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Common Complaints After Surgery

Soreness

It is normal to feel “sore all over.” This will improve steadily. Often a warm shower is a good treatment.

Leg Swelling.

If you have a leg incision, you may have swelling. This is to be expected. After removing one of the veins to the leg, blood must find other veins to return from the legs to the heart. These veins gradually dilate to handle the increased flow, and your swelling should improve. Keep your leg elevated when not walking. If you have swelling in a leg where there are no incisions you should see your doctor.

Appetite

It is normal to have a poor appetite after surgery. This is the fate of a combination of factors including anesthesia, medications and surgery. Foods may taste strange and this may last for one or two months. Do not force yourself to eat. Your appetite will return.

Bowel Habits

It is common to experience some irregularity in your bowel habits. These will gradually normalize. Feel free to use nonprescription laxatives as necessary.

Numbness Over the Left Chest

If you have a mammary artery bypass, you may feel numbness over the left chest. This is the area where the artery was removed from behind the breastbone.

Numbness/Tingling in the Little Finger of the Hand

You may experience some sensations in the little and ring fingers of your left or right hand. This is a result of positioning on the operating table and stretching of nerves as the chest is opened for surgery. This will gradually resolve.

Temperature

Many patients will have a low grade fever (99°-100°) for a few weeks after surgery. If you have a temperature greater than 101°, call your physician.

Sleeping Problems

It is not uncommon to have difficulty returning to a normal sleeping pattern, or to have nightmares. Sleeping difficulties are secondary to a number of factors. They will improve over time. It is best to establish a routine. Do not nap excessively during the day. Go to bed at a regular time.

Chest Wall Pain

It is normal to have discomfort in the chest wall from your incision. Following the use of the internal mammary artery for bypass, there may be some discomfort along the left border of the chest. In addition, patients frequently complain of pain between the shoulder blades or may be just generally sore. These are all expected after surgery. However, if you feel any discomfort which seems similar to angina, then you should contact your physician immediately.

The Blues

You have just come through a very difficult experience. It is normal to have some degree of depression. Don’t hesitate to express these feelings to your family or physicians. Notify your physician if you have any chest pain, shortness of breath, temperature greater than 101°, redness, swelling, or increased drainage from the incision sites.

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