Tubal Ligation: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

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You may have pain in your belly for a few days after surgery. If you had a laparoscopy, you may also have a swollen belly or a change in your bowels for a few days. After a laparoscopy, you may also have some shoulder or back pain. This pain is caused by the gas your doctor used to help see your organs better. To help with pain, your doctor will prescribe medicines.

After either surgery, it's important not to lift anything heavy for 1 week. How long it takes you to fully recover depends on the kind of surgery you had. After a laparoscopy, it usually takes about 1 week. After a mini-laparotomy, it usually takes 1 to 3 weeks. If you had a mini-laparotomy after having a baby, your recovery may take longer.

You will be protected from pregnancy right away. But it's best to wait to have sex until it feels comfortable. Ask your doctor when it's okay to have sex.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired.
  • Be active. Walking is a good choice.
  • Allow your body to heal. Don't move quickly or lift anything heavy until you are feeling better.
  • You may shower. Pat the incision dry. Don't swim or take a bath for the first 2 weeks, or until your doctor tells you it is okay.
  • For laparoscopic surgery, you will probably need to take 2 to 7 days off work. For mini-laparotomy, you will probably need to take 1 to 2 weeks off work. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.
  • Ask your doctor when it is okay for you to have sex.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).
  • If your bowel movements are not regular right after surgery, try to avoid constipation and straining. Drink plenty of water. Your doctor may suggest fibre, a stool softener, or a mild laxative.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.

Incision care

  • If you have strips of tape on the cut (incision) the doctor made, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off.
  • Wash the area daily with warm, soapy water, and pat it dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. They can slow healing.
  • Keep the area clean and dry. You may cover the area with a gauze bandage if it oozes fluid or rubs against clothing.
  • Change the bandage every day.

Other instructions

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing. For a few weeks, avoid anything that puts pressure on your belly.
  • You may want to use a heating pad on your belly to help with pain.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.
  • You have severe belly pain.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • After the first day, you are bleeding so much from your wound that you soak one or more bandages over 2 to 4 hours.
  • You are sick to your stomach and can't keep fluids down.
  • You have pain that does not get better when you take your pain medicine.
  • You have loose stitches or an open incision.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.
  • You have signs of a blood clot, such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
  • You have trouble passing urine or stool, especially if you have pain or swelling in your lower belly.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not have a bowel movement after you take a laxative.
  • You miss a menstrual period.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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