Is it okay to take a shower after my surgery?

Yes, we encourage patients to shower daily with antibacterial soap. Keeping incisions clean is very important.

When can I take a bath after surgery?

It is recommended to shower daily for 1 week and baths may be resumed if patients wish after a week.

Should I keep a bandage on my incision(s)?

After the first two days of surgery it is acceptable to leave incisions open to air. Be sure to shower daily and cleanse wounds with antibacterial soap (ex. Dial). Dry the wounds thoroughly following shower. If your incisions drain a clear fluid place a bandage over them to absorb the fluid from the wound and/or skin so it will remain dry.

Is it ok for me to resume my daily exercise such as walking?

Patients are encouraged to begin exercise daily as soon as they are discharged. Walking is a preferred exercise following surgery. It is a good idea to start with several short distances per day and work up to 1-2 miles per day as tolerated. Patients may climb stairs as well. After heart surgery, you should not lift anything heavier than 10 pounds for one month.

When can I begin driving again after my surgery?

It is okay to begin driving about 2 weeks following any surgery. Patients should not drive after taking pain medications.

Is it okay for me to resume sexual activities?

Following heart surgery most patients resume sexual activity after 2-4 weeks, but it is advised to resume when patients feel comfortable.

How long should I stay home from work after surgery?

Usually patients may return to work after 4-8 weeks depending on their recovery and the level of physical activity the job requires. Patients should discuss this with their surgeon.

How much can I lift after surgery?

Immediately following heart surgery and also following pacemaker/defibrillator placement patient should not lift weights greater than 10 pounds. A few weeks after surgery these activities may be resumed.

If I have an antiarrhythmic device such as a pacemaker or defibrillator is it okay for me to lift my arms above my head/heart?

For the first week following pacemaker or defibrillator surgeries, patients should resume usual daily activities but keep arms below the level of their heart.

Will my pacemaker/defibrillator trigger alarms at the airport when I go through metal detectors?


Can I get diagnostic tests such as Xrays, CT Scans, and MRI while I have a pacemaker or defibrillator?

Xrays and CT Scans will not affect pacemakers and defibrillators; however patients may not have an MRI with these devices in place.

Can I get a CAT scan or MRI if I have had an abdominal aneurysm stent graft placed?

Yes, the material used in the stent grafts is safe for both CT scan and MRI machines.

Is it normal for my leg to swell after heart surgery?

After heart surgery, you should expect some swelling in the leg from which the vein was removed. Swelling will be greatest at the end of the day. Patients should try to elevate the leg as much as possible. Over time the swelling will improve as the blood finds other veins to return from the leg to the heart.

Do I need an antibiotic before a dental procedure if I have had a heart valve replacement?

Yes, please arrange with your dentist to complete a course of antibiotics before you undergo any dental procedure.

Will I need to continue to have follow-up visits with my cardiologist after my heart surgery or can I see my surgeon only?

Please continue to see your cardiologist for an overall cardiovascular checkup and for management of cardiac and hypertension medications. Patients should see their cardiologist about 4 weeks after surgery.

How long after my surgery should I see my regular medical doctor?

It is a good idea to arrange an appointment with your regular doctor about 2-4 weeks after surgery.

What type of foods should I consume in my daily diet after my heart surgery?

Patients should adhere to a low fat and low cholesterol diet. This will prevent formation of new plaques or blockages in the body. If diabetic, please follow the 1800 calorie ADA diet.

Are over-the-counter laxatives okay to use after surgery if patients haven’t had a bowel movement?

Irregular bowels are common following surgery and it is acceptable to use nonprescription laxatives if necessary. Walking and decreasing the amount of pain medicine you take will help your bowels restore regularity.

Is it okay to resume smoking following my surgery?

No. Smoking delays wound healing and is very bad for the heart and blood vessels. Since patients have a break from smoking while in the hospital it is a great idea to extend this to a permanent break from smoking. Talk to your primary care doctor about smoking cessation tools.

After my heart surgery if I’m feeling down or depressed can this be related to my surgery?

The difficult experience patients go through can give them a mild depression. It is a good idea for patients to find someone to talk their feelings over with and expect their mood to shift or vary somewhat in the period following