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After your operation you should always follow the advice given by the staff looking after you, which will help you make a speedy recovery.
Deep breathing exercises: After the operation breathing often becomes shallower, which means only the upper part of your lungs expands. As the lower areas don’t expand enough, there is an increased risk of you developing a chest infection. To prevent this you must do regular deep breathing and supported coughing to expand the lower parts of your lungs and clear out secretions.
Get more mobile: It is also important that you sit out of bed and start moving around as soon as possible. By doing this you will help loosen any secretions in your lungs and prevent other problems, such as pressure sores, deep vein thrombosis and constipation.
This is vital for anyone who has had lung surgery no matter how small or large the operation. If you have had a thoracotomy incision or need extra assistance you will be seen daily by a physiotherapist.
Shoulder exercises and posture: You will be shown how to do shoulder and posture exercises by the nurses or physiotherapist. These will prevent joint stiffness on the side of your operation. Good posture is also important to prevent back problems later on.
Nutrition: It is important that you are well nourished before your operation so that your body has resources to help it to heal well. If, before you come into hospital, you have lost weight without trying to do so or feel your appetite is poor, please tell the nurses. They can arrange for you to see a dietitian.
Most people find that they lose their appetite or feel sick for a couple of days after an operation. Tell your nurse if you are having problems with this. The dietitian will be able to give advice about foods that you may be able to manage or supplements. If nausea is a problem, your doctor can prescribe some anti-sickness medicines.
Wound care: Your wound and the dressing will be checked daily by the nurses. While you still have a chest drain you will not be able to have a bath or shower. Once the drain is removed you may bathe but it is still important to keep the wound clean and dry. If you are concerned about your wound or dressings at any stage, please tell the nurses.