Congenital heart surgery can be a very daunting operation for any child or parent to experience, and the road to recovery has different phases that will vary for each patient. In this post, we hope to shed some light on what to expect after your child goes through congenital heart surgery.
Immediately After Surgery
Once the procedure has been completed, your child will go straight to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and be observed by a specialized team and advanced monitoring equipment. The most critical phase after surgery is monitoring your child after the cardiac intervention, as there could be a lot of risks with other organs depending on the severity of their operation.
The amount of time a patient recovers in the hospital is entirely situational and depends on the particular lesion and procedure. It can go from a few days or less than a week to up to several weeks or months.
Going Home After Surgery
When your child leaves the hospital after their surgery, depending on their personal experience with the operation, they will probably go back for a follow-up appointment after they go home. Doctors typically like to see patients one to two weeks after congenital heart surgery, but they may need to be checked sooner if particular concerns exist. At these appointments, doctors will make sure the child is doing well and that the surgical incision is clean without signs of an infection. No matter how complex the surgery is, an incision to the chest needs to be checked until it is completely healed.
The limitations a patient could experience after surgery are variable, but the common restrictions are focused around physical activity. Most patients will not be able to perform physical activities until their skin, chest bones and heart are fully healed. While it usually takes 1-2 weeks for the skin and six weeks for bones, the heart itself may need longer time to recover fully.
Months and Years After Congenital Heart Surgery
Once your child is well on their way to fully recovering from congenital heart surgery, each child will expect different circumstances. Sometimes not all defects can be fixed in one session and additional procedures will be needed down the road. Whether they need one more surgery or a series of them, the patient needs to fully recover from congenital heart surgery before undergoing another one.
No matter if your child needs another surgery or not, patience is the best thing for their recovery. If your child will need congenital heart surgery, the best piece of advice is this: follow your doctor’s instructions that are specifically tailored to your child’s situation, and in most cases your child should expect to live a long, active life.