I met with the surgeon’s assistant at 16 days post-op to have the stitches removed and to do a general check-up.
Since I had never had stitches before, I was worried about any pain. I left the steri-strips on my legs until this appointment, and I would recommend doing the same to minimize exposure to bacteria. Removal of the stitches (4 long ones total) was not painless, but I just laid down on the table and tried not to think about it. The assistant replaced the steri-strips and advised me to leave them on for 5 more days and not to swim until the incisions were completely closed.
Here are a few things that I found out at this follow-up appointment for which I was not entirely prepared:
1. My incisions and the area surrounding them are still numb to the touch, and this is normal for several months. In fact, my father had his gallbladder removed 9 months ago, and he is still numb around the incision. The surgeon stated that this was due to the disturbance of nerves that are severed when the incision is made.
2. The level of physical therapy that you will require may vary, but my surgeon assigned me to go for 12 weeks, twice per week. I was unprepared for this time commitment, but I will keep everyone posted on how it progresses.
3. I was told that I would return to the gym around 6 weeks after my surgery. However, at this appointment I was told that I would be restricted to the stationary bike at 6 weeks. I would not be allowed to do any running, jumping, or heavy lifting for 3 months. The PA also said that I would probably still not feel like running at 3 months.
4. I am walking normally, with no crutches. I have a temporary disability permit for my campus that allows me to park very close to my building, but things are more or less back to normal in terms of mobility. The PA told me that as long as I am pain-free, I may move around as tolerated. However, I tire more quickly and am unable to climb more than one flight of stairs without getting tired.
5. My new nickname is Cankles McGhee. I have no ankles! My aunt, who is a PT, said that this is normal and that they will return as I bulk up my ankles again, but I was unprepared for looking somewhat like my grandma! :)
Thanks to everyone for the comments, and I hope that your treatment and recovery is going well. As always, please post any questions that you have about the process in the Comments section. Even though I am not a doctor, I can answer based on my own experience or you may receive an answer from a fellow reader!