Minimally invasive stabilization recovery process — what to expect

For patients who undergo minimally invasive stabilization — or fusion — at Laser Spine Institute, the recovery process is typically much shorter* than what would be experienced with a traditional open spine fusion.

Yet, even though our minimally invasive fusion recovery is shorter, the experience will vary from patient to patient. After your procedure, your surgeon will give you and your Care Partner appropriate postoperative instructions based on your spine condition, the specific procedure you had performed, your overall level of health, and other factors.

As you begin your recovery after minimally invasive fusion, you will go through several stages of healing that each have different guidelines and expectations.

The initial recovery stages

At Laser Spine Institute, the minimally invasive fusion recovery process begins immediately following the procedure. You will be moved from the surgical operating room into a post-procedure care unit, where nurses monitor vital signs and address any residual symptoms, should they arise. Eventually, you will be asked to increase your activity level by walking or sitting upright in a chair before being released.

Before you are released, the surgeon or nurse will review with you and your Care Partner the postoperative recovery guidelines. This is a great opportunity to ask any questions before you leave the facility. You can always call our SPINE LINE later if you have any questions or concerns.

The first two weeks

During the first two weeks of recovery following a minimally invasive fusion procedure, you may be asked to wear a neck or back brace and perform certain low-impact exercises. Additionally, going for short walks a few times a day may also be recommended.

During this time, you should not drive, particularly while under the influence of muscle relaxers and/or pain medications. You should also avoid sexual activity, bending, lifting, twisting and staying in one position for too long.

The following weeks

Your minimally invasive fusion recovery and wound healing should be checked at your local Laser Spine Institute clinic or at your primary care physician 10 to 14 days following surgery. If the wound is completely healed, showering and bathing is permitted. In the following weeks, your recovery may involve increased walking activity, cautious sexual activity, and limited sitting and computer work. Lifting, bending and twisting should still be avoided.

In the following weeks, you should aim to walk two miles daily, as tolerated. And after two weeks, drive as long as you are no longer taking narcotic medications. While heavy lifting should still be avoided, limited bending and twisting is permitted, and an exercise regimen involving low-impact aerobics and core muscle strengthening should be incorporated.

As you continue your recovery, you are encouraged to call Laser Spine Institute’s SPINE LINE, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are available to answer any medical questions or concerns that may arise while you are getting back to your life.

To learn more

For more information about minimally invasive spine fusion and the recovery process, contact Laser Spine Institute. We are happy to provide a review of your MRI to determine your candidacy for one of our state-of-the-art outpatient procedures.