surgical FAQs

Please find below our frequently asked questions about pre- and post- operative care. If you require further information please contact the Practice, or in the case of an emergency please contact 000.

For Dr Robyn Leake & Dr Jennifer Pontré
(08) 9389 5065

For Dr Krish Karthigasu
(08) 9389 8900

If you are taking fish oil, aspirin, garlic tablets and/or St John's wort supplements, please cease these 10 days prior to your surgery.

If you are on any other blood thinning medications, please discuss these with your Specialist and Anaesthetist to determine how many days prior to your surgery they should be stopped.

Fasting, bed rest and medications for pain can all contribute to slowing of bowel function in the first few days after surgery. Constipation can lead to significant post op pain, so it is important to prevent and manage. Staying hydrated, mobilising and eating a healthy diet as soon as possible post-operatively will assist in resolving this problem.

It is advisable, especially if you are prone to constipation, to take a gentle laxative such as Movicol (softens and bulks stool to naturally trigger a bowel movement) or Coloxyl (stool softener) before constipation becomes a problem. In addition, if you feel that your rectum is full but you are unable to evacuate it, suppositories such as glycerol are entirely safe to use. Sometimes a Microlax enema or a fleet enema may be required, if constipation is severe. All of these medications can be purchased without a prescription from any pharmacy.

Following your surgery, most wound will be closed with dissolvable sutures and either a dressing or dissolvable glue. These stitches will dissolve over a few weeks. As the wound swelling reduces, it is normal for some suture material to be seen or felt. If this is bothersome for you, please see your GP to have these trimmed. If the sutures are catching on your clothing or underwear, cover them with a Band Aid temporarily or see your GP for trimming.

Leave abdominal dressings intact for 5 days unless they become soiled or wet. Once removed, you can cover your wounds with a band aid. Be sure to keep them clean and dry, and avoid using creams or antiseptics such as Betadine and Dettol.

Once your wounds are healed you can massage them with a moisturiser containing Vitamin E to reduce scarring.

Occasionally a port site wound will be a little sore, gape slightly, become moist or appear bruised following laparoscopic surgery. These issues will usually resolve on their own so long as the wound is kept clean and dry.

If your wounds become infected, they may become painful, hot, red or swollen, or you may notice a discharge. Please seek medical advice if this occurs.

You should rest when you get home from any procedure. For a ‘day procedure’ you will be able to go home once you have recovered from the anaesthetic, have had something to eat and drink, and have been able to pass urine.

It is important that you do not drink, drive or sign legal documents for 24 hours following an anaesthetic. It is therefore essential that you arrange for someone to pick you up from the hospital and be with you overnight following your surgery.

Climbing stairs will not hinder your recovery. You are able to do this immediately after surgery.

It is ok to resume some light movement and exercise once you are feeling comfortable following surgery. However exercise should be balanced with adequate rest.

Following most minor procedures, it will be suitable to return to normal exercise within a few days. Following a LLETZ procedure or cone biopsy, avoid strenuous activity for 2 weeks.

Following most laparoscopic procedures, avoid strenuous exercise and house work for up to 4 weeks. If you have had a hysterectomy, you should avoid this for a full 6 weeks post op.

Check your procedure specific information sheet for more details.

If any form of exercise causes you significant discomfort, you must stop it immediately.

Following most gynaecological surgeries, vaginal bleeding is very normal, and can continue for up to 4-6 weeks post procedure. In order to avoid infection, use sanitary pads rather than tampons, and shower rather than taking baths. Following insertion of an IUD cramping and bleeding are very normal however should settle over time.

Following a hysterectomy, after 3-4 weeks the vaginal stitches will start to dissolve and there may be a change in the type of discharge and a small amount of blood may be released from under the suture line. This is not cause for alarm. Please telephone if the loss is heavy or persists for more than a few days.

Following a procedure please refrain from sexual intercourse until any bleeding or discharge has stopped and you are feeling comfortable.

Avoid intercourse and tampon usage for up to 2-4 weeks following vulval surgery (especially if you have had stitches), 5 days after IUD insertion, 1 week after hysteroscopy, 4 weeks after LLETZ or cone biopsy of cervix, and 6-8 weeks after hysterectomy.

If you are on vaginal estrogen preparations such as Ovestin or Vagifem, it is safe to restart these 1 week after minor surgery, and 6 weeks after major surgery. If insertion is uncomfortable, wait another week or two.

After minor vaginal procedures, such as LLETZ, it is recommended that tampon use be avoided for 2-4 weeks post-op.

After major vaginal procedures, such as anterior and/or posterior repair, it is recommended that tampon use be avoided for up to 8 weeks post-op.

After laparoscopic or open surgical procedures you are able to resume tampon use as soon as you feel comfortable.

Driving should be avoided for 24 hours after an anaesthetic. Once the tenderness associated with the wounds has disappeared, it is usually safe to drive.

If you have had a laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery, you should not drive for 1-2 weeks. If you have had a laparotomy (open) procedure, you should not drive for 4 weeks.

Please check with your motor vehicle insurance provider prior to driving. Keep in mind that you must have full use of your reflexes. If pain will inhibit them, don’t drive. You should feel capable of performing an emergency stop without hesitation due to pain or discomfort.

If after your discharge from hospital you experience grave concerns, at any time, please seek medical advice and/or review.

These include:

  1. Increasing pain in the abdomen, pelvis or back, not relieved by taking analgesia, or is severe when you move, breathe or cough
  2. Persistent or heavy vaginal bleeding or discharge, or passage of large clots
  3. Offensive smelling vaginal discharge
  4. An elevated temperature or fever
  5. Shortness of breath or chest pain
  6. Swelling of your abdomen
  7. Nausea or vomiting that is worsening
  8. Pain, burning or stinging, or difficulty when passing urine
  9. Persistent or worsening redness, pain, discharge, increasing swelling or an enlarging bruise around your wound

If you would like to speak to someone at our Practice regarding non-urgent issues please contact us during our opening hours.

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please follow these instructions.

If you would like to download a PDF version of these frequently asked questions, click the below link.