Bartholin Cyst Surgery: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

After surgery, you may have pain and discomfort in your vulva for several days. It may be uncomfortable to sit for long periods of time. You may also have pain if your urine comes into contact with your wound.

Your doctor may have put a small rubber tube, called a catheter, in the cut (incision). The catheter keeps the area open so fluid can drain out of it. The catheter may fall out on its own during the first 2 weeks. If not, your doctor will remove it after several weeks.

You can expect to feel better and stronger each day, although you may get tired quickly and need pain medicine for a week or two. You may need about 2 to 4 weeks to fully recover.

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. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • Try to walk each day. Start out by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as biking, jogging, weight lifting, and aerobic exercise, for 4 to 6 weeks.
  • You may have some blood or fluid draining from the cyst. Wear sanitary pads if needed. Do not douche.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
  • You will probably need to take 2 to 5 days off work. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.
  • Do not have sex until your doctor tells you it is okay.

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).
  • You may notice that your bowels are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. Take a fibre supplement such as Benefibre or Metamucil every day. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, take 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.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • 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.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor tells you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.

Incision care

  • Follow your doctor's instructions about removing any gauze from inside your wound.
  • Wash the area daily with warm, soapy water, and pat it dry.
  • Keep the area clean and dry. You may cover it with a gauze bandage if it weeps or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day.
  • Sit in 8 to 10 centimetres of warm water (sitz bath) for 15 to 20 minutes 3 times a day. Then pat the area dry. The warm water helps the area heal and eases discomfort.
  • If you cannot take a bath, put a warm, clean face cloth on your vulva to help with healing and pain.
  • If you have had a catheter placed in the cyst to help it drain, follow your doctor's instructions for activities until the tube comes out.

Other instructions

  • Wear cotton underwear. Avoid underwear made from nylon, polyester, or silk.
  • Do not wear tight clothing until your wound has healed.
  • If sitting is painful, you may want to try sitting on a doughnut-shaped pillow.

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 or nurse call line 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 severe trouble breathing.
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

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

  • You are bleeding so much from your wound that you soak one or more pads in 2 to 4 hours.
  • You have foul-smelling discharge from your wound for several days.
  • You are sick to your stomach and cannot keep fluids down.
  • 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 pain that does not get better after you take your pain medicine.
  • You have loose stitches or an open incision.
  • You have trouble passing urine or stool, especially if you have pain or swelling in your lower belly.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not have a bowel movement after taking a laxative.

Where can you learn more?

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

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