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Discharge Instructions for Incontinence Surgery

Your recovery at home will take some time. You will likely need 6–8 weeks to recover fully. The guidelines below will help you heal. Be sure to follow any other instructions that your healthcare provider gives you.

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Avoid Lifting or Straining

Lifting or straining can damage your healing pelvic floor muscles.

  • For the first 6 weeks after surgery, do not lift anything over 5 pounds. This includes children, grocery bags, and briefcases. Also avoid pushing and pulling heavy items, such as a vacuum cleaner.

  • After the first 6 weeks, you can start to lift heavier things. But don’t lift anything over 10–15 pounds until your doctor says it’s okay.

  • While you heal, drink at least 8 glasses of fluids each day. Eat foods high in fiber. This helps prevent constipation, which may lead to straining. Ask your doctor whether you should take laxatives.

Care for Your Incisions

Follow your doctor’s instructions to care for your incisions. Here are some guidelines:

  • Put nothing into your vagina for the first 6–8 weeks. This includes tampons and douches.

  • You may have light vaginal bleeding or discharge for about a week. Use sanitary pads. Do not use tampons.

  • Take showers instead of baths. Getting into and out of the tub can strain an incision.

  • If Steri-Strips were used to close an incision, leave them in place for 1 week(s). After that, you may wet and remove them.

  • Avoid having sex for 6–8 weeks.

Be Active

Follow any advice your doctor or other healthcare provider gives you to help you be active. This may include the following:

  • Take walks often to help your body heal and regain strength after surgery. Ask your doctor how often you should walk and for how long.

  • Do not lift weights, jog, or run until your doctor says that you can.

  • Ask your doctor whether you should avoid climbing stairs and, if so, for how long.

  • Don’t drive until your doctor says it’s okay and you are no longer taking prescription pain medications (about 6 weeks).

Your Return to Work

You can return to work 3–6 weeks after surgery. When you do start working again, be sure to avoid lifting and straining.

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Pain that is severe or seems to be getting worse

  • Fever over 100°F, or chills

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding

  • Lots of blood in your urine

  • Difficulty urinating

  • Swollen, very red, or tender incision

  • Vomiting that won’t stop

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Symptoms of a bladder infection (fever, pain or burning feeling when urinating, needing to urinate but not being able to)

 

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