Instructions After Foot and Ankle Surgery

This information sheet is designed to answer many common questions and does not cover all the issues that may come up during your recovery.

Swelling

Minimize swelling by keeping the foot elevated as much as possible, especially in the first two weeks. Minimize the time you maintain the foot hanging down. Elevation should be done at heart level or above. For example, elevate the foot on a chair while you are eating your meals.

Pain

The perception of pain differs across patients. Either Dr. Carreira or one of his assistants will give you a prescription for pain medication before you leave the office prior to surgery. Please let us know if you are allergic to any pain medications. If a block was given for surgery, once the pain starts to increase take a pain medication right away. To minimize side effects of the narcotics, take the medication along with food.

Bleeding

You may notice oozing through the bandages or splint. The dressings can be reinforced, that is, added to, but should not be removed. If active bleeding continues and the bandages becomes saturated please contact Dr. Carreira.

General Instructions

Move around to minimize the risk of blood clots, including in the first days after surgery. Follow all precautions regarding weight-bearing. If you have been instructed to remain non weight-bearing, use crutches, a walker, or a roll-a-bout.

If you have surgery on your forefoot (on the toes or the part of the foot near the toes), you will be given a postoperative shoe or a Darco wedge shoe to use after surgery. You are to wear it at all times unless otherwise instructed by Dr. Carreira.

If you develop an allergic reaction (i.e. rash or hives), stop taking the medication and contact Dr. Carreira. If you develop significant shortness of breath or swelling in your face or body because of an allergic reaction, consider going to the emergency room immediately. To decrease the side effects of narcotics, eat prior to taking the medication. To prevent constipation, take a stool softener and increase fiber in your diet.

Apply ice over the surgical area for the first two to three days. 15 minutes on, and 30 minutes off is a good guideline. If you have a large boot or a bulky splint in place, use a clean kitchen garbage bag full of ice to drape over it. While the anesthesia block is in place after surgery, you may not feel ice that has been placed directly onto your skin, which can lead to frostbite. Whenever you apply ice, make sure that there are dressings in between the ice and your foot or ankle.

Do not remove your dressing unless specifically instructed to do so. Options for cleanliness include taking a sponge bathe or hanging the foot over the side of the tub. We suggest that you enter the tub first, hang the foot over the edge of the tub, and then turn on the water. Empty the tub prior to getting out. Showering is possible only if the limb is covered well with a plastic cover. Be careful with wet surfaces and get help as needed, especially while taking narcotics. If the bandages or splint get wet, they need to be removed and changed immediately.

If you develop a fever or chills, and if the pain in the operated area seems to have increased unexpectedly, please contact Dr. Carreira.

Rarely, the bandages split or the cast may become too tight due to swelling, requiring that the bandages be split be released or changed before your scheduled appointment.

When you return home from your surgery, please contact Dr. Carreira at 954-792-1010 to schedule a follow up appointment.