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What is the recovery like with bypass surgery? What is heart rehab like? How do you deal with the scarring?

By Anonymous November 3, 2009 - 11:23pm
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I am scheduled for triple bypass surgery on Monday, November 9th. I want to know how other women went through this surgery. What their recovery was like, what worked for them and what didn't. What kind of therapy was required to heal. What was it like with their leg after their surgery. How did they cope with the scar down their chest? Did they experience depression?

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Hello Anon - Thanks for writing to us and seeking information to assist you with your upcoming surgery. Diane has provided some excellent resources on the procedure and recovery.

Multiple studies have shown that being part of a support group helps in the recovery process after cardiac surgery. I'd like to suggest some additional resources that can help you post-surgery. Two of the best ones are:

The National Coalition for Women and Heart Disease

Go Red For Women - American Heart Association

There may also be a support group associated with the hospital where you are having your surgery, as well as through your local chapter of the American Heart Association.

I'm so glad you contacted us, and wish you the best next week. Like Diane, I'm looking forward to hearing back from you.

Take good care,

November 4, 2009 - 6:53pm


Welcome to EmpowHer! And thank you so much for your question.

I hope that some women who have had bypass surgery will tell us what their surgeries and their recoveries were like. There is nothing better than having others share their personal experiences when we are facing something unfamiliar.

In the meantime, I wanted to give you just a few links where others are writing about this:

from the Mayo Clinic (be sure to also click on the blue link at left that says "What you can expect:"


Here is some of what the Mayo Clinic says about recovery:

"Coronary bypass surgery is a major operation. Expect to spend a day or two in the intensive care unit after coronary bypass surgery. Here, your heart, blood pressure, breathing and other vital signs will be continuously monitored. Your breathing tube will remain in your throat for a few hours after surgery, so you won't be able to speak. You can communicate with hand gestures and notes. The breathing tube will be removed as soon as you are awake and able to breathe on your own.

"Barring any complications, you'll likely be discharged from the hospital within a week, although even after you've been released, you may find it difficult to perform everyday tasks, or even walk a short distance. If, after returning home, you experience any of the following signs or symptoms, call your doctor. They could be warning signs that your chest wound is infected:

■ A fever higher than 100.4 F (38 C)
■ Rapid heart rate
■ New or worsened pain around your chest wound
■ Reddening, bleeding, or other discharge from your chest wound

Expect a recovery period of about six to 12 weeks. In most cases, you can return to work, begin exercising, and resume sexual activity after six weeks, but make sure you have your doctor's OK before doing so.

This two pages are from bypasssurgery.com:


And this is from caring.com:


The Cleveland Clinic had one of the most thorough reference pages I found, and it discusses recovery as well:


Part of your recovery depends on the surgical procedure used. The University of Chicago Medical Center page has a chart that compares the approaches:


And I think this last one may be the best link of all. This is a guide for patients from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons that includes information on the care of both your chest and leg wounds, what's normal in the way of after-effects, what to expect from medications, specific activity guidelines for things like climbing stairs, taking showers, walking, driving and so on. It also discusses the four stages of rehab and your diet.

Here is the page: http://www.sts.org/sections/patientinformation/adultcardiacsurgery/heartsurgery/

You want to click on the SMALL red type that says "What to Expect After Heart Surgery." It will open a PDF file that you can print out -- it's six pages long.

I am also giving you a direct link to that PDF. I did it two ways to be sure you can open it:


Best wishes for your surgery next week. Please write back and update us when you're home!!!

November 4, 2009 - 10:13am
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