If you’ve been told you need to undergo an operation to take care of an issue with your adrenal glands, you probably have plenty of questions racing around in your head. The best way to get answers to your questions is to ask them to your operating surgeon, as they’ll be able to give you answers tailored to your specific situation. However, we also want to help provide some general answers about adrenal gland surgery, so below, we’re taking a closer look at the time leading up to adrenal gland surgery, and what life might look like after your operation.
The Days Before Adrenal Gland Surgery
Again, this advice is general in nature, so you should be sure to ask your surgeon about specifics regarding your operation. With that said, here’s a look at what you can expect in the days leading up to your operation.
Before a surgeon will let you go under the knife for an adrenal gland operation, they are going to want to conduct some blood tests to catch any potential issues and ensure you are healthy enough for surgery. Blood work and a physical exam are usually performed one to two weeks before your scheduled operation. Once that is taken care of, a surgical assistant or the surgeon will explain the basics of the upcoming procedure, including what they need of you.
One area of focus during this conversation will be what medications you are currently taking. Certain medications may need to be stopped before surgery, but it may not be healthy to stop cold turkey, so you may be advised to talk to your general practitioner or the prescribing physician in order to learn how to best wean off the medication before your surgery. Let your surgeon know of all the medications you are taking so they can let you know what can be continued and what needs to be stopped.
24-48 hours before surgery, the surgical center will call and walk you through some final details about your appointment, including when you should arrive, what medications you can take, and when to stop eating or drinking prior to the surgery. They may also ask you to complete a gentle bowel prep, which will begin the day before surgery. If you are going to be staying overnight at the surgical center, pack an overnight bag.
After Adrenal Gland Surgery
After surgery and some time in the recovery ward, you’ll be briefed by the surgeon or an assistant on how the surgery went. Assuming all went well, they’ll ask you about your pain levels and talk to you about medications. You may need to be prescribed pain medications for discomfort after the operation, and you may also need steroids or blood pressure medications to help your body adjust if your adrenal glands were removed.
You’ll be told to take it easy and stick to your medication regimen for the first couple days, and oftentimes a follow-up appointment will be made within a week or two after surgery. During this consultation, your doctor will ask about any symptoms or pain you’re experiencing, and they’ll begin adjusting your medications. If recovery goes as planned, you can probably return to work or school around this same time, as the two main symptoms you’ll deal with are pain and fatigue, which should both be minimal after a week or so.
Light activities are also usually allowed during this time period, but full exercise or sporting activities aren’t yet on the table. It usually takes at least six weeks before you’ve healed enough to perform any heavy lifting or moderate-intensity exercise, but again, your doctor can provide you with specifics. Full recovery takes about 6-8 weeks, but you still may need medications to make up for certain deficiencies if your adrenal glands were removed. All in all, adrenal gland surgery has high success rates, and patients can live without their adrenal glands with only minor lifestyle adjustments.
For more information or to talk to Dr. Koeplin about an adrenal gland issue, contact his office today.