Frequently Asked Questions

What is the recovery time?
How long do I need a bandage?
How long should I use elastic stockings (TEDS)?
Should I use ice or heat?
When can I shower (get incision wet)?
How long will I be on pain medicine?
What activities can I do after surgery?
What exercises should I do?
Can I have sex?
When can I drive?
When can I return to work?
When can I travel?
Will my spinal implants set off the machines at airport security?
How long should I take iron supplements?
What should I do about constipation after surgery?
Can I drink alcohol?
I feel depressed. Is this normal?
When do I need to follow up with my surgeon?
When can I place my incision in water (bathe, swimming pool, ocean, hot tub)?

What is the recovery time?
Everyone heals from surgery at a different pace. It usually takes about three months to gradually return to normal function.

How long do I need a bandage?
You should use a bandage for about one week until your incision is closed and there is no fluid oozing from your wound. It should be changed daily to a new, dry, sterile gauze. You may continue to wear a bandage to protect the incision from the irritation of clothing.

How long should I use elastic stockings (TEDS)?
These should be used for the first week in order to help reduce swelling and improve circulation. You may wear them longer, especially if you find that your ankles swell without them.

Should I use ice or heat?
Ice should be used for the first several days, particularly if you have a lot of swelling or discomfort.

When can I shower (get incision wet)?
It is usually advised that you wait one week after surgery before showering, or until the wound is closed. If no drainage is present at the incision, your surgeon may agree that you can shower earlier. Initially, try to keep the incision dry with a plastic wrap. If it gets wet, pat it dry.

How long will I be on pain medicine?
You may need some form of pain medicine. At first, you will take a strong medicine, such as a narcotic. You can then change to an over-the-counter pain medicine such as Tylenol.

What activities can I do after surgery?
You may return to most activities when you feel up to it. Please discuss this with your physician at your follow-up visit.

What exercises should I do?
Walking is the preferred exercise until you see your surgeon at follow-up.

Can I have sex?
For the most part, you can gradually resume sexual activity when you are comfortable.

When can I drive?
You should not drive until you can manage your pain without narcotics.

When can I return to work?
This depends on the type of work you do. You may return to work after about one month. If your work is more rigorous, you may require longer. Check with your surgeon.

When can I travel?
You may travel as soon as you feel comfortable, but avoid long-distance travel for four to six weeks or until after seeing your surgeon. We advise you to get up to stretch or walk at least once an hour when taking long trips.

Will my spinal implants set off the machines at airport security?
The increasing sensitivity of security detectors at airports and public buildings may cause your prosthesis to trigger an alert. In some situations, security guards may also move a wand up and down your back to locate your implants. They may also pad you down on the area that triggers the wand.

How long should I take iron supplements?
Four weeks are usually enough time to build up blood after surgery.

What should I do about constipation after surgery?
It is very common to have constipation after surgery, especially when taking narcotic pain medicine. A simple over-the-counter stool softener (such as Colace) is the best way to prevent this problem. Increasing fruits and vegetables in your diet will also help. In rare instances, you may require a suppository or enema.

Can I drink alcohol?
Alcohol use is not advised until you have stopped your narcotic pain medicine and are walking steadily.

I feel depressed. Is this normal?
It is common to have feelings of depression or trouble sleeping after your surgery. This may be due to a variety of factors such as difficulty getting around, discomfort or increased dependency on others. These feelings will typically fade as you begin to return to your regular activities. If they continue, consult your primary care doctor.

When do I need to follow up with my surgeon?
Follow-up appointments are usually made after surgery at four to six weeks.

When can I place my incision in water (bathe, swimming pool, ocean, hot tub)?
You can bathe or swim after stitches have been removed or about two weeks after surgery if there is no drainage from your incision. Please ask your surgeon.

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10/27: Community Forum on Ebola Preparedness

Medical experts from Newton-Wellesley, the city of Newton, and Mass General will present about ebola, with a Q&A session. Mon, Oct. 27, NWH Shipley Auditorium - 7:00 to  8:30 pm
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10/28: Free Running Clinic

Join us on Tuesday, Oct. 28, from 6:00-8:00 pm in the Shipley Auditorium at Newton-Wellesley Hospital for a free presentation for beginner and intermediate runners. Registration required.
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