Returning to work after surgery
The Royal College of Surgeons (England) have produced very helpful guidance on returning to work after surgery. For specific guidance on recovering from operations see list below.
How quickly you return to work depends on a number of things:
• How you heal
• How you respond to surgery
• The type of job you do
Your Occupational Health Service will advise you on this. Alternatively your GP can give you advice. Ultimately, it’s your decision when you want to go back, and there’s no insurance risk to your employer if you choose to do so.
You do not need your GP’s permission to go back to work - this is ultimately your decision.
Fact: Work can be part of your recovery
Everyone needs time off to recover after an operation - but too much of it can stand in the way of you getting back to normal. In fact, by staying off for too long, people can become isolated and depressed. Getting back to your normal work routine sooner rather than later can actually help you to recover more quickly.
Getting back to work : People whose work involves a lot of heavy lifting, or standing up or walking for long periods of time, will not be able to return to work as quickly as those who have office jobs which are less demanding physically.
Things that will help you to recover more quickly
Eat Healthily : Eating a healthy diet will help to ensure that your body has all the nutrients it needs to heal.
Stop Smoking : By not smoking - even if it’s just for the time that you’re recovering - you immediately start to improve your circulation and your breathing - not to mention a whole list of other benefits to the heart and lungs.
Family and Friends can give you two important things:
• Practical help with the tasks you might be temporarily unable to do while you recover - such as driving, the weekly shop, or lifting heavier items.
• Keeping Your Spirits Up - the novelty soon wears off being home alone all day, and it’s easy to feel isolated by this. Having company can help you to worry less. It’s important not to let anxiety set in, as it can become a problem in itself which stands in the way of you getting back to your normal routine.
Keep A Routine : Get up at your normal time in the morning, get dressed, move about the house. If you get tired, you can rest later.
Build Up Gradually : Have a go at doing some of the things you’d normally do, but build up gradually. Some suggestions are included in the Recovery Tracker –see website. Obviously, everyone recovers at a different speed, so not all of the suggestions will be suitable for everybody.
When you’re building up your activities, you may feel more tired than normal. If so, stop, and rest until your strength returns. If you feel pain, stop immediately and consult your GP or call NHS Direct.
Don’t sleep in - you can always rest later. Staying in bed can cause depression.
If you live alone, and you do not have family or friends close by, organise support in advance - have family or friends come to stay with you for the first few days after surgery if possible.
This website provides specific advice on recovering from the following operations and likely timescale for you to return to work :-
Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG)
Carpal tunnel surgery
Total knee replacement
Gall bladder removal
Inguinal hernia repair
Wisdom teeth extraction
Total hip replacement
Returning to work after gynaecological operations - For more on preparing for and recovering from a range of gynae. operations, see patient information leaflets from the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology