Pediatric Surgery Recovery: What To Expect Post-Op

Every year, 450,000 children under the age of 18 get surgery in the United States. Kids can easily feel scared and overwhelmed by the surgical recovery process. This period of time might be one of the first moments of their life experiencing high levels of pain, discomfort, or weakness. 

To make this process a little more manageable for both parents and children alike, this article explores the typical healing journey and the best ways to make recovery as relaxing as possible.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Surgery?

Directly after surgery, kids will be placed in a recovery room to wait for the anesthesia to wear off. It takes around 45 minutes on average for children to recover from the general anesthesia from their surgery. Depending on the type of surgery and the success of the procedure, kids will either be discharged a few hours later or spend one night or more in the hospital for extra monitoring during recovery. 

The estimated recovery time for surgery completely depends on your child’s unique situation.  The invasiveness of the surgery, the unique medical background of your child, complications from the surgery, and the part of the body that the surgery was performed on can all play a role in the recovery time.

Recovery Symptoms To Look Out For

Even if your child’s surgery is seamlessly executed without any complications, the majority of patients in surgical recovery will experience some inevitable pain and irritation of the body. Some of the most common post-operative recovery symptoms that aren’t usually much of a cause for concern include: 

  • Pain or swelling in the surgical site
  • Mild constipation or gas buildup 
  • Nausea from pain medications or anesthesia 
  • Trouble falling asleep 

While the above symptoms are common, if you notice them worsening instead of getting better, it is important to speak with a medical professional. Furthermore, it is time to call the doctor when any of these more severe symptoms arise: 

  • High fever and flu symptoms 
  • Difficulty breathing
  • The inability to urinate
  • A surgical wound that looks infected, with excess drainage, odor, swelling, or redness
  • More severe or worsening pain

5 Ways To Console Children Through Recovery

Here are 5 tips to keep your child calm and relaxed through the surgical healing process: 

#1: Have Comforting Items Available

When your child comes home from the hospital after surgery, make sure to have comfortable items on hand. After spending time in the stressful and unfamiliar setting of the hospital and operating room, familiar items of comfort will help your child feel more relaxed and grounded. This might include their favorite blanket, stuffed animal, toy, pacifier, or pillow. 

#2: Give Children Hugs 

Sometimes all your child needs to feel better is the physical affection of a cuddle or hug. Hugging releases oxytocin in the brain, which plays a huge role in reducing stress and anxiety. Not only this, but oxytocin is even associated with stronger immune systems and wound healing as well. 

#3: Be Mindful Of Their Pain Levels

Some kids might have some trouble directly articulating if they are experiencing pain from their surgery. As a parent, it is important to encourage your child to express how they are feeling to ensure that they are receiving the proper dosage of pain medications. 

Depending on the age of your child, some might be too young to express this need, which is why paying attention to their body language is equally important. Signs of your child in pain include irritability, restlessness, crying and wincing, and frowning. 

#4: Have Entertainment Ready To Go

To distract your child from their pain and discomfort, it is helpful to have a variety of entertainment ready to go. Books, movies, television shows, songs, video games, and other types of multimedia content are all great ways to keep children focused on something more positive and fun, without having to exert too much physical effort.  

#5: Work With A Child Life Specialist

If you find yourself struggling to help your child cope with their recovery symptoms effectively, working with a child life specialist is a great way to get some ideas and professional support. Child life specialists are trained professionals in helping kids and their families navigate illness, hospitals, and the medical experience.

Austin Pediatric Surgery is In Your Corner

The recovery process can be a long and bumpy road, but with ample support and professional assistance from Austin Pediatric Surgery, your child will get back on their feet in no time

To receive the best post-op care for your child in Austin, look no further than our compassionate team today. Contact us today to learn more.