When will I be able to drive?

Initially driving is restricted to avoid any injury to your breastbone during the healing process. You may be a passenger and you should wear your seat belt. During a typical post-operative course, you are cleared to drive after a follow-up appointment with your surgeon. If you had a minimally invasive directed bypass through a lateral incision you may resume driving within two weeks. If you are riding more than two hours at a time, please make frequent stops every two hours to allow time for walking.

When will I stop wearing the white compression hose?

You may stop wearing the compression hose on the day of your post-operative follow-up appointment with your surgeon unless otherwise directed. Typically compression hose are applied to both lower extremities in the morning and removed in the evening. Note: You should have assistance with putting on and removing the hose during the sternal bone healing-please.

How long will I take the prescribed medications after my surgery?

Your new medication regimen will be a team effort between your surgeon and your cardiologist. If you have any questions about medications prior to the follow-up appointment with your cardiologist, they should be directed to our office.

When will I feel “normal” again?

Following major surgery, recovery time varies by individual. However, most patients say that their energy level and appetite are back to a normal level four to six weeks after surgery.

Why am I having trouble sleeping after surgery?

Frequently, our patients experience difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep for long periods of time for the first few weeks after surgery. This is due to the effects of anesthesia on the circadian rhythm (the sleep-wake cycle of the body). This also usually resolves in four to six weeks after surgery.

When can I golf again?

Following surgery, you will need to take special care to protect the sternum (breastbone). You may chip/putt six weeks after surgery and may return to a full swing three months after surgery.

What are my activity restrictions following surgery?

A crucial element to post-operative care following open-heart surgery is protecting the sternum (breastbone). Therefore, you may not lift/push/pull more than five to ten pounds on discharge from the hospital. You may increase the amount lifted/pushed/pulled by ten pounds per month following surgery with a gradual increase to 50 pounds by six months after surgery. Walking is highly encouraged to the extent that your energy level will allow, gradually increasing the distance. Please set a comfortable pace. You should be able to easily carry on a conversation while walking. Other activity is dictated on a case-by-case basis.

How long will I be in the hospital following surgery?

During a typical post-operative course, most patients are in the hospital for five to seven days following surgery. However, this can vary widely based on past medical history and the procedure performed.

What are common signs of infection?

Redness, heat and drainage at the incision site. Please contact the office if you notice any of these signs.

Is pain across my breast normal after open-heart surgery?

Yes. One of the vessels commonly used in coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery is the internal mammary artery. Frequently, our patients complain of pain across their breasts.

Are mood swings normal following surgery?

Yes. Our patients frequently experience a wide variety of emotions following surgery, especially in unplanned surgeries. Emotions may vary day to day. You can help improve your mood by getting daily exercise, getting dressed each morning as you normally would, resuming social activities and assisting with simple tasks at home. Mended Hearts is a support group for patients who have undergone cardiac surgery. They can be reached at 1-888HEART99 (1-888-432-7899).

When will I start cardiac rehab?

Cardiac rehab is an essential part of the healing process following cardiac surgery. You will be cleared to start cardiac rehab at a facility of your choice during the post-operative follow-up appointment with your surgeon. Our office will assist with scheduling your cardiac rehab.

How should I care for my incisions?

Wash your incisions daily in the shower using a clean washcloth and antibacterial soap. After showering, pat incisions dry with a clean towel. You should not apply lotions, creams, powders, or ointments to the incisions until they are completely healed with no open areas.

When will the swelling in my legs decrease?

Patients frequently experience swelling in their legs during the first month after surgery. However, wearing compression hose and elevating your legs between walks, aids in the decrease of swelling. Please weigh daily at about the same time each day. If you show a weight gain of more than two to three pounds for two consecutive days, please call our office.

When can I resume sexual activity?

Patients are asked to refrain from all sexual activity for three weeks following surgery. At that time, patients may resume sexual activity as long as the positioning does not endanger the sternum (breastbone).

When can I swim or use a spa?

Do not submerge incisions in standing water immediately after discharge from the hospital, as this may allow bacteria to enter. Swimming may be resumed 12 weeks after discharge if your sternum is stable and your physician determines that the incisions are healed. Spa use should be approved by your cardiologist prior to participation.