans may require it in the case of elective surgery. Most of the time, the second doctor is probably going to tell you exactly the same thing that the first doctor told you. But even this has value—it leaves you with greater peace of mind that your decision is the correct one. However, another doctor may provide a different perspective, or have additional training or treatment options available for you. At our office, for example, we provide certain advanced conservative procedures (such as shockwave) and surgeries (including the Lapiplasty bunion surgery) that may not be available elsewhere and be a better fit for your needs.
Give up smoking and alcohol, as quickly as possible.Smoking and excessive drinking both have a measurable negative effect on surgery—especially smoking. Both activities can reduce your circulation. This greatly increases your risk of post-surgical infections and complications, and can slow down the healing process. The earlier you quit before your surgery, the better. And consider it an opportunity to help you quit for good.
Prepare for your recovery period beforehand.This one is huge. Almost any foot surgery is going to involve some amount of downtime during your recovery. More minor procedures might allow moderate weight bearing right away; more serious ones might keep you off your feet entirely for a few weeks. Think about how that kind of reduced mobility will affect your ability to accomplish basic tasks and chores—shopping, cooking, bathing, sleeping, etc.—and then prepare for them proactively. For example:
- Coordinate with caregivers (family, friends, etc.) so that you have some close-at-hand assistance during your recovery.
- Stock up on consumables—food, toilet paper, etc.—so you don’t have to leave the house for goods.
- If your bedroom is upstairs or in the basement, set up a sleeping area on the main floor to minimize the need to go up and down stairs.
- Set out clothes in advance and place often-used items in easy-to-reach locations.
- Prepare several “heat and serve” meals beforehand so you don’t have to do much work in the kitchen.
- Give your home or apartment a good cleaning and de-clutter any low-lying obstacles so that you can get around easily.
- Set up your bathroom with shower chairs, grab bars, etc. to help you care for yourself if you need them.
- Pick out a bunch of books, movies, crafts, projects, etc. beforehand and have them at-the-ready so you don’t get bored!
Take your pre-surgical instructions very seriously.We’ll give you a list of instructions for the day of surgery. For example, if your procedure requires general anesthesia, we may ask you not to eat or drink anything after midnight the day of surgery. Other common instructions include wearing loose-fitting clothes, bringing essential documents (ID, insurance card, cash, list of medications), making sure you have driver lined up after surgery, etc. These instructions are really important. They are for your health and protection. Trust us, we aren’t going to ask you to do anything unnecessary. For example, if there’s something in your stomach—and the anesthesia or surgery cause you to vomit—this can greatly complicate your surgery and increase personal risk. The rules aren’t difficult to understand or follow, but you still have to do them!
Follow your aftercare instructions to the letter.Here’s the truth. Surgery isn’t just something that’s “done” to you by a surgeon. That’s only the first half of the equation. The ultimate success of any procedure depends partially on the skill and decision-making of your surgeon, but also partially on how well you manage your aftercare. You’ll be given specific instructions and timelines on matters such as bathing, diet, weight bearing, and rehab. Please, please, please take them to heart. Again, we wouldn’t ask you to do something if it weren’t necessary. Unfortunately, many people are tempted to jump the gun on returning to certain activities, modifying their rehab schedule, or taking unnecessary risks. It can be especially tempting to disregard your instructions if you feel like things are actually ahead of schedule. But the fact that your pain is reduced doesn’t mean you’re necessarily healed, or it’s safe to move to the next phase of recovery. The guidelines are there to help you get better as quickly as possible, with the least risk.
If you follow the above guidelines, complications are rare.We don’t want to scare you off. Sure, no one really likes surgery. It’s going to disrupt your schedule for a bit. Dealing with limited mobility isn’t fun. But we’re really quite good at what we do, and while it’s incredibly important that you follow all instructions for your aftercare, they aren’t really that difficult if you take the time to ask questions and prepare yourself. As long as you take the process seriously, your prognosis will likely be a good one—and that means more years of pain-free activity! Is it time you talked to someone about your foot pain? Give Dr. Darren Elenburg a call at (405) 418-2676 today.
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