Your surgeon took a vein or artery from another part of your body to create a detour, or bypass, around an artery that was blocked and could not bring enough blood to your heart.
Your surgery was done through an incision (cut) in your chest. If the surgeon went through your breastbone, the surgeon repaired it with wire and a metal plate, and your skin was closed with stitches. You also had an incision made in your leg or arm, where the vein was taken to be used for the bypass.
After surgery, it takes 4 to 6 weeks to completely heal and start feeling better. It is normal to:
You should have someone stay with you in your home for at least the first 1 to 2 weeks after surgery.
Learn how to check your pulse, and check it every day.
Do the breathing exercises you learned in the hospital for 4 to 6 weeks.
Shower every day, washing the incision gently with soap and water. Do NOT swim, soak in a hot tub, or take baths until your incision is completely healed. Follow a heart-healthy diet.
If you feel depressed, talk with your family and friends. Ask your health care provider about getting help from a counselor.
Continue to take all your medicines for your heart, diabetes, high blood pressure, or any other conditions you have.
Stay active during your recovery, but start slowly.
Do not drive for at least 4 to 6 weeks after your surgery. The twisting involved in turning the steering wheel may pull on your incision. Ask your provider when you may return to work, and expect to be away from work for about 6 to 8 weeks.
Do not travel for at least 2 to 4 weeks. Ask your provider when travel is OK. Also ask your provider before starting sexual activity again. Most of the time it is OK after 4 weeks.
You may be referred to a formal cardiac rehabilitation program. You will get information and counseling regarding activity, diet, and supervised exercise.
For the first 6 weeks after your surgery, you must be careful about using your arms and upper body when you move.
Brushing your teeth is okay, but do not do other activities that keep your arms above your shoulders for any period of time. Keep your arms close to your sides when you are using them to get out of bed or a chair. You may bend forward to tie your shoes. Always stop if you feel pulling on your breastbone.
Your health care provider will tell you how to take care of your chest wound. You will likely be asked to clean your surgical cut every day with soap and water, and gently dry it. Do not use any creams, lotions, powders, or oils unless your provider tells you it is okay.
If you had a cut or incision on your leg:
Call your provider if:
Off-pump coronary artery bypass - discharge; OPCAB - discharge; Beating heart surgery - discharge; Bypass surgery - heart - discharge; CABG - discharge; Coronary artery bypass graft - discharge; Coronary artery bypass surgery - discharge; Coronary bypass surgery - discharge
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Updated by: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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