Recovering After Surgery: How Long Will It Take?

How Long Should My Recovery Last

Doctor talking to recovering patient after surgery
Sean Locke/Stocksy United

Question: Recovering After Surgery

I am having surgery next week and I keep getting different estimates of how long my recovery after surgery will take. On the internet it says six weeks, my doctor says eight weeks, and a friend who had the same surgery says four. Who should I believe?

Answer:

The length of time you will require for a complete recovery after surgery is difficult for anyone to predict.

It is truly an educated guess, as there is always the potential for complications and every person heals differently.

Your surgeon will have the best idea of how long your recovery can take, as they will be aware of all the facets of your health, including your age, any medical conditions you may have, the specifics of your procedure, and anything else that could impact your recovery.  Something as simple as your age could dramatically change the length of time your recovery will last. 

While each patient is unique, many surgeries can be done in several different ways. For example, a minimally invasive hysterectomy may require only a few weeks of recovery time, while the open procedure with an abdominal incision could take ten to twelve weeks for recovery. This is another reason why predictions of how long your recovery will take vary widely from one source to another.

Take you friend's advice as what it is: free advice.

 You may get some helpful hints from your friend, such as whether or not they needed help with the essentials of life (taking a shower, cooking a meal) and what worked for them when they had pain or discomfort. Your surgeon's advice is more likely to be accurate when predicting how long it will take before you are ready to return to all of your normal activities.

Ten Ways to Recover Faster After Surgery

Sources:

Having Surgery? What You Need To Know. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. www.ahrq.gov/consumer/surgery/surgery.pdf

How Can I Recover From Heart Surgery? The American Heart Association. 2007. http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@hcm/documents/downloadable/ucm_300447.pdf

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