Warm Weather Surgery Recovery: How to Beat the Heat While You’re on the Mend
Spring has sprung and temperatures are on the rise. When an injury or illness requires a late-spring or summer surgery, you may be wondering “How in the world do I do this?”. Combine rising temperatures with a decrease in your own mobility and energy levels—and the end result can be a bit daunting. But, with a little preparation and some helpful tools on your side, you can make it through a warm weather surgery recovery without breaking a serious sweat.
Below, we’re offering up our top tips for feeling refreshed during a hot surgery recovery. Read on for a complete guide to staying cool as a cucumber during summer’s most sweltering months!
1. Prepare your home before you head into surgery.
When you get home from surgery, all you’ll want to do is rest without worry or work—which is why it’s important to create a comfortable living space and designated recovery area before the day of your procedure. Work through the following to-dos in the weeks leading up to your summer surgery:
- Have your A/C unit checked and, if needed, serviced.
- Replace your air filters.
- Set your ceiling fans to run counterclockwise—this pushes the air downward to create a cool breeze.
- Clean out and stock your refrigerator, and ensure the items you’ll need during your surgery recovery are within easy reach.
- If you have one, ensure your ice machine is working properly and replace the filter if needed. If you don’t have an ice machine, purchase bags of ice or fill up ice trays with water and freeze in preparation for your return home from the hospital or surgery center.
- Freeze a few wet washcloths (shaped into a half-moon to easily lay across your forehead) that you can place on your head to cool you down if you begin to overheat during your surgery recovery.
- Prepare a designated recovery space where you’ll spend most of your time resting (i.e. on the couch in the family room or on a bed in a downstairs bedroom, etc.). Clear the space of any cords or trip hazards and stock the area with plenty of cooling items (personal fan, a cooler with ice and cold drinks, etc.).
2. Think through your sleeping arrangements and adjust if necessary.
If you’re someone who tends to run hot at night, make any necessary adjustments to your sleeping area to account for the heat you build while you sleep. While, prior to your procedure, getting up in the middle of the night to walk around and cool off, turn up the air conditioning, or head into the kitchen for a glass of ice water was easy—that’s not going to be the case as you recover from surgery, which is why it’s important you make sure your sleeping area is as cool and comfortable as possible, ultimately minimizing the need to get up or move around in the middle of the night. Be sure to:
- Change your sheets and duvet to lighter, summer-friendly fabrics (PRO TIP: We love this roundup of the best cooling sheets.)
- If needed, temporarily move your sleeping arrangements to the coolest room in the house.
- Keep things like an insulated water bottle with ice water, a small personal fan, and a cooler filled with cold beverages and cold washcloths at your bedside.
- Place a large bowl of ice in front of a fan that faces your bed.
- If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere where you can open your windows at night to let in a breeze, spritz your curtains with water—the air circulating through the window will evaporate the water and work to cool down your room.
3. Use strategic hydration and nutrition to cool you down.
It probably goes without saying that thoughtful hydration and nourishment are both a key part of any successful surgery recovery. The great news is, in addition to helping you recover faster, you can also use nourishment and hydration to help keep you cool. Below are a few ways you can begin to think about using proper post-surgery nutrition to regulate your body temperature:
- Avoid salty foods, as they can produce metabolic heat and cause water loss.
- Drink nourishing smoothies full of fresh fruit.
- Consume meals that don’t require you to turn on the oven. Think: raw fruits and vegetables with hummus—along with nourishing snacks like whole-grain crackers and cheeses, cold applesauce, yogurt and berries, plant protein drinks, etc.
- Freeze grapes or melon slices for a tasty treat that cools you down quickly and contains less sugar than popsicles.
- If you live in a dry-heat climate, research shows that drinking hot drinks, while counterintuitive, may work to produce sweat and cool you down faster than ice-cold beverages.
4. Invest in cooling items.
There is no shortage of products on the market designed to help cool our bodies down during the sweltering summer months. From high-tech fans and personal A/C units to cooling gels and moisturizers, the good ol’ world wide web is chock-full of innovative, ingenious items that make staying refreshed during summer surgery recovery easier than ever. A few things you might want to consider purchasing prior to your procedure include:
- Light-weight loungewear made of breathable, wicking fabrics
- Cooling sheets and bedding
- Neck- and head-cooling products and towels, like Chill-Its
- A standing fan for your recovery space
- A portable A/C unit, especially if your home doesn’t have air conditioning
- Mini hand-held fans that are easy to attach to an array of surfaces
- Vacuum-insulated water bottle and cooler
- A personal neck fan
- Cooling facial mists (PRO TIP: Keep these in the fridge for an incredibly refreshing effect. You can also keep your facial moisturizers, sunscreen, and eye creams in the refrigerator to add a cooling effect to your daily skincare routine.)
Want even more insightful recovery tips? Browse the rest of the Mend Well blog for empowering patient information, helpful nutrition advice, and pro pre-surgery tips.