You had peripheral artery bypass surgery to reroute the blood supply around a blocked artery in one of your legs. Your surgeon made an incision (cut) over the area where the artery was blocked. This may have been in your leg or groin, or the lower part of your belly. Clamps were placed over the artery at each end of the blocked section. A special tube called a graft was sewn into the artery to replace the blocked part.
You may have stayed in the intensive care unit (ICU) for 1 to 3 days after surgery. After that, you stayed in a regular hospital room.
Your incision may be sore for several days. You should be able to walk farther now without needing to rest. Full recovery from surgery may take 6 to 8 weeks.
Walk short distances 3 to 4 times a day. Slowly increase how far you walk each time.
When you are resting, keep your leg raised above the level of your heart to prevent leg swelling:
You will have more leg swelling after walking or sitting. If you have a lot of swelling, you may be doing too much walking or sitting, or eating too much salt in your diet.
When you climb stairs, use your good leg first when you go up. Use your leg that had surgery first when you go down. Rest after taking several steps.
Your doctor will tell you when you can drive. You may take short trips as a passenger, but try to sit in the backseat with your leg that had surgery raised up on the seat.
If your staples have been removed, you will probably have Steri-Strips (small pieces of tape) across your incision. Wear loose clothing that does not rub against your incision.
You may shower or get the incision wet, once your doctor says you can. Do not soak, scrub, or have the shower beat directly on them. If you have Steri-Strips, they will curl up and fall off on their own after a week.
Do not soak in the bath tub, a hot tub, or swimming pool. Ask your doctor or nurse when it you can start doing these activities again.
Your doctor will tell you how often to change your dressing (bandage) and when you may stop using one. Keep your wound dry. If your incision goes to your groin, keep a dry gauze pad over it to keep it dry.
Bypass surgery does not cure the cause of the blockage in your arteries. Your arteries may become narrow again.
Call your doctor or nurse if:
Aortobifemoral bypass - discharge; Femoropopliteal - discharge; Femoral popliteal - discharge; Aorta-bifemoral bypass - discharge; Axillo-bifemoral bypass - discharge; Ilio-bifemoral bypass - discharge
Creager MA and Libby P. Peripheral arterial disease. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, eds. Libby: Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Saunders; 2011:chap 51.
Eisenhauer AC, White CJ. Endovascular treatment of noncoronary obstructive vascular disease. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 63.
Updated by: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, Washington Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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