Abdominal surgery

What does (general) rehabilitation look like for patients who have undergone major abdominal surgery (stomach / bowel surgery)?

Every person is different, every body responds and recovers differently. Therefore the rehabilitation program differs from patient to patient. There are rules about what you can and can’t do. The most important thing is to find a good balance regarding to your rehabilitation. We build up the program in a calm and controlled manner. You must listen to your body and discuss with us how you feel. We will constantly adapt the program to your physical capacity. It must feel good for you.

The boundary between doing nothing and moving

Your physical activities must be gradually expanded. That is precisely why it is important that you are properly guided. We constantly monitor your health status and provide you with information about what you can and can’t feel. You will be trained to walk upright, because this reduces the chance of back pain. During all exercises, it is important that you breathe well by using abdominal breathing. We practice the right breathing with you. With our professional and responsible way we help you back on your feet again. For example, we help you climbing stairs again, which was maybe tiring and sometimes painful at first.

Sitting and standing up

We will let you do special exercises to make sitting and standing up possible again as quickly as possible. There are some advisements that can help you to make things easier. When you want to sit down, it is important that you choose a chair with a high seat. You can get up more easily from this chair because your stomach muscles are relieved. If you choose a low chair or bench where you can not sit upright properly, you will experience pain when standing up, by tightening the abdominal muscles.

Household chores

The first two weeks after the operation we will carry out the household tasks in your apartment. We will perform heavier household duties such as vacuum cleaning, window cleaning, etc. during your entire stay.

Some points of interest: try to avoid standing still for a long time, as well as lifting heavy things such as a bag of groceries and children. Do not lift anything that is heavier than three to four kilos. When you want to hold your child or grandchild, let him or her climb on your lap and then lift him or her up.

Rest and sleep

When you come to us, you must bear in mind that you may feel very tired, even though you felt comfortable in the hospital. This is normal. You must realize that you have probably done fewer activities in the hospital. Do not worry, your stamina will gradually return and improve.

It is recommended to plan a daily rest moment, for example in the form of an afternoon nap. It is important that you get sufficient rest.
Sleeping is not easy at first because your daily living habits are disturbed and maybe you can’t find a comfortable posture for the time being. It is not inconceivable that you have pain when you are rehabilitating. A painkiller, such as Paracetamol, a maximum of 4 times daily 2 tablets of 500 mg, usually helps.


You can drive when you have the strength and alertness again. The responsiveness is influenced by painkillers, so your concentration capacity (at the beginning) is not optimal. Most people do not drive a car for the first two weeks after the operation, sometimes even longer. If you find a seat belt uncomfortable on your stomach, you can put a towel between your stomach and the seat belt.


A sexual relationship can be resumed a few weeks after surgery, there are no fixed rules for this. Many people, however, wait a few months because of physical pain complaints.

Hygiene and wound care

It is safe to wet your abdominal wound, unless you have been advised otherwise. Showering is nice, but make sure that the water is not too hot. You may feel a little insecure at first. A shower chair is present and can help you to adopt an easier posture.

Wound healing

The wound healing consists of different stages. In the beginning, the wound can tingle, itch and / or give a strange feeling. When the bandage is removed, the wound is not tight, but it seems to be a little puckered. This improves later in the wound healing process.

When the wound becomes red or pain complaints increase, it is important that you contact us via telephone number 0034 – 966 495 448 or with the nurse if you have one. When the wound is dry, there is no need for a plaster. As long as the wound is still damp, stick a clean patch once a day. You will not receive therapy in the pool until the wound has healed because of hygiene rules.


If you have received a (temporary) stoma as a result of a bowel operation, it is important that you comply with the rules that you received from the hospital. One of the most important things you have to take into account is the fact that you are not allowed to lift more than 10 kilos and you have to be careful when carrying out heavy household tasks such as vacuuming.

When is everything ‘normal’ again?

An operation is a stressful event and can be stressful both physically and psychologically. When you go home, you can feel tired and uncomfortable for a while, but that will improve quickly. Some people need three to six months for a full recovery. It is important that you take it easy in the first few weeks and accept that you can not do the things that you want to do.