Post CABG recovery: Hello, I hope... - British Heart Fou...

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Post CABG recovery


Hello, I hope everyone is well.

I have a couple of questions for anyone who has trod the post-cardiac surgery path before me.

I had a CABG on the 5th March and I am very happy with my recovery so far; I am walking for exercise and increasing my distance - although I wish it would warm up a bit. I'm a bit frustrated I can't yet lift heavy things as there is so much to do in the garden!

I have a couple of questions: I'm still wearing anti DVT stockings more than 4 weeks after the event. I am mobile and I'd like to get rid of them... I've read I should wear them for 6 weeks, just wondered if anyone had any other experiences. I have a long scar on my right leg where they harvested the vein. No pain but oh, it itches.

My sternotomy wound is very good and discomfort is minimal (although a sudden sneeze is not recommended) but I do have what feels like neuralgic pain on the skin on my chest a few inches on each side of the scar. Anyone else had anything similar?

I am seeing my CT surgical team in a week and I have lots of questions for them.

Thank you everyone!


41 Replies

Hi mate it’s nice to see your mending well, we had snow again today in Essex, we have some tomato and courgette seeds sown but nothing else so far this year, give it another couple of weeks we should start downing brassica seeds and beans.

Hey Lewis, it's good to hear from you - how are things with you? I feel great and I know I've said this before but I feel so fortunate my problems were picked up.

As I say in my message there are a couple of things I wanted some guidance on and I have to rein myself in a bit, especially in the garden. I have a small conservatory which acts like a greenhouse but I could do with putting some things out now.

Good luck with your veg and ongoing health!


Hi Neil,

Everyone is different but you seem to be doing well after just a month. I had a bypass in October last year so I am now nearly 6 months post surgery. I was discharged from hospital with a pair of extremely tight TED (Thrombo-Embolus Deterrent) stockings which irritated my leg wound. The instructions were "Once you are back to the same level of mobility as pre-surgery you will no longer be required to wear the TED stockings unless your consultant tells you otherwise." I was able to walk 2 miles on the flat quite comfortably at at a good pace after just a couple of weeks post-discharge so I stopped wearing the stockings at that point. But I continued to do leg exercises from time to time when I was sitting - just in case. I never had any swelling around the ankles.

I definitely had odd sensations on both sides of my chest wound. Sometimes I could find numb areas, sometimes tingling and occasionally I had a brief pin-prick type of sharp pain especially on the left side. All this has gone away and I can now almost forget anything has happened (apart from the continuing mental shock that I needed a CABG!). However, there are areas of my left leg that are still partially numb where they have stripped out the vein and my left knee still feels odd too. But it's gradually getting better than it was.

Everything you are experiencing sounds normal to me. You will soon be 6 weeks post op and able to lift something heavier than a kettle of water- just in time for (hopefully) better weather for gardening.

Good luck, Martin

Thank you for your thoughtful reply Martin, it is very much appreciated. I am glad your recovery is going well!

I had a couple of pairs of stockings for which I was measured, but like you I found they have irritated my leg wound. I've also had some itching and irritation on my stocking tops - not something I ever thought I would ever say in public - so I am going to leave them off today and stay with the walking. I will keep an eye on any pain, swelling or oedema.

The chest sensations are odd, aren't they? I must say I am reassured by your similar experiences. I still have a bit of 'clicking' too but I understand that's normal. I did think that the sternal wires would be tightly wound like copper wire on a magneto but I think they are a bit looser than that.

Thank you again for your message - I hope your recovery continues apace and the sun shines on you very soon!



Thanks for your reply. I'm an optimist generally and I'm just massively grateful for what the NHS has done for me during this horrendous pandemic. Diagnosis, angiogram, consultations with surgeon, echocardiogram, pre-op assessment, Covid tests, the operation itself and all post-op reviews have been done effectively and efficiently in the last 9 months - despite everything the NHS has faced. I had a few telephone reviews postponed during the height of the second wave while everyone was on covid duties - but this was understandable.

The only slight problem was that the cardio rehab team in my area were essentially doing no face-to-face rehab work since lockdown #1. Generally this would start at around 6 weeks post-op. They did some videos and pointed me to BHF rehab resources too. There's now a backlog of patients seeking rehab in my area. You may find you have to look after yourself - which I'm personally quite OK with. It's mainly common sense and the rehab team are available by phone and email for advice.


Hello Martin,

I'm with you absolutely on the brilliant support from the NHS. I worked in health services for many years before retirement but found myself in complete awe of the teams while having tests and through my hospital stay.

