Advancement being made in heart surgery now allow for many more life saving procedures to be done with minimally invasive surgeries.  Where many surgeries done even 5-10 years ago would have required open heart surgery and a lengthy hospital stay and even lengthier recovery period; today many surgeries including minimally invasive mitral valve repair are being performed and saving lives with as little as an overnight hospital stay and a much faster recovery.  When having heart surgery here are some important things you can expect to happen:

  • Before surgery you will meet with your cardiologist as well as the surgeon.  The cardiologist may or may not be the doctor doing your heart surgery.  For minimally invasive procedures often your cardiologist will take you though each step of diagnosis, the procedure, and then through recovery.  Once your heart condition is discovered you should discuss with your doctor what options are available.  Depending on the condition you will most likely be given the options of medication, a minimally invasive repair procedure, to the extreme of needing an open heart surgery procedure.  Once the diagnosis and procedure have been explained you can begin doing your own research to understand what to expect.
  • Depending on the exact procedure you are having performed, you will learn whether you will be staying in the hospital or allowed to go home after the procedure.  You will begin your surgery and your stay by getting pre-registered at the hospital or surgery center.  If you are having the procedure performed on an out-patient basis you will be given specific instructions that pertain to a same day visit.  For more complex procedures and operations you will often be required to spend some time staying in the hospital.  Given the procedure the hospital or your doctor can tell you how long of a stay to plan on.  This information is useful in knowing what you should plan to pack for your stay.
  • With any surgery, aftercare is the most important.  Getting back up and going after surgery includes not only recovering from the surgery itself but also learning to make lifestyle adjustments if necessary.  Long before surgery takes place you should begin planning for this important stage of your recovery.  Begin by gathering family and friends around who can serve as a support group for you.  These family members will not only be great as visitors while you are in the hospital but can be great supporters in your recovery.  They can help to keep you motivated, help take care of tasks you can’t do for awhile, and even help you to be consistent and accountable in new behaviors.   The support of family and friend can make a dramatic difference in your outcome.

When having surgery there are many unknowns.  How will I feel after?  Will this change what I can or can’t do?  What should I expect to happen?  Take the time to prepare by talking to your doctor, planning with your family, and understanding for yourself what to expect.  The more prepare you are the more confident you’ll feel in both the surgery as well as what to expect afterwards.