Exercise is the best way to get more strength after surgery. Once you are discharged from the hospital, you may begin light exercise.
The best form of exercise after transplant is walking. We recommend starting off at a slow pace and increasing your tolerance to 30 minutes a day.
Swimming is also a good exercise, but swim only in treated pools. Public pools, lakes, or rivers contain excessive bacteria.
Exercise should be a gradual process. If you experience any pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or irregular heartbeats during exercise, stop immediately.
Avoid lifting anything heavier than 15 pounds for the first month after transplant. After surgery, your abdominal muscles are weak. If you overexert them, you can cause a hernia.
Weightlifting, sit-ups, and pushups are restricted for the first three months after transplant. Ask your transplant team before beginning any new exercise program.
You should not drive for at least one month after transplant. This is to protect your new organ from injury should you have an automobile accident and the steering wheel hit you near the wound.
Your vision and depth perceptions may also be impaired during this time due to higher doses of anti-rejection medication.
If you ride in a vehicle, wear a seatbelt as it will not hurt your new organ.
If you have a partially healed wound, then you may place a small towel or pillow under the seatbelt for protection.
You may return to work or school when you feel that you are ready and you have been cleared to do so by the transplant team. Remember that you will have regular appointments and lab tests included in your schedule. The goal is to get you back to a normal, productive life after transplant.
You may resume sexual activity when you and your partner are ready.
Condoms are vital to prevent the spread of diseases, especially if you have hepatitis.
Birth control is recommended for all patients.
You should wait at least one year after transplant before considering pregnancy or fathering a child. Childbirth while taking immunosuppressants is associated with an increased risk of birth defects. If you are considering pregnancy or become pregnant, discuss this with your transplant team so that your medications can be adjusted if necessary.
Many men become impotent as a result of their liver disease. After transplant, sexual function normally returns. However, some post-transplant medications can prolong periods of impotency.
Many females who have not had menstrual cycles during their disease will see them return within a few months after transplant. Ovulation can resume even before the cycles begin. This is why it is important to use birth control and discuss concerns about childbearing with your transplant team.
We recommend that all women use a condom, diaphragm, or spermicides. IUDs are not recommended due to the increased risk of infection. Check with your transplant team before considering birth control pills.
We advise patients not to do any extensive traveling during the first six months after their transplant.
Traveling to third world countries is not recommended due to the risk of exposure to serious infections.
Remember to keep your medications with you while you are traveling, and never place them in a bag that needs to be checked at a terminal. This will prevent you from ever being out of medicine in case your luggage does not meet your destination.
Consider wearing a medical alert bracelet when traveling or at home. This will help other physicians know your general health status in case of an emergency.
Because you are taking immunosuppressive medications, you are at an increased risk for developing certain cancers, particularly skin cancer. Here are some suggestions for decreasing sun exposure:
You must wear SPF 30 sun block or greater.
Wear protective clothing, including hats and long sleeves.
Limit time in the sun.
Avoid the sun between 10 am and 2 pm.
Never use artificial tanning beds, tanning lotions, or tanning lamps.
Examine your skin regularly and report any changes to moles or lesions.
Have your skin examined by a health professional once a year.
To find out more about the Methodist Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation, call us at 713-441-8839 or at 866-94-LIVER (866-945-4837) or send us an email.