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Old 04-22-2013, 06:45 AM   #1
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Question Gastroc Recession - what is it like and how are you after recovery?

Hi there - I am scheduled for flat foot restructive surgery to include a gastroc recession. My surgeon didn't really go into details, so I am curious to know from those that had a gastroc recession done -
1) what does the incision look like after surgery - how big? issues?
2) how do you deal with this incision on the back of your leg while dealing with your foot at the same time? can you put pillows under your calf?
3) what does it feel like after surgery? I read somewhere that it was like someone smacked you in the leg
4) do you have a scar after full recovery? how big? can I ever wear a dress again?
5) I've read that your calf with the gastroc recession shrinks to half the size of the other calf; this really freaks me out. After PT does it match the other calf or do they remain different sizes?
6) is there anything I can do prior to surgery to prepare myself better for a gastroc recession - special exercises?

Thanks in advance for any and all info on the gastroc recession.

 
Old 04-22-2013, 07:09 AM   #2
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Re: Gastroc Recession - what is it like and how are you after recovery?

Mine was endoscopic, so of my 4 incisions, that scar is TINY - maybe half an inch? And it's not on the back of my calf, but sort of the inside of my shin. It's not at all raised; more like a flat red mark. I've had very limited pain related to that; it mostly felt like a pulled muscle, which my surgeon said is totally normal. My calf is atrophied, but I don't feel like it's in a freakish way - I can tell it's floppier and skinnier, but I don't think anyone just glancing at my bare legs would find it super-noticeable. That has more to do with 6 weeks of disuse and then another 4 of limited use. I start PT tomorrow(!), nearly 12 weeks post-op, so I hope to build back my strength fairly soon.

I really urge you to call your surgeon and get the exact name of the procedures you're having - my surgeon wrote them all down for me before I left his office, so I was able to google for the correct things and read and formulate questions.
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1/31/2013: medial sliding calcaneal osteotomy, endoscopic gastrocnemius recession, a cotton medial cuneiform osteotomy + graft, and PTT repair

 
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Old 04-22-2013, 10:01 AM   #3
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Re: Gastroc Recession - what is it like and how are you after recovery?

sorry my reply was deleted - I do have the list of procedures and this is one of them. Trust me, I have read a ton of stuff on the internet, which he doesn't like. I have no prior experience with surgeons, but I wonder if mine doesn't think that by not telling me something, I won't worry about it, when just the opposite is true. I really rather know it upfront and be prepared for it! I found out about the bone cutting and screws in my foot from googling my procedures and reading this forum! So, when I asked if this was true, he just said, "yes, it is".

 
Old 04-22-2013, 10:44 AM   #4
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Re: Gastroc Recession - what is it like and how are you after recovery?

Hun if you don't trust your surgeon I would seek another one ! You have to be on the same page for your treatment. If not it makes life so much more difficult ! Remember its your foot, your livelihood. You want to trust them with out question, as well as have them be as open and honest as you want them to be!

 
Old 04-22-2013, 11:12 AM   #5
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Re: Gastroc Recession - what is it like and how are you after recovery?

Yes, exactly what bshorter said. If your surgeon brushes off your concerns, doesn't want to explain the procedures to you, and has a problem with you doing your own research, that's a big red flag to me. Mine spent a bunch of time showing me on my x-rays exactly what he was going to do, gave me the full names of all procedures in written form, told me that he knew I'd research this and if anything I read was alarming to me, I should call immediately with my questions. He also told me that if my husband had any questions, he should feel free to call as well. Every follow up appointment since, I've taken my list of questions and he has patiently listened and answered all of them to my satisfaction.

The first question I'd have now is why he wants to perform an open procedure on you when there is a less-invasive endoscopic option. There might be a very good reason, but I'd want the full explanation if I were you.
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1/31/2013: medial sliding calcaneal osteotomy, endoscopic gastrocnemius recession, a cotton medial cuneiform osteotomy + graft, and PTT repair

 
Old 04-22-2013, 03:37 PM   #6
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Re: Gastroc Recession - what is it like and how are you after recovery?