They did warn me that cardiac rehab may be via video link for a while but I'm trying to be proactive and extend my exercise a little each day. I used to be a fan of Qi Gong videos on You Tube and I need to start that again, although it is quite gentle. I find I also get some extra exercise when I take my diuretic and end up doing the Furusomide foxtrot for a couple of hours.

Thank you again for taking the time to message me, it is very much appreciated.

Take care of yourself and thanks for the inspiration


Morning Neil

You are doing really well on your road to recovery. I stopped wearing my stockings 4 weeks post surgery, never so relieved to dispense with them. They harvested my artery from my mammary gland and had lots of sharp pains from the left side of my chest, my surgeon explained when I had my post op check that when they harvest they rip! the artery out so after the nerve endings try to join back up and sometimes get it wrong and that’s the pain I described it as someone was pulling an Elastoplast off. He said it would take about 18 months for it to settle and he was right on the money.

I am in Scotland, so very cold still, though beautiful sunshine and snowing at the same time! Since John had his stroke we have a company who mows the lawns and the cuts the hedges they normally start the end of March haven’t come yet! Hope you enjoy getting back into your gardening very soon.

Best wishes Pauline

Good morning Pauline, it is really good to hear from you!

Oh, I'm relieved to take off the stockings too. I know they need to be tight but my leg was swelling around the scar and seems to have gone down a bit since I took them off (4.00am this morning!)

Oh wow, I'm always amazed when I think about what they do for the surgery and in reality how few symptoms I have had post op. I understand you can watch the procedure on the internet but I think I'll stick to Netflix. Your description of the pain being like having an Elastoplast taken off is very accurate.

I'm certainly not complaining about any symptoms, I am so grateful to the team that looked after me. I get to see the CT surgeon next week.

I did wonder about the arrival of spring near you. I'm sorry John has been ill with a stroke, I hope both your recovery paths are straightforward and your can get out in the garden very soon, I hope your gardeners turn up soon... and my grass needs a cut too!

Take good care of yourself


Hi Billy, glad to hear your op went well and you sound like you're on the mend!

I had my CABG 14 months ago and I am still getting aches and pains in my chest along with patches of numbness. The weather isn't helping as I have also found since my op that my chest aches and pains are worse in the cold. I was advised its approx 18 months post-op for your chest to heal as the nerve damage takes a long time to repair.

Hey Judge, it's good to hear from you.

It is good to know that the experiences I have had a the same as the ones experienced by others, it is very reassuring. It sounds like you're doing really well, although I share your dislike of the cold weather. I can't wait for warm sun!

I've said before I won't complain about my symptoms, I am so grateful to be here and still kicking. And man, I am going to kick!

Take care of yourself - I hope your recovery continues apace and you get some warm weather very soon. Thank you for taking the time to reply to me.

kind regards,


Hello and you sound as though you are doing remarkably well. After my bypass I found those stockings very hard to put on and I don’t have fat legs! However I walked around the house a lot and upstairs also and came to the conclusion that exercise helped more than the exhausting job of putting on the stocking but it’s better you ask the specialist. It’s over a year now since I had the bypass

My double bypass was in summer 2019. I'm still getting some chest discomfort (although they took the veins from my legs). It's definitely post-operative and not further issues - I had a really thorough check-up not too long ago. But generally my health has been excellent, so the discomfort is just one of those things. Encouraging to hear others here say that 18 months is normal for the chest to recover, as I'm around that point!

[I was unlucky enough to get shingles recently, and it's even possible that it was early signs of that that led me to seek help, culminating in the check, but there was no rash at that point and I'm not quite sure how slowly it can come on. Anyway, they didn't find anything, but the shingles came out not long afterwards. Obviously, testing for cardio, and with no rash at that point, there wouldn't be anything to spot even if that were the cause.]

Hey Fixedrider, thank you for your message, I really appreciate it. Yes, it does seem like symptoms will linger for a while.

How has your 18 months been? It is great news you are in excellent health - apart from shingles. I do feel so fortunate that my problems were picked up and dealt with when other people aren't so lucky.

Sorry to hear you had shingles, that must have been very unpleasant. I hope you are over them now or you are very soon.

Take care of yourself and thanks again for taking the time to reply to me, it means a lot.

Best wishes,


Apart from the shingles, my 18 months has been excellent. I quickly got up to walking five miles a day, then with winter and lockdown a year ago progressed to cycling on Zwift. All in all, I'm fitter than I've been for years, even though I've always had the reputation among friends of being "the cyclist".

Hey Polly, it's good to hear from you.

I understand the need for the stockings but I did find them uncomfortable and irritating, especially on the wound. I think the stockings caused the leg with the wound to be quite swollen. I'll keep an eye on my leg and any swelling but I will be out for a walk shortly.

