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Diet after HIPEC surgery

While medical advancements continue developing new treatments for cancer, life after treatment remains an essential part of the healing journey. As a patient who has undergone HIPEC surgery to treat peritoneal carcinomatosis, you’ve experienced a challenging yet promising procedure that aims to eliminate all detectable cancer at its source.

In the weeks and months following surgery, your diet plays an important supporting role in your ongoing recovery. The food choices you make each day can nourish your body as it continues repairing from the physical stresses of major abdominal surgery and maintains its defences against future recurrence.

This guide focuses on the nutritional considerations and evidence-based recommendations aligned with returning your digestive system and overall health to its strongest state possible after HIPEC. By understanding how different foods may impact your wellness at this stage, I hope that patients find encouragement and empowerment in making dietary selections that best serve their personal recovery goals.


Focus on nutrition for healing

Balanced nutrition is fundamental to rapid healing post-HIPEC surgery. Nutrition provides the necessary fuel for your body to repair damaged tissue, enhance immune functioning, and replenish energy stores that have been depleted during your recovery process. A balanced diet is one that provides all necessary macronutrients – proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, and micronutrients – vitamins and minerals in the right proportions.

Proteins are the building blocks of our cells, tissues and organs, and play a key role in repairing surgical wounds and maintaining muscle tissue. They also contribute to the production of immune cells, vital in defending against potential infections post-surgery.

Carbohydrates serve as the primary source of energy for all bodily functions and processes, including the healing process. They maintain the integrity of your gastrointestinal tract and prevent muscle tissue from being used as an energy source.

Fats, specifically Omega-3 fatty acids, have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce inflammation post-surgery, aiding faster recovery. They also serve as a secondary energy source and are vital for absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

Micronutrients, vitamins and minerals, though required in smaller amounts, are critical for healing and recovery. They perform various functions like fighting off infections (Vitamin C), aiding in wound healing (Vitamin A and Zinc), and preventing anemia (Iron) which can delay recovery.

All these elements work together to ensure that the body can recover as quickly and completely as possible. Therefore, maintaining a balanced diet after HIPEC surgery is of paramount importance.

Listen to your body

It’s advisable to consume small, frequent meals rather than three large ones. This approach can aid digestion, reduce the strain on your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and potentially alleviate post-surgical discomfort.

After HIPEC surgery, the GI tract often needs time to heal and readjust, and smaller meals are typically easier and less painful to digest. It’s not merely about what you eat, but also how you eat that contributes to your post-operative recovery and overall wellbeing. 

Listen to your body, and don’t push it beyond its limits. If you feel full or discomfort after eating a certain food or portion size, then stop or reduce that particular food/amount.


Stay Hydrated

Hydration is a critical aspect of recovery, especially after an intense surgical procedure like HIPEC. Drinking plenty of water not only helps restore body fluids lost during surgery but also supports digestion by helping break down food and absorb nutrients more effectively. It can aid in preventing constipation, a common post-surgical side effect.

Alongside water, consider incorporating electrolyte-enriched beverages into your diet. These replenish essential salts and minerals lost due to sweating or medication, thereby maintaining a balanced internal environment. It’s not just about consuming fluids, but ensuring they are beneficial and contribute to your overall recovery and well-being.

Minimize Fibre Intake

In the initial stages following HIPEC surgery, it’s recommended to limit your intake of high-fibre foods. Substances high in fibre can lead to bloating and cause complications such as bowel obstruction during the healing process. Gradually reintroducing fibrous foods into your diet as your tolerance improves is a pragmatic approach.

Begin with easily digestible options such as peeled fruits and cooked vegetables. Doing so allows your body to adjust gradually, minimizing the risk of post-surgical complications. Remember, the key is not to rush the process but to give your digestive system the time it needs to recover effectively.

Avoid Irritants

It’s crucial to steer clear of foods that could potentially irritate your digestive tract during the recovery period. This includes spicy, greasy, and acidic foods. Such foods can trigger irritation in your stomach lining and exacerbate digestive discomfort, thus impeding your recovery progress.

Ensuring your diet primarily consists of bland, easily digestible foods will aid in maintaining a smooth and efficient recovery process. While everyone’s tolerance varies, it’s important to listen to your body and adjust your diet accordingly to avoid any unnecessary discomfort or setbacks in your recovery.

Follow Dietary Recommendations

Post-surgery, it’s essential to adhere strictly to any dietary recommendations provided by your healthcare team. These are designed keeping in mind your individual condition, recovery needs, and any potential risks associated with certain food types during the healing process.

Temporary restrictions might be placed on certain foods, and while it can be challenging, it’s important to remember that this is for your overall well-being and the success of your recovery.

Keeping open communication with your care team can help you understand these dietary guidelines better, and they can assist you in planning meals that are both safe and nutritious. Remember, an informed and careful approach to your diet contributes significantly to a smoother and more comfortable recovery.

Be Mindful of Diet Restrictions

Adherence to dietary restrictions post-surgery is not only advisable but also crucial for your recovery. Your dietician may advise you to avoid certain types of foods temporarily. This might seem challenging, especially if these include your favourites, but it’s important to remember that these recommendations are made with your best interest in mind.

Your nutritionist understands your current health condition and knows to design a diet that aids your recovery and minimises any potential risks. Open dialogue with your care team will enable you to gain a clearer understanding of these guidelines.

Being mindful of these restrictions and incorporating them into your day-to-day meal planning will play a pivotal role in ensuring a comfortable and efficient recovery.

Must Read: Life expectancy after HIPEC surgery

When to Contact Your Doctor?

Certain symptoms or conditions necessitate immediate contact with your doctor. These include persistent or worsening pain, development of a fever, unexpected swelling or inflammation at the surgery site, and any signs of confusion or difficulty breathing.

You should also notify your doctor if you’re unable to tolerate the prescribed diet, or if you experience sustained loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting. Remember, your doctor’s primary concern is your well-being; do not hesitate to reach out if you have any concerns about your recovery.

Also read-  Is HIPEC Surgery Painful?

Reach Out To Us

Your health is our top priority, and we strive to ensure your smooth and efficient recovery. If you have any questions or concerns about your recovery process, dietary advice, or any symptoms you’re experiencing, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Our dedicated team of specialists is always ready to assist and guide you towards improved health. Please remember, that your well-being is our utmost concern. Reach out to us today, and let us support your journey towards a robust recovery.



    About Author
    Dr. Praveen Kammar

    Surgical Oncologist


    Years Of Experience

    Dr. Praveen Kammar is a Best Surgical Oncologist in Mumbai. His main area of expertise aslso includes GI oncology, Gynecological cancers, minimal access surgeries, Robotics surgery, Laparoscopic Surgery, HIPEC.

    Dr. Praveen has done more than 6000+ surgeries in his expertise.

    More About Doctor


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