After any surgery, the area of your body that was operated on will have some swelling around the incision. It’s helpful to manage the swelling because you will have less discomfort, pressure, numbness, and tingling.
Ice is the key to decreasing swelling. You can use any type of icing device you would like – a wrap that you can put in and take out of the freezer, moldable ice packs, or polar cubes (cooler-like devices that pump cold water from the cooler through tubing to a wrap that you put on your body).
Some people like zip-lock bags filled with ice. These tend to sweat so you have to be careful not to get your incision wet. Others like frozen peas or other vegetables. These warm really quickly against your body and might not be as effective as other types of icing devices.
Icing devices can be purchased from most drugstores, or retailers such as Walmart, Target, or Amazon.
You should wrap any icing device with a thin towel before applying it to your skin. Never put ice straight on your skin. It’s best to put ice to the sides of your incision, not directly on the incision. Ice on an incision can cause “thermal burn” just like heat can. Avoid getting your incision wet.
Leave ice around your incision for 15-20 minutes every hour, then remove it. You’ll find ice especially helpful the first 1-2 weeks after surgery. If you find ice helpful for longer than that, feel free to use it. Don’t worry about waking up all night long to apply ice every hour. It’s important you get rest and a good night’s sleep.
Don’t put heat (like a heating pad) on a swollen area. The heat will increase blood flow to the area and cause even more swelling.
If the swollen area is in your legs or arms, it is helpful to elevate the arm/leg on pillows. With a swollen leg, take 2-3 pillows and pile them lengthwise on top of each other. Position your leg on the stack of pillows so it is supported from just above the knee to the ankle. You should have enough pillows so your toes are above your heart. Elevate 3-4 times a day for 30-45 minutes. This is also a good time to ice.
Managing swelling will help with pain and make it easier for you to move around. Happy icing!!!