I couldn't put the stockings on at all... I needed my partner Sara to help me; she doesn't live with me so I had to rely on her goodwill. Luckily she has lots of it and is very patient.

It sounds like you are recovering really well: I hope you can enjoy some warm weather soon and your recovery continues apace. Thank you for your message to me, I really appreciate it.

kind regards,


All sounds very familiar, lots of strange sensations during the healing period. Top tip is to take Cardio Nurse advice and stick with the pain killers for recommended period, I didn't and put myself through unnecessary discomfort (it's a man thing ) Nearly six years down the line and doing great five mile hike and cardio exercise every morning, just need an anti ageing elixir to cap things off 😀

Billy_Bedstead in reply to mapgo

Hello magpo,

thank you for your message. I do get the point about painkillers and the man thing, I do remind myself of that occasionally but I still act against my rational side. You are so right, there are many odd sensations.

I was so happy to get out of hospital ( I was in ITU slightly longer than expected) I didn't ask the questions I needed answers to, although the hospital were wonderful and I can ring for advice any time. I have an appointment next week - and a long list.

Many congratulations on your recovery and impressive long hikes every morning - if you find the elixir let me know!

Thank you for taking the time to reply, I really appreciate it.

best wishes,


Hi Neil,

I'm almost 3 years post triple bypass op and still have some issues with my chest muscles and harvest sites. I get the same sort of ache as you describe in my chest, though this does respond to massage. I had a vein taken from my right leg and the area just above my ankle is still numb. I am not sure it will ever recover. An artery was taken from my left arm and there is some numbness at the wrist and the base of my thumb. I have stopped wearing a wrist watch as it can be annoying.

With regards to DVT stockings, I dispensed with these a couple of days after surgery. I was very active prior to my op and once disconnected from drain lines, catheter and other paraphernalia, I was permitted to take regular walks around the area of the hospital that I was in. Others on the ward that I was in were much less mobile and still wearing stockings. I guess the fact that I was up and about made them unnecessary.

It's good to know that you are making good progress. You have the summer ahead of you and there will be plenty of time to be doing what you want to do, so keep positive and hang on in there.

All the best,


Good morning Gerald,

Thank you so much for your message, I do appreciate it. Congratulations on the three years - I'm impressed you were walking around the hospital so early on post operatively, you must have made the physio team very happy!

I have said in other posts I feel so fortunate to have had my problems picked up and diagnosed quite rapidly, and I'll put up with the symptoms I have now. I guess I'm resigned to them being a longstanding feature and that's OK. I am so encouraged by the experienced CABGers on here.

I am looking forward to the summer, I know we all are for different reasons and it has been a tough year even without surgery. I hope you have a great summer too and continue with your hikes and cardio work.

Best wishes


Hi Neil,

Well, I was walking in the Cheviot hills just a couple of days before my op. The nursing staff were amazed that I sat up and I got out of bed into a chair without assistance just 36 hours post op. It certainly helped having a decent core strength.

Take care and keep well. 😀


BillyHope this helps this was given to me by cardio nurses. Regarding lifting please go very slowly you may feel fine but remember that sternum bone needs a lot of time to heal and your chest muscles halve been thru a lot. Small steps.

Take care

Ted Stockings

Hey girlreid,

That's really helpful - I didn't have an info sheet as clear and plain as that. I will take it easy with the sternum. I'm so keen to get into the garden and throw things around (creatively of course) but I am resisting.

I will meet with the surgical team next week and ask them lots of questions.

Thank you for your message, I really appreciate it.

I hope you are well and that you're ready for the sunshine when it arrives.

Take care


Should have added

Keep your leg wound moist with gentle massage I used E45 lotion. If the wound dries up it is easily torn when putting on stockings. I still occasionally wear them when golfing. 18 months post triple bypass

I will take heed of that good advice. I read somewhere that bio oil is very good too. I have some E45 in my medicine cupboard, I’ll seek it out.

I don’t play golf but I’m a keen walker so I’m looking forward to getting out into the countryside when we are allowed.

Look after yourself


El-Tel1990 in reply to gilreid1

Fellow golfer here and am 3 months post CABG x 4. I’m looking forward to picking up my sticks again. How soon did you return to golf after your surgery?Best regards


gilreid1 in reply to El-Tel1990


I tried some short chipping after twelve weeks after about sixteen weeks I was able to play nine holes then slowly build up from there. But the lockdown hit and put me back a bit. Now no problems

Slowly slowly is the key


El-Tel1990 in reply to gilreid1

Appreciate that. I have pencilled in 26th as my comeback day. So that’s 19 weeks after surgery. I’ve been chipping in the garden with no reaction and am walking easily 5 miles per day. Can’t wait to return and to get me in the mood, The Masters.Yours in golf !

