The Futile Art of Post-Op Chic

First off, let me preface this post with a reassurance that I am fine. Do not panic, do not run for the exits - remain calm. I am not sick, or dying, or having any other catastrophic kind of life event. I simply had to have an operation. It was planned. Oh, and they put that piece of tape on my nose to keep my nose stud from falling out when they anaesthetised me. Cute, yes? That with the braids, and I look like what might happen if Pippi Longstocking snorted too much coke as an experimental teen and by midlife, had let herself go.

Two weeks ago, I went in for the hysterectomy that I had been trying to put-off until I was closer to 50 (I'm 45), but it just sort of became time. It was laparoscopic, and I was in and out of the hospital in under twenty hours. Ladies, we're all (well, not all of you, but a lot of us are) middle-aged here, and let me tell you, there is no joy in the finality of having to get your uterus yanked-out of your abdomen. However, if you do find yourself in a similar situation, the single best piece of advice I can give you is to get yourself into the best physical shape you possibly can before you go in. It really makes a difference, especially if you can manage to have keyhole surgery as I did.

But this post is not meant to be a medical post. Goodness sakes, no. Where's the fun in that!? You guys know me better than that. No, this post is about that great conundrum of what in the hell you are supposed to wear when you go to the hospital, and for the time after when you are recovering at home. You'll have to forgive the haphazard iPhone snaps, but that was about all I could muster those first few days.

So what do I wear after an op?  Typical hospital stuff, right? Dressing gowns (that's British for bathrobe, my American friends), slippers, pyjamas……all of that stuff, right?  Things that won't make a sore belly more sore. The thing about that is, I hate that stuff.  I hate all of it. I really hate bathrobes, and the idea of walking around in a public building in a bathrobe….just, no. This is a viewpoint likely compounded by the fact that for a living, I am a practicing hospital-based acute care nurse practitioner, to whom going to the hospital as a patient seems tantamount to an attempt at going camping at the office. If I am going to have to go pajama camping in front of my colleagues, the least I can try to achieve is a glamping vibe.

Normally, for any surgery south of the upper abdomen, I would probably have gone for a simple, a-line shift dress that pulls-on over my head. It's loose across the abdomen, easy to put on without bending over and whatnot, and you get to wear cute real clothes.  However, when I went to my pre-op appointment the day before surgery, I was informed that I would have to wear TED compression stockings (the ones that prevent blood clots) for six weeks.

Six. Weeks.


And me without my tall boots. Even with tights on over the top of this hot mess, that was going to be a whole lot of lycra. It would be like inviting a yeast infection over for dinner and then offering it your bed for the next six weeks while you sleep in the dog bed. Besides, tights seemed like far too much squeezy-squeezy for the first few days post-op. No, that was not going to be an option, and unless I wanted to walk around in public in a shift dress with my medical stockings hanging out from underneath,  I needed a plan B, and fast. The op was the next day, it was already late afternoon, and I had to be there at 0700.

I had my husband drive like lightning to downtown Glasgow where I feverishly scoured the shops before they closed - looking for something that would work (read: not make me hate myself).  It was H&M to the rescue; I managed to put together a few pieces that were soft and easy to wear, had a bit of shape, and would conceal the TED stockings if I needed to go out somewhere while I slogged through those first few post-op days, before I could get into a decent pair of jeans again. I have to admit, the jersey jogger-style pants in particular were cuter than I had expected.

H&M Conscious Collection Slub Jersey Joggers / H&M faux wrap sweater (now unavailable online), similar / Minnetonka Two Button Bootie

It turned out well. As soon as I was allowed to, I got dressed in my "real" clothes from H&M (had to take the tags off in the shared bathroom on the ward), and was discharged a few hours later into the custody of my husband, who being the stellar guy that he is, had gotten us a really fancy-schmancy  hotel so that I could sleep it off before returning to the highlands the next day.

For the (incredibly slow) two block walk to the car, I layered this vest from H&M (mine is from last season but it's the exact same one) over it, and I actually felt like I was wearing real, albeit "sporty-casual" clothes, which came in handy when walking into the lobby of the fancy-schmancy hotel where we stayed the night. You'll forgive me the fact that I forgot to snap a picture of my outfit. I was busy.

Around the house, it was sort of a different story in those first few days. I learned a few things about which of my clothes are the most comfortable by wearing the oddest of combinations. For instance, did you know that you can totally pair flip-flops with TED compression stockings? You can.

Sexaaaaay.  I also learned that the little sweatshirt material skirt that I got at H&M a few years ago is probably the most comfortable thing in my closet. It also resulted in my husband's favourite recovery look, which I affectionately dubbed "Post-op Rollergirl."

I'm pleased to report that two weeks on, I am now able to wear "real" clothes again. I'm back to exercising, albeit only walking the route I usually run. The plank jacks, burpees, and Insanity workouts are going to have to wait another several weeks before they come back out, but slow and steady wins the race, right?

I am however harbouring one dirty little secret that I am going to share with you if you promise…promise not to tell. I may be on record in several places saying that I would never do this, but I want you all to know that I can quit doing this any time I want. I am in complete control, and I do not have a problem. 

I...have been wearing leggings.

There. I said it.



