What is Life Like After Liver Transplant?
Liver transplant is a major surgery and post-surgery care is equally important for ensuring that liver transplant lasts for long. All the patient needs to do is follow strict compliance to the overall routine prescribed by the physician.
The patient will be able to lead a perfectly normal life post-transplant as well , just that initially it takes time, falling back into a normal routine. The body will take time to adjust to the transplanted liver and heavy dose of medications to facilitate the process. People can resume normal work post three –four months after surgery and should be able to carry out most of their normal chores. Extensive physical activities like sports and exercising can also be done. The only factor being compliance to the discharge summary and follow up with the doctor is done religiously. A perfectly performed liver transplant would hardly affect the patient’s post-surgery quality of life, if followed up properly with the necessary lifestyle changes.
Will I suffer from post-surgical pain?
Yes the pain would be there since the nerves re-sever during the initial abdominal incision. It takes around 4-6 months to regenerate completely. However, the pain is not debilitating and with proper pain medications, it can usually be borne.
For how long do I need to take medications?
The physician will prescribe 7-10 different type of medications to account for the altered physiology and to acknowledge the presence of new tissue. Medicines like analgesics, antibiotics as well as immunosuppressants might be prescribed. As the period after transplantation increases, the dose and number of drugs taken is reduced with only 1-2 medicines left post 6 months. While the overall improvement in health and improved recovery would lead to reduced doses, frequency as well as types of medicines, the patient needs to carry on with immunosuppressants. These medicines should be taken as prescribed, since missed doses or temporary discontinuation may lead to organ rejection and organ failure.
Any dietary restrictions that I need to follow?
Alcohol is strictly forbidden. Since it is in the liver where alcohol is actively metabolized, alcohol consumption can cause further liver damage. It may also lead to interference in the functioning of certain drugs.
Can I be sexually active again?
Although many patients suffer from temporary impotence prior to surgery, their post-surgery libido is increased. However, it is a gradual process, but there are no restrictions because of the surgery. Using protective barriers like condoms is highly advised, since immunosuppressed individuals would have higher chances of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
It is essential to note that with proper post-op follow up cases, liver transplant surgeries have been highly successful. Patients have been able to lead normal lives, almost upto 30 years post-surgery.