I'll soon be having heart valve surgery for heart valve disease. What is my recovery going to be like?

Recovery from heart valve surgery can take time. If you have open-heart surgery, such as a heart valve repair or replacement, recovery usually lasts four to eight weeks. Recovery may be quicker if you have minimally invasive heart surgery — a surgery done using tools inserted through smaller cuts in your chest.

Some heart valve procedures can be done using long, thin tubes inserted into a blood vessel in your arm or groin. Recovery may be shorter than with open-heart surgery.

Recovery starts in the hospital, usually for several days. You'll then return home to finish your recovery.

Your doctor will likely give you specific directions to follow during your recovery. For example, you may need to:

  • Avoid driving
  • Avoid lifting more than a certain amount of weight
  • Stay home from work
  • Follow certain physical restrictions such as not raising your arms
  • Be careful with the surgical cut sites and check for signs of infection
  • Gradually increase your activity level
  • Follow instructions for managing pain
  • Eat healthy meals
  • Ask for help from family and friends
  • Follow up regularly with your doctor for appointments and tests
  • Begin cardiac rehabilitation, a program of education and exercise designed to help you improve your health and recover after heart surgery

It's also possible you'll notice some mood changes, such as depression, after heart surgery. If you notice mood changes or feel depressed, talk to your doctor. You might also consider joining a support group of other people who have heart valve disease or who've had heart valve surgery.

After several weeks, you'll likely be able to start getting back into your usual daily routine and notice you have more energy.


Rekha Mankad, M.D.

Jan. 14, 2020 See more Expert Answers