It's not that I don't trust my surgeon, but getting a lot of detail without me knowing the questions to ask is difficult. I am seeing another surgeon but can't get in right away. I simply would never have a surgery without a 2nd opinion and this will be my 1st surgery of any type for anything. My podiadrist said that my OS literally "wrote the book" on my surgery. But, back to my orig Q - I just wanted to see what other person's experience was like, helps me to get the bigger picture.

 
Old 04-23-2013, 04:32 AM   #7
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Re: Gastroc Recession - what is it like and how are you after recovery?

My apologies - you just sounded displeased by the lack of information/communication from your surgeon.

As I said, the gastroc recession was kind of the least of my worries. It caused me very little discomfort, I'm already able to go up stairs with alternating feet (I'd read that stairs can be a problem after this procedure due to weakness), and the scar is tiny. It's the PTT & calcaneal osteotomy scars that are much larger & noticeable; the cuneiform scar isn't too bad, either.
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1/31/2013: medial sliding calcaneal osteotomy, endoscopic gastrocnemius recession, a cotton medial cuneiform osteotomy + graft, and PTT repair

 
Old 04-23-2013, 05:07 AM   #8
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Re: Gastroc Recession - what is it like and how are you after recovery?

no worries, Stylishboots (love that name!) Oh, I am a little frustrated and also just overwhelmed at the thought of a daunting surgery - if I really have to have a surgery, why couldn't it be one where they fix it and the next day you are up and about? having the 1st surgery of my life and it one with a loooong recovery is overwhelming to me. My OS is willing, and does, answer Qs but he's very direct and to the point and doesn't have long detailed answers, whereas I am overboard with detail. That said, I do have confidence in him, he is the director of the area, has a dedicated OR and does surgery 2 days a week, every week, and my particular reconstructive surgery about 3x every week. So, he's not the best communicator in my book, but he's got a boatload of experience and a ton of amazing patient reviews on various sites.

This site has really been a tremedous help and I LOVE the sticky that gives pages and pages of info on preparing your house and yourself pre-op and also post-op.

 
Old 04-23-2013, 08:30 AM   #9
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Re: Gastroc Recession - what is it like and how are you after recovery?

This was also my first surgery, ever (aside from the extraction of my wisdom teeth), so I was pretty anxious. While the recovery was and is long and daunting, the last 12 weeks have gone by REALLY fast for me. Perhaps I'm just tremendously lucky, but I have not experienced pain to the degree that some people post about on this board (and I'm a big baby about pain, not some superhuman with a high pain tolerance), my frustration level has been fairly low (even with having to crawl up and down our stairs while I was NWB - 1 bathroom, upstairs - and being housebound for 14 days due to bad weather), and I've gotten back to a lot of my life fairly quickly. I took my first shower (sitting, with my leg hanging out the curtain) on day 2 post-op; I did full hair and makeup at 1 week post-op, perched on the bathroom counter. I went to work and out to dinner, to the grocery store and to the movies, and even to my hair appointment, while NWB. I baked my Easter lamb cake and family-favorite applesauce muffins while on crutches.

Anyway, the point of all of that is that while you may be mobility-challenged, even the long recovery time doesn't necessarily mean that you can't be "up and about" at all. I prepared myself for the worst case scenario based on this board, and I have been pleasantly surprised at how much I have been able to do at each step along the way. I think there's a tendency to see more of the bad/painful/hard stuff, because people need to vent or need support, but I just wanted you to know that it could turn out to be a lot easier than you think.
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1/31/2013: medial sliding calcaneal osteotomy, endoscopic gastrocnemius recession, a cotton medial cuneiform osteotomy + graft, and PTT repair

 
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Old 07-17-2013, 07:42 PM   #10
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Re: Gastroc Recession - what is it like and how are you after recovery?

This appears to simply be a case of a doctor that does not have the best bed-side manners, but really knows his work. Not that uncommon, especially if they are from another country. Also, so much is posted on the internet, you have to be careful of the source, and this may be his concern.

