Recovering After Your Implant Procedure
The weeks following a procedure to implant a neurostimulation system can be an exciting time. It can also be a period of adjustment. Your doctor will give you instructions about how to care for your incisions and what activities you should avoid. You will also learn how to maintain your system and how to use it to manage your pain. Gradually, you should get used to living with your system and be able to do more of the things that you want to do.
As with any surgical procedure, your body will need time to heal. Recovery usually takes about six to eight weeks, although it varies from person to person. Your doctor is your best source of information about your recovery time and process.
Activities to avoid
Your doctor will advise you when you can go back to doing your usual activities. During the first six to eight weeks, you will likely have some restrictions that are intended to allow your body to heal around the implanted system. You should always follow your doctor’s instructions during the recovery period.
Restrictions your doctor may give you:
- Avoid twisting, bending, stretching or lifting anything heavier than five pounds; these movements may cause the leads to move and possibly cause an unpleasant sensation.
- Take sponge baths until your doctor gives you permission to shower or bathe again.
- Do not have other medical tests or procedures done without checking with your doctor first.
- If you have a rechargeable system and you received surgical staples, wait until the staples are removed before recharging your system.
Help your body heal
It is important that you fully participate in your recovery. By following your doctor’s recommendations, you can avoid complications and give your body time to recover.
Things you can do:
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions about medications carefully.
- Ask your medical team if you do not understand something.
- Wait to remove bandages until you hear from your doctor.
Things to watch out for
Surgery always carries risk, and it is important to be mindful of how your body is feeling afterward. Your doctor can explain warning signs, including issues specific to your situation, and instruct you about what to do if you have symptoms. Be sure to read any guides that came with your system and pay close attention to sections labeled “warning” or “important.” Those sections contain important safety information.
Call your doctor if you notice signs of infection such as fever, chills or excessive drainage, redness or increased pain at the incision site.
Keep your appointments
You will probably have several appointments with your doctor in the days and weeks after surgery. It is important that you keep these appointments.
At these appointments, your doctor can:
- Check your recovery progress
- Be sure that your incisions are healing and your system is working properly
- Evaluate your system and make changes to settings (if needed)
A St. Jude Medical representative will also be at one of your appointments to show you how to use your programmer and charging unit (if you have a rechargeable system).
Involve family and friends
Discuss what to expect as you recover with those around you. Keep the lines of communication open and be clear about how and when you need help.
As your caregivers, family members or friends may want to:
- Attend your doctor appointments with you. They can take notes, organize any materials you receive, handle appointment scheduling and provide transportation.
- Make arrangements for your recovery at home, including providing healthy meals, assisting you with getting dressed and maintaining a stress-free environment
- Watch for signs of complications
- Keep you on schedule with medications and rehabilitation
- Help to keep your spirits up