Good luck to you and Gil with the golf!

Hey Gil, great news about the golf, good luck with it!

Hi Billy, I'm three months post double CABG. The sister at Barts told me my mobility was fine and I left hospital on day 5 post op without my lovely stockings...lucky me! I also have numbness around my chest wound - it's not as numb as it was so the feeling seems to be gradually coming back. I'm not sure at what stage we are ok with lifting heavier weights, I am doing my cardio rehab exercises religiously every other day, and walk 6 or 7 miles each weekend day and at least a mile a day in the week. But carrying bags or doing heavy stuff in the garden still seems a bit risky...

Hey Brixcos, thank you for the message, I really appreciate it.

I think I was a bit slow in dumping the stockings looking at other people's comments. And I thought I was a risk taker! The sensations around the chest are strange aren't they? I don't like bending over to pick things up as it seems to put pressure on my sternum, but if I squat down keeping a straight back and use my legs it stretches the leg wound. But hey, I get by!

I'm unsure about heavy weights too. I really do try to do as I'm told. But it is tempting...

You seem to be cracking on with the cardio, well done, that's impressive. You say you walk more at the weekends - are you back at work?

I hope the recovery continues to go so well. 3 months is really a short time and you've achieved so much.

Take care!


I think the worst sternum feeling is when I get out of bed in the morning, it feels like my chest needs holding together sometimes!

I started a phased return to work three weeks ago, and will be back full time from next Monday (though I only work 3 days a week luckily). All is going well, though it will be tough doing a whole day!!

I'm currently investigating my "stage 4 recovery" options, which basically seems to mean you have to pay for your "independent" exercise sessions should you decide to go that route. I am hoping to get some help with upper body strength, so I don't under- or over-do it and can get to work in the garden again soon!

Thanks for your positive feedback on my progress, I am pretty pleased with myself 🥰 and hope you continue to make good progress too. It's so good to talk to people on this forum, no one else really quite understands, do they...!

Ha - yes there is a technique to turning, sitting up and getting out of bed!

I am so impressed with your return to work. I am pretty much retired but would like to do something work related at some point. I can't imagine what it would be like to go back to do full days, even three a week. Good luck with your return, although I am sure you'll be absolutely fine.

I haven't had any rehab yet but I'll consider doing a gym or doing something more structured - is that what you meant by stage 4 recovery?

I think you are doing remarkably well - long may it continue!

I have found the people on here really, really helpful and friendly. You are quite right: no one else really understands!

Best wishes,


Hi Neil, I'd thoroughly recommend contacting your cardiac nurse or GP and asking for access to the my m health app, or have a look at the BHF series of YouTube videos which are great and which I've been doing since about week 6, I think. They are an hour long which gives the heart a good low level workout, and all the exercises are easy enough but you can put in as much effort (or as little! ) as you personally want. In my area they are talking about starting some Zoom rehab classes but the nurse thinks I'm past that (I think it's more the fact that I'm motivated and exercise regularly so they probably want to keep the classes for people who need a bit more encouragement...) That's why the nurse refers to me as Stage 4 - independent so off their books.

Keep up the positivity!

Good morning Brix,

Many thanks for those tips, I certainly will check those videos and that info out.

I've started walking regularly and that feels so liberating. The inclines get to me although its getting better. The ward I was on did give me a post- discharge call and encouraged me to call them, which of course I didn't do.

I have an appointment next week with the CT surgeon so I am hoping we can set some things up from that clinic - I'm also hoping there'll be a cardio nurse specialist somewhere near.

I have to say I have found this site invaluable: conversations like the ones I have had with you have offered me so much wisdom and insight.

Good luck with your ongoing rehab and thanks for passing on your positivity!


I should say as well, the physio team sent me a video of breathing exercise and a neat little inspired volume breath machine, as well as a set of comprehensive paper guidance.

They were all brilliant and I hope I've lived up to their expectations of me.

Brilliant, Neil - you're doing all the right things and sounds like you have the right mindset to smash it! I haven't done any inclines or hills to speak of, mainly because Essex is pretty flat! But we will get there, I have no doubt x

Hey Brixcos I live near Birmingham deep in the burbs where there are only slight inclines: even these I find challenging. But it is getting better incrementally. 2 miles this morning!

But come the spring and easing of lockdown (let's hope) we can both face slightly bigger challenges in the midst of some lovely hills.

Take care x

Great morning and to put the icing on the cake I got my first rehab appointment!😀😀😀

Invite to CardiacRehab

Great news! It is truly Springtime in all its forms...

Brixcos in reply to El-Tel1990

Great news El-Tel! Sunshine and rehab, what a combo 😊

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