I recently had this procedure done endoscopically. about 6 1/2 weeks ago on the left leg (operation on Friday, returned to work on the following Monday). Believe me, I'm a wimp on certain pain (after all, I'm a guy), but I had little to no pain, with 2 tiny (one stitch each) cuts on each side of the calf. Last Friday (July 12, 2013), I had my right leg done. As I can't drive, I took 2 weeks off work. The schedule of my doctor is: 2 weeks in a splint, 2 weeks in a walking boot (but sounds like you have other work too). The problem I now have is that for the first few days, no pain. Period. However, I recently developed a severe pain in my calf depending on the position. I think it is something I had done. Being my primary leg, it's hard NOT to use it. I'm hoping that it's a pulled muscle, but I see my doctor tomorrow for the one-week follow-up and dressing change. For taking showers, Rite Aid has a plastic boot with a rubber gasket at the top. Works great but it does restrict on my larger legs.

I hope it goes well, or given the timing, went well for you and that you are recovering at a quick pace. It is invasive surgery, even though it's done endoscopic, so it's not an in-and-out, return to full level, over night. But, as my doctor said, it's better than how other doctors are doing it by making a 6" cut on the back of your calf for the gastroc recession. Good luck!

 
Old 08-01-2013, 04:27 PM   #11
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Re: Gastroc Recession - what is it like and how are you after recovery?

I had gastroc recession/achilles slide/achilles lengthening on my left leg on 7/15/2013. As background, I had Haglunds surgery in Nov 2012 but have continued to have lots of achilles pain, tightness, etc. Many various treatments did not help, so the decision was made to try a lengthening.

7/15, noon, I was taken back to the surgical prep area and a basic health history done. Then I changed into a gown and got on a bed. The surgeon and anesthesiologist came in to review what they would be doing. It is not being done endoscopically but the incision will only be about 3" long. A sciatic nerve block would be done. An IV was started and something was added to it that put me out. When I came to about 10 mins later the block had been done. I was then wheeled into the OR. Next thing I remember is waking up about an hour later in Recovery. I had a hard splint about 5" wide along the back of my leg that curved under my foot which was in a 90 degree angled position. It was wrapped in a thick bandage and then ace bandages. I ate and drank a little something and was sent home about an hour later.

When I got home I went to bed and kept my leg elevated most of the time for about 2 days. My leg was numb for about 24 hours. I started the percocet as directed before it wore off and stayed on that for 2 days. I don't know if it was needed but I was told to keep it loaded vs letting it wear off and then find I'm in pain. Since then I have not taken any pain medicine at all.

The question was asked what was it like after surgery. Well, I took off of work for the first week and that was a good decision as I was not very mobile and felt a bit queasy from the drugs. I did rent a knee caddy/scooter and it is a lifesaver. I can't recommend it enough. I live alone in a tri-level house which makes it interesting. I have the scooter on the main floor and crutches on each of the other floors. But it's doable. I have a bench in the shower and added a handheld nozzle. I have a rubber cast cover to keep my leg dry. Everything is doable, it just takes some logistical planning.

I had to be non-weight bearing for 2 weeks. At 1 week, I went in to have the temp cast removed and was put in a cam boot. Still no weight bearing for another week. The stitches were dissolvable so didn't need to be removed. I must wear the boot 24/7. I returned to work using my scooter.

It's now the third week and I could begin weight bearing at the start of the 3rd week, which was 4 days ago. It doesn't really hurt to walk, but the back of my calf feels sore. Actually the boot causes me more discomfort than the surgery! I will walk in the boot for the third and fourth weeks, also still wearing it 24/7. I am still using my scooter to get to/from the parking lot at work as it is very far away from my desk. But I am walking in the office and at home. I have not gone to any stores etc - not ready for that. Not sure if I'll be ready to ditch the scooter next week or not. But it's rented for a month so no worries.

For weeks 5 and 6, I can discontinue the boot and wear sturdy tennis shoes. But I must still wear the boot at night. After that, I may burn the boot!

At week 5, I will begin physical therapy.

And all through this, my fingers are crossed that it fixes my problems!

Last edited by TailWagger; 08-12-2013 at 02:05 PM.

 
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