Recovery after your heart transplant is similar to the recovery after any heart surgery. It takes about six to eight weeks for your incisions to heal.
At first, you may have some muscle or incision discomfort in your chest during activity. Itching, tightness, or numbness along your incision are also normal. Follow the guidelines below to ensure proper healing:
Keep your incisions clean and dry.
- If your incisions are healing you may take a shower (no longer than 10 minutes). Or you may take quick baths.
- Use gentle soap and water to cleanse the site.
- Do not rub your incisions with a washcloth until the scabs are gone and the skin is healed.
- Do not use any ointments, lotions or dressings on the incision.
Protect your incision.
- Do not drive a car for 6 weeks after your surgery.
- Do not lift anything over 10-20 pounds for 6 weeks after your surgery.
Eat a healthy diet.
Good nutrition is an important part of healing. You will need to eat a diet that is low in salt and fat, but also one that includes a variety of healthy foods to help you heal. If you are having trouble with your appetite or understanding your diet guidelines, please ask your transplant team to speak to a dietitian.
Know the signs of infection.
If you have any of these signs of infection, call your doctor.
- Increased drainage and/or oozing from the incision
- Increased opening of the incision
- Redness around the incision
- Warmth along the incision line
- Increased body temperature (greater than 101 degrees F or 38.4 degrees C)
Call your doctor:
- If you have any signs of incision infection.
- If your sternum (breastbone) feels like it moves, or it pops or cracks with movement.