A ventriculoperitoneal shunt surgery is generally performed for treating hydrocephalus. It helps in draining the excess cerebrospinal fluid from the brain to the abdomen.
Thus, relieving the pressure inside your brain and protecting you from brain damage. After undergoing the surgery, the recovery period is the most crucial. During this period, you will have to take proper care of yourself as well as your VP shunt. Here, we have discussed what you can expect at home after the surgery and compiled 7 tips to help you with recovery after VP shunt surgery.
1. Take Medicines As Directed To Manage Your Pain
You may experience some discomfort or pain after your surgery. Once you have been discharged, you will have to continue taking your medications at home. Some patients do experience pain for around 6 months after the surgery. Thus, you should take your medicines as directed by your doctor for pain relief. If your medicines can no longer relieve your pain, you should contact your doctor immediately. Also, you should not take any medications in excess. This can compromise the pace of your recovery after the VP shunt.
2. Keep Your Incisions Dry And Clean
You should check your incisions for signs of swelling, infection, and drainage on a daily basis. It is recommended that patients keep the incisions dry and clean for at least 5 days after the surgery and should avoid taking showers during this time. Additionally, you should not use an ointment, creams, and a hair dryer on your incisions unless they have healed completely.
Get in touch with a doctor at once if:
- Your skin around the incisions is red
- There is drainage from your incision that seems like pus(milky and thick)
- Your skin around the incisions is becoming redder than before
3. Follow The Necessary Precautions For Your VP Shunt
To ensure that you have a safe recovery after VP shunt surgery, you should be cautious with your VP shunt. Some of the steps you can take to take care of your VP shunt are as follows:
- You should stay a few inches away from all magnetic products.
- You should not use magnetic therapy pillows and pads. This is because magnets may change the settings of your VP shunt. However, this can depend on the model of your VP shunt. Thus, you should ask your doctor if you need to be careful about coming too close to magnets.
- If you have to get an MRI test done, inform the technologist conducting the MRI about your VP shunt before the test. You should also tell them the model and setting of your shunt. This is because the MRI can influence the pressure settings of some shunts.
4. Have Proper Rest And Exercise
Both rest and being physically active are crucial for your fast and healthy recovery. But, when you have left the hospital, you should abstain from certain activities for around 4-6 weeks as these can compromise your recovery. During this period, you should avoid:
- Heavy lifting(>4.5kg)
- Fatiguing activities such as tennis
- Contact sports like football
However, you can participate in aerobic exercises such as stair climbing and walking. These will help in regain strength and feeling energetic again. You should increase the intensity of these exercises at your own pace. As each individual is different, the time required for complete recovery after VP shunt surgery will also vary. In general, you can walk for about 20-30 minutes a day, at least about 2-3 times. Additionally, giving proper rest to your body is equally important. You should stick to a sleep schedule and ensure that you are getting enough rest for a faster recovery.
You can also get in touch with a physical therapist who can teach you the necessary exercises for getting back to your active self. You can ask your primary doctor if physical therapy would benefit your recovery after VP shunt surgery.
5. Maintain A Healthy Diet
After the VP shunt surgery, you can resume your normal diet. It is generally advisable to eat a healthy and balanced diet. You should also avoid alcohol, especially when you are taking pain medications. This is because some medications can make you feel drowsy all the time and drinking alcohol can worsen this.
6. Regularly Attend Follow-Up Sessions With Your Doctor
After you have undergone surgery, your neurosurgeon will tell you about the frequency of follow-up sessions. You should be regular with your follow-up appointments as these give an opportunity for your neurosurgeon to evaluate if the shunt is functioning well or not.
7. Pay Attention To Your Mental Health
Most people pay attention to only their physical recovery after VP shunt surgery. However, taking care of your mental health is as important and should not be ignored. After the surgery, it is normal to feel worried, anxious, and even sad. It is important to realize that you don’t have to cope with these feelings alone. You can get in touch with your loved ones for reassurance and emotional support. There are many resources available and you should not hesitate to reach out to a psychologist if needed.
If during your recovery period after VP shunt surgery, you notice certain warning signs then you should get in touch with your doctor at once. These include
- Constant headache
- Swelling and redness in the area around the incision
- Pain in the region around the shunt
- Loss of balance
These signs could indicate that your VP shunt is not working properly or you have a VP shunt infection. This could again increase the pressure in your brain. Thus, you need immediate medical help.
Avail VP Shunt Treatment Across the World
Undergoing surgery can be a life-changing experience for many patients. When it comes to having a proper recovery after VP shunt surgery, you should follow all the necessary steps as advised by your neurosurgeon. In case of any signs of VP shunt infection such as fever or redness around the incision, you should get in touch with your doctor immediately.