  1. Wow. So impressed you had surgery and then posted abut it! Love the choices you made for your hospital clothes. I had a hysterectomy when I was 38, in 1988, back before keyhole surgery was an option. So glad for you that your recovery period will be so much easier. And you look great in leggings ;)

    1. Oh MAN, I am ever so grateful that I was able to have keyhole surgery. And yeah…I may actually be in for another pair of leggings. I feel like I've let Tim "leggings are not pants" Gunn down.

  2. Great choices! After my hip replacement surgery in 2008, I had to wear these hip-to-ankle balloon contraptions on my legs attached to a machine that pumped air through them to compress every few seconds. It was part of a clinical trial, and probably better than having to give myself anti-coagulant shots daily in my abdomen...It was all about the sweatpants for a few weeks.

    1. Oh I got the pleasure of doing the enoxaparin shots as well for the first week. however, because the surgical area was the abdomen, I got to do the shots in my thigh, which was a bit easier - less sensitive. Golly, I remember those intermittent compressors. Such a pain, and people would unknowingly take them off in their sleep. You'd hear an alarm go off and go in to the room and the air cuff would be sitting on the bed, inflating itself in a frenzy, taking on a life of its own while the patient slept peacefully.

    2. OK, the image of that cracked me up!

  3. OMG... stockings and skirt pairing were an unexpected surprise. Still works 👍.

  4. you are hilarious, I hope all is going well

  5. Sounds like all went well and may it continue that way. Particularly love your last outfit. I've got ME and there are times where different body parts hurt and I have to dress accordingly. Leggings and tunics or long shirts are my saviours (button ups for the days where my arms hurt too much to be raised). And I really get the need to have that extra level of polish, it makes a huge mental difference (like bed is for when I'm really bad, even if I do spend most of the day on the windowseat, at least I'm 'up').

  6. Wow! Post op or not I definitely would be rocking that joggers and sweater look! Hope your recovery continues to go well!

  7. Hope your recovery goes well! I'm wear yoga pants/leggings right now, so I can't really criticize. :)

  8. Glad to see that you made it through with your sartorial sense intact! Hope all continues to go well.

  9. Lurker here to wish you all the very best with your recovery. Just the word alone makes me feel a bit nauseous (hyster *retch* tomy). The flip flops-and-tracksuit bottoms look is my favourite.
    PS you're one of the main reasons I am now in my fifth month of grey/white/TBC hair. Thanks!

  10. Greetings from Australia Kristin. I have been a long time follower of your blog (love your writing style and sense of humour). As an acute care nurse, I would greatly appreciate your advice regarding the compression stockings. Five days ago, my 19 year old son had a tissue expander inserted into his upper left thigh. He has a vascular haemagenoma that needs to be removed. What are the purpose of compression stockings and would they be beneficial for him. His care staff have not mentioned anything about them to us. We are seeing his specialist on Thursday. He is not allowed to put any weight on his left leg and is on crutches (and will be for about 8 weeks). Thanking you in advance and wishing you all the best with your recovery.

    1. Hi Sel, really the stockings are first and foremost to prevent blood clots. While it's hard for me to comment on this not knowing your case, all anti-coagulation (blood thinning) protocols follow a risk-assessment. Your son would likely score as a very low risk due to the fact that he is young. If he is otherwise healthy, not overweight, not a smoker, doesn't have an active infection or cancer, and his surgery will be minimal invasive, he likely scores low enough to not need anything or perhaps only need it on the day of his procedure. Most of the time, for more invasive procedures, a patient might get an injection of a drug called enoxaparin. thing is, your son's surgery is vascular and any blood thinning things increase the likelihood of bleeding, so they are careful with this stuff. My surgery, despite the fact that it was keyhole and I'm doing quite well, was quite a major deal…an entire organ removed, so the risk is greater. Just check with whomever will be doing the procedure to more appropriately answer your question on this. this is built-in to the surgical protocols in ALL developed countries, so if he needs something, hell get it. :) K

    2. Kristin, thank you so much for your reply and advice and I wish you all the best with your recovery and health. Sel
      PS you have the most beautiful grey hair and were my inspiration for going grey.

  11. Hey Kristin, I saw this a while ago and got distracted then forgot to comment. I've seen a more recent post today and am pleased to see that your recovery is going well. I can see why your other half got a bit excited about your Brittany look as it's so cute! But excuse me for giving a huge belly laugh at you in leggings! Your ranting and railing about these dreadful non-clothing items has surely come home to roost Kristen. I love that you were honest enough to give us a peek at the fashion faux pas. And if it's any consolation, your very toned thighs are the only kind of thighs that ought to be encased in lycra - you're rocking these girl!
    Thanks for a great post, and good luck with the rest of your recovery. Am off to catch up on the latest post. Love ya!
    Anna x

  12. Kristin
    I was thinking about you today as I looked through my blog's linkup wondering where you might be! I had to pop by and see how things were faring. I didn't know I would be reading about hospital garb and your operation! Hope you feel better now.. I cant get a hysterectomy with EDS, being its a connective tissue disease it could be bad. You are so fun! Loving the leg support hose with the flops! My dad had to wear them every day to prevent clotting, if only he had known about the flip flops! Enjoyed the post , your gym attire, and sense of humour! and the glasses.. those are awesome!
    jess xx
    Stop by for Turning heads tuesday tomorrow, love to see you!


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