Comparing to open heart surgery, minimally invasive aortic valve replacement is less risky and has a shorter recovery period. You may even be able to drive sooner after the procedure.
Minimally invasive heart valve replacements typically involve smaller incisions than traditional surgeries, allowing access through a smaller vein for reduced blood loss.
If you have aortic valve disease, a surgeon can replace your existing aortic valve with one made from cow, pig or human heart tissue (biological tissue valve).
People with symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, fainting spells and heart failure may benefit from aortic valve replacement surgery. Your doctor may also suggest it if tests reveal damage caused by infection or other health issues to the valve.
Your recovery time after an aortic valve replacement depends on whether you undergo open-heart surgery or minimally invasive heart surgery. Generally, minimally invasive surgeries result in less pain, blood loss and infection risk than open heart surgery does.
Your healthcare team will instruct you on how to rest, take pain medications and monitor all post-surgical instructions carefully. They also teach you how to clean and care for the incision sites and watch for signs of infection or other complications.
In most cases, your recovery from surgery should take three to six weeks. After that point, you should be able to resume normal activities and routines; however, you may still need to make some adjustments for a while.
Minimally invasive surgery has become a safer and more reliable option for many. Thanks to recent advancements, most cardiac centers now offer this procedure.
A minimally invasive procedure can reduce the need for pain medications and improve outcomes in patients with heart valve disease. At Swedish Heart & Vast Institute, our highly-trained team of cardiologists, cardiac anesthesiologists, perfusionists and operating room nurses are experienced in performing these procedures.
People with severe aortic stenosis can benefit from TAVR, or transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), an alternative to open-heart surgery. With this minimally invasive technique, surgeons replace your aortic valve through either a small incision in either your arm or groin.
If you require an aortic valve replacement, your doctor will discuss the various options with you and help determine which option is best suited to meet your individual needs. Factors such as age, type and severity of aortic valve problem, overall health status and personal preference will all be taken into account when making this decision.
Minimally invasive aortic valve replacement surgery involves replacing the damaged heart valve with an artificial one to address symptoms such as pain, regurgitation or stenosis in the aorta.
The procedure itself takes around two to three hours and is conducted by a highly-trained team of cardiac specialists. These include surgeons, anesthesiologists, perfusionists and operating room nurses.
Once the operation is over, you will be taken to a recovery area for observation and rest. It is essential that you recover as quickly and safely as possible after this procedure.
Your surgeon will also perform an echocardiogram of your heart to verify that the new valve is functioning properly. If not, another surgery may be required.
Once you feel stable, you may be transferred to the hospital room or discharged home depending on your individual condition and what surgery has been performed. Throughout your stay, medications will be given for pain management and to aid in healing.
Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions regarding taking medications. For instance, they may advise that you discontinue taking a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin) for an extended period after having surgery.
As part of your recovery process, you will be assisted to walk and move around. This can help you regain mobility and prevent deep vein thrombosis, pneumonia, and other potential complications.
Before you leave the hospital, your doctor or nurse will provide specific instructions for post-operative care. You can ask family and friends to help out with tasks like cooking, cleaning and other housework so that you can focus on getting better.
As you are recovering, your doctor or nurse will monitor your progress and offer tips on how to maintain good health and wellbeing. This may include encouraging you to exercise regularly or doing other activities which boost circulation.
Your healthcare provider can also direct you to a home health care aide who can assist with bathing, dressing and moving around.
Returning to Work
One of the advantages of minimally invasive aortic valve replacement is that you can get back to work sooner. However, it’s best to refrain from lifting heavy objects or engaging in strenuous physical activities for a while; this will aid healing of your heart and sternum as well as reduce the risk of infections (endocarditis).
Your surgeon can give you more specific time frames for recovery after the procedure, but generally speaking you should be back to a normal routine within three weeks. This includes eating healthily, exercising regularly and taking medications as prescribed by your physician.
It may be best to follow the recommended regimen for a month or two before returning to your regular schedule. At that point, your cardiologist can review your progress with you and offer any further recommendations regarding care.
In the field of cardiac surgery, recent medical advances have enabled quicker recovery times, reduced hospital stays and fewer complications. These advancements provide patients with less pain, blood loss and infection risks as well as less-invasive alternatives to open heart surgery. With these innovations, cardiac surgery can become less invasive while still providing optimal care.
It is essential to remember that your recovery time will depend on several factors, including age, health and the type of aortic valve replacement you had. While it’s impossible to guarantee an exact timeline for recovery after minimally invasive surgery, it is wise to plan ahead and estimate that more than 3 months may be required for recuperation after such surgery.
Returning to Activities
When your aortic valve, which opens and closes with each heartbeat, becomes damaged, it can have serious implications for both your health and everyday life. In some cases, aortic valve replacement surgery may be necessary to restore oxygen-rich blood flow throughout your body.
Minimally invasive aortic valve replacement surgery typically provides a more comfortable recovery than open-heart surgery. In this procedure, the surgeon makes only a small incision between your ribs instead of making an extensive incision through your chest as with traditional open-heart surgery.
Your surgeon can estimate how long it will take for you to resume normal activities after surgery. However, it’s essential that you understand that recovery times vary based on individual medical condition and type of aortic valve repair you receive.
After surgery, you may be able to go home the same day or need to spend a few days in the hospital. Your surgeon will discuss your specific recovery plan with you and ensure all physical and emotional needs are taken care of during this time.
Within one month of having an aortic valve replacement, you should be ready to leave the hospital and begin your cardiac rehabilitation program. This consists of medically supervised exercises, nutrition guidance, stress management techniques and more designed to help improve your health after surgery.
Cardiac rehabilitation is designed to help you regain your strength, flexibility and balance after surgery. Additionally, it teaches you healthy habits that can be maintained independently after the procedure.
One study published in 2019 suggests that an exercise-based cardiac rehab program can increase activity after aortic valve surgery, whether you had open-heart or TAVR procedures. This may lead to a more active lifestyle after your valve replacement and reduce the need for further surgery in the future.
As you recover from surgery, it’s normal to feel tired or fatigued – especially after exerting yourself. Your doctor will work together with you to determine when it is safe for you to begin engaging in light activities again. Starting slowly and gradually is best for both your health and recovery process.