Surgery is a scary thing. Being informed about the process can help alleviate anxiety and put your mind at ease before and after going into the operating room. Here are 5 commonly asked questions about foot and ankle surgery from a Minneapolis Orthopedic Surgeon.
1. When will my wound heal, or when will my stitches be removed?
Ankle and foot wounds heal slower than wounds in other areas of the body. In general, foot and ankle wounds heal by 14 days after surgery. At Silverman Ankle & Foot, we use absorbing stitches. These sutures create little foreign body response, and the wounds are less painful, less red, and less swollen.
2. How long after surgery should I wait before I drive?
With an automatic transmission, you can start driving with your non-operative foot when your three day elevation period is over, and you no longer require much pain medication. Learning to drive with your left foot can be challenging, but with a little practice you can re-learn pretty quickly. If you drive a manual transmission or if you have surgery on both feet at the same time, you shouldn’t drive until you’ve healed sufficiently. This varies greatly depending on the surgery performed. When in doubt, always follow your surgeon’s instructions.
3. How long do I have to keep my leg elevated after surgery?
Wounds usually seal and stop bleeding three days after operating. Strict elevation for 23 hours per day during this ‘sealing’ period is absolutely essential. After this period, let pain and swelling be your guide – if it hurts or swells, elevate it.
4. How long will the pain last?
Every patient interprets pain differently. The amount of pain is also dependent on the type of surgery performed. The most intense will come in the first few days following surgery. With soft tissue surgery, pain usually resolves significantly by three days after the operation. In surgery involving bone, pain is more intense at first and may take 5-7 days before you can stop taking pain meds on a regular basis. If your pain requires increasing doses of narcotics beyond this 5-7 day period, consult your doctor or surgeon immediately.
5. When will I be able to bear weight/walk again?
The ability to bear weight on your leg varies from the day of surgery to weeks or months after surgery. When you can weight bear depends entirely on the type of surgery performed. Read more on the importance of staying non-weight bearing after surgery.
Lance Silverman, MD
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