How long after open appendix surgery is it safe to resume physical work?
May 30, 2014 7:57 AM   Subscribe

I had open surgery to remove my appendix 2.5 weeks ago. The doctor (in broken English as I was on holiday) told me it would be 45 days before I could do anything physically straining, an opinion that is shared by all of my colleagues and friends/family. I work in the Netherlands as a chef, which is a very physical job. The system here is that you get referred through your employer to a specific doctor who evaluates you and says when you can get back to work. This doctor just told me I can go back to work full time immediately. Who is right?

In your experiences, how long did it take before you could safely and confidently act as you did physically before you had the surgery? At the moment I can move around no problem, but even walking or standing up for a few hours gives me aches and makes me tired. I really don't feel confident about going back to work at all, but feel trapped by this employer-hired doctor system they have over here. I just want to know the usual recovery time so I can work without worry I'm going to harm myself.
posted by tumples to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you go back to the doctor and explain that you cannot actually do those activities, emphasizing that you are in pain and tire too easily?
posted by epanalepsis at 8:12 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

When I had my appendix out, I was out for three weeks recovery for a desk job - my doc said I could stay out longer but I was feeling fine enough to work by then. My hospital roommate (who coincidentally was also having his appendix out too) was told by his employer (car dealership) that he had to come back to work the next day. Mine was removed laproscopically, which may have reduced my recovery time.

I'd go back to the doctor and explain the symptoms you're feeling. A few weeks rest will be much better for your employer than going back too soon and experiencing future complications.
posted by Twicketface at 8:40 AM on May 30, 2014

I just want to know the usual recovery time so I can work without worry I'm going to harm myself.
The usual recovery time won't keep you from getting hurt if you push yourself too much too soon. Six weeks (42 days) is the "normal" time I have heard after abdominal surgery. Your muscles need time to heal. Does the doctor know that your job is more than sitting at a desk all day?
posted by soelo at 8:40 AM on May 30, 2014 [4 favorites]

I had my appendix removed on a Thursday night. The following Thursday night I was back at my evening ballet class, not 100% but I was dancing. I skipped the Friday classes again (day classes, not as critical that I participate), rested that weekend, was back at day and evening classes on Monday doing as much as possible.

I was tired and had to take more breaks definitely during the first full week back and I would feel "twinges" but at the 2 week mark I don't remember being in any pain at all. I was also 17.

I'm not sure what is considered "open" surgery. I have a 2.5" scar so maybe not the same? My boyfriend had full open abdominal surgery (9" scar down his belly) and he was in the hospital for 7 days then in bed for 7 days then at home for 14 more days before going back to work (at a desk job). So I guess what do you mean by open?

But really you should listen to your body. If your body tells you not to do something yet you shouldn't be doing it.
posted by magnetsphere at 8:41 AM on May 30, 2014

6 weeks is what I remember after my open appy years ago. you will be wiped out for a while between surgery & anesthetic. Did the doctor you saw realize how physical a job you have?
posted by leslies at 8:58 AM on May 30, 2014

I just had a c section which is "open" abdominal surgery with about a 5 inch scar. For two weeks I was supposed to avoid stairs and not lift anything heavier than the baby (so, say 7-9 pounds). After that I was okayed to lift up to 20 (or in my case 25 because I have a toddler that weight) for 4 weeks. After 6 weeks total I should be considered recovered.
posted by amro at 9:01 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had a non-laparoscopic appendectomy which resulted in a 8" scar on my abdomen. I was told not to return to work for 6-8 weeks, and I had a desk job. Around week 4 I had to drive about 90 miles -- I did it, but I was nervous about it. It wasn't so much that I was worried about ripping open the wound as it was the fatigue.

Assuming by "open" you mean non-laparoscopic, I'd agree with doctor #1 et al.
posted by gnomeloaf at 9:18 AM on May 30, 2014

I was a professional chef, I have had laparoscopic abdominal surgery, but not an appy. I did have a c-section 3 years ago, and I do consider that "open" surgery.


You may not go back to work so soon.

Nope. Nope. Nada. Nooooo.

You lift too many heavy items, you work with speed, you bend and stoop a lot (often while lifting heavy items,) you are on your feet the entire shift without ANY chance to sit down....

And if you falter, you can get burned, or harm yourself or a coworker in some other fashion....

Go argue your case for continued recuperation. The doctor you saw is ignorant on many levels, up to and including they don't know the first thing about how physically demanding, and frankly, dangerous, your job is.

Hope that helps.
posted by jbenben at 11:00 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

8 weeks for me to active and walking, after mine burst on me. Bursting = tougher surgery than just inflamed but still intact, but I had laproscopic surgery. Hospital stay of 2 weeks prior to surgery, in bed, killed a lot of muscle mass.

It went something like:

3-4 months to get back to jogging.

5-6 month before resuming Crossfit comfortably.

I like exercise, so it was pretty miserable.
posted by slateyness at 11:49 AM on May 30, 2014

IANAD but here are my experiences:

My appendectomy was laparoscopic. A week in bed munching on painkillers and pudding and I was fine to go back to work. Still in some pain and discomfort, but it was an office job.

My younger sister had hers out via open surgery, and was pretty much flat on her back for six weeks, missed a lot of school.

My advice--I'm a chef too so I know how much physical movement is required--is to believe your surgeon and stay home and recuperate for six weeks.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:55 AM on June 1, 2014

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