On January 28th 2019 I had a partial colectomy surgery where 8″ of my large intestines were removed because of a polyp that was too large to snip out during my colonoscopy. This is a pretty serious surgery that affects your digestion system and I was told that it would be 8 weeks before I could go back to my normal exercising routine that includes lifting fairly heavy weights 🙂
They performed the surgery by making 5 different incisions into my abdominal walls with one of the cuts larger than the others (3″) so they could remove the large intestine section. I counted 28 staples in all and my abs looked like I took a grenade to the gut.
My goal, once I knew I was going to have surgery was to determine what I could do to speed up the healing process.
Results of my recovery protocol:
I was able to reduce my recovery from 8 weeks down to 5 weeks, shaving 3 weeks off of what my recovery would have been, had I done nothing at all.
Thom’s surgery recover protocol
- Training- Continued to train in the gym, but focused on muscular endurance (higher rep sets) and lots of core work.
- Diet- Eased up on my low carb diet to the point where I was not in ketosis anymore, but I wanted to make sure I was eating a very balanced diet with lots of different colored foods.
- Did a 24 hour fast a couple days before the surgery to reset the gut and take advantage of Autophagy (“self-eating”), a detox process your body undergoes to clean out damaged cells and regenerate new ones.
- Did 2 sessions of Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), a medical treatment which enhances the body’s natural healing process by inhalation of 100% oxygen in a total body chamber, where atmospheric pressure is increased and controlled. I did this before surgery to get body primed for healing in higher oxygen atmosphere.
- Because I was on very strong antibiotics for the surgery, I knew my gut biome was barren of any good enzymes of bacteria. I researched and found the best (expensive) IMO probiotic on the market today, VSL#3
- Continued the HBOT treatments for 2 weeks after surgery.
- Added Low-Level Laser Therapy that works by using specific wavelengths of light to interact with tissue and help speed up the healing process.
- Diet- continued low carb diet, but reduced caloric intake by about 30% because of both being less active and because studies have shown that your body heals faster in a lower caloric state. Plus I backed off meat because I didn’t want to tax my large intestines with something that was harder to digest.
- Exercise- At week 2, when my staples were removed, I immediately started into “core restore” program designed by my friend Chris Kelly
- The “core restore” program for me was a series of exercises that focused on breathing and tightening your abdominal muscles statically, without all the dynamic movement of regular ab exercises that could have opened the incisions from my surgery. I would more call it “deep core work“.
- I had my favorite Physical Therapist Michael Ryan of Leading Edge Physical Therapy work on my wounds at week 4 to help soften the scar tissue up. Fresh scar tissue is very in-elastic and can shorten the muscle fibers making it easier to
injurin the future if you don’t find a way to lengthen the fibers.
I did not take advantage of electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) or Cyo-therapy, both are also good techniques to speed up the healing process.