A prostatectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the prostate gland. There are two types of procedures: a simple prostatectomy and a radical prostatectomy. A simple prostatectomy is the removal of the prostate and a radical prostatectomy is the removal of the prostate and surrounding tissues. While you will receive post-operative instructions from your physician, here are some answers to frequently asked questions
What should I avoid post-surgery?
It’s important to avoid activities that will stress or strain your incision. Normal daily activities such as using the toilet, changing positions, or lifting groceries can place undue stress on your surgical site. It’s important to try not to strain (hold your breath and bear down) while having a bowel movement. You also want to avoid constipation, as this will put too much stress on your surgical site. To protect your incision while coughing or sneezing, place either a pillow or your hands over your lower abdomen or the incisional area to support it and counteract the intra-abdominal pressure.
What can I lift?
You should avoid lifting anything greater than 10 pounds for the first six weeks post-surgery. After six weeks, you can gradually increase the weight of items that you lift, but avoid lifting anything that you feel maybe difficult to handle. Be aware of your technique while lifting. It’s extremely important to use proper body mechanics when lifting any items. You want to bend your knees, keep your back straight, contract your lower abdominal and pelvic floor muscles simultaneously, and bring the object close to your navel (your center of gravity) when you lift any object, regardless of its weight.
When can I exercise?
Your physician will provide you with instructions stating when it is okay to begin an exercise program. Initially, you should only climb stairs, as needed, to get into your home or your bedroom. As you are ready to increase your activity, the best place to start is by implementing a gentle walking program to gradually build up your endurance for return to activities. Start with short distances around your home in the first week. Continue with a low-level gentle walking program until you follow up with your physician to assess how you are healing and when you are ready for more physical activity.
What do I do about urinary incontinence?
Damage can occur to the urinary sphincter, a small muscle which helps retain urine within the bladder, during prostate removal. If this occurs, you may lose the ability to control the flow of your urine, which is called urinary incontinence. You may experience leaking of urine from the bladder which can be embarrassing. Physical therapy treatment with a Men’s Health therapist can assist you with relearning how to contract the pelvic floor muscles properly. These exercises are called Kegel exercises and can help regain your continence to avoid urinary leaking in the future. Often times, biofeedback is used to assist with strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. Biofeedback is a machine that is able to read your muscle activity in the pelvic floor to assure that you are contracting the muscles properly. This will assist you and your therapist with progression of your exercises. Additionally, your physical therapist will initiate an abdominal muscle strengthening program and review lifting techniques to assure proper form. Your treatment focus will be to help to increase strength of the pelvic floor, hips and abdominals to work together to resume all functional activities of daily living.
If you have more questions about your physical therapy treatment post-surgically, please contact one of our knowledgeable Men’s Health specialists today for a complimentary screening.