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The first few days post-surgery can be the most challenging due to pain, swelling, and general tiredness following anesthesia. Dr. Marc House at Kinetic Foot and Ankle Clinic sets clear expectations for post-surgical instructions.  Following these instructions helps to ensure proper recovery and better outcomes for the patient.

The basics of post-surgical care relate to:

  • Pain Relief
  • Your Incision
  • Swelling Reduction
  • Weightbearing
  • Reporting Post-Op Issues

Pain Relief

The anesthesia from surgery will wear off, so start taking the medications as instructed by your surgeon before this happens so you can “stay ahead of the pain.” Always take your medication as prescribed.  Be sure to pick up your prescriptions before the day of surgery to avoid any unnecessary discomfort. Although it is uncommon, report an adverse reaction immediately.

Your Incision

It is very important to keep your incision and bandages dry and clean.  It is normal to have some blood on the bandage. Do not remove the bandages unless instructed by your surgeon.  Protect your foot and ankle from getting wet when you bathe.

Swelling Reduction

To reduce swelling, your foot and ankle should be raised slightly above the level of your heart.  Swelling is also reduced by icing the operative area. While the bulkier bandage is still in place, you can place the ice at the underside of the knee of the same leg as the surgical site. Follow the instructions for icing provided by Dr. House in your post-surgical care packet.


Your foot and ankle surgeon will instruct you on how much weight you are able to put on your foot: non-weight bearing, partial-weight bearing, or full-weight bearing.  Be sure to follow the instructions provided so as to not hinder your recovery.

If you are required to be non-weight bearing you will require the use of crutches or a knee caddy to keep the foot from having any weight on it. Always wear your removeable pneumatic walking boot while up and moving to ensure the site is well-protected.

Partial-weight bearing also utilizes a removeable pneumatic walking boot to protect the site while walking or moving around, and the patient is permitted to place some weight on the foot.  We recommend keeping required activity lower than normal; no more than 10-15 minutes of use per hour.  It is also important to avoid prolonged standing.

It is less common to be full-weight bearing following surgery, but for those instances the patient will wear a surgical shoe for the first few days and may participate in walking or other activity as tolerated.  It is recommended to let pain be your guide.

Reporting Post Op Issues

Be aware of changes to your symptoms that could indicate a possible concern.  Call our office immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Severe swelling or pain in the calf
  • Excessive amounts of blood on the bandage
  • Toes, foot, and/or ankle becomes cold or turns pale
  • Blue or white toes or toenail beds
  • Redness that begins to spread away from the surgical site
  • Foul odor from the surgical site
  • Fever above 102 degrees
  • Severe pain that is not reduced with pain medication.

Your Care Partner

Dr. Marc House and the staff at Kinetic Foot and Ankle Clinic is here to guide you through the surgery process.  Ask about any concerns prior to your surgery, as getting things lined up before your procedure can truly make a big difference in your post-surgery experience!

Author Kinetic Foot and Ankle Clinic Our office staff works with Dr. House to curate content that is relevant, helpful, and interesting to provide you with insights, updates, and facts about foot and ankle health. Dr. Marc House is a foot and ankle surgeon in Aurora, CO serving patients from all over the Denver area.

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