Undergoing cosmetic surgery is an exciting, “milestone” procedure for most patients, as it results in improved self-esteem and appearance. Understandably, many patients want to accelerate their recovery process so they can enjoy these changes and returning to their normal daily activities and habits sooner.
Every patient and procedure is different, so many variables can affect how much recovery time you can expect to need after going through one or more surgical procedures. However, the good news is that you can significantly impact your recovery process by carefully following all your surgical team’s post-operative instructions. At Richmond Surgical Arts, we will tailor the recovery process to your individual needs depending on your overall health and the type of procedure you are getting, as well as your reaction to the surgery.
Here are top plastic surgery recovery tips that every cosmetic surgery patient can follow to help speed recovery after undergoing a procedure.
- Don’t try to “tough it out.”
Pain, bruising and swelling are all part of your body’s natural recovery process, and they are a normal component of the post-surgery experience. Many patients attempt to push through or ignore the pain, but it is important to take any painkillers you are prescribed. Don’t let the pain catch up to you; you’ll only be doing yourself a disservice by lengthening your recovery time.
Additionally, be sure to avoid over-the-counter pain medications or herbal remedies, which can not only thin the blood, but may also interfere with prescription medications. When taking prescription pain pills, be aware that a common side effect of these drugs is constipation. It’s important to drink lots of fluids and move around frequently to counteract this.
- Move around.
In the first 48 hours or so after your surgery, you’ll need plenty of rest; however, don’t confuse the directive to take it easy as an instruction that you should just stay in bed all day. Moving helps your body heal, and may also reduce pain levels.
You may not feel like walking five miles, but be sure to get up once in awhile to keep your blood flowing. Even walking around your house for a few minutes, or a few minutes of gentle stretching movement, is better than doing nothing at all. Consider setting a timer to remind yourself to get up and move around every hour.
- Skip the gym.
Yes, we know this instruction may seem counterintuitive, since we just talked about the benefits of moving around. However, strenuous exercise, such as running or weightlifting, can be a setback to your recovery process. Many cosmetic patients are anxious to return to their normal workout routines, but to speed recovery times, it is important to avoid challenging exercise for several weeks after surgery.
Working out elevates the blood pressure, which can increase bruising, bleeding and inflammation. Patients who engage in vigorous workout regimens too soon after surgery can experience serious complications, such as re-opening of incisions. Even if you think you’re ready to return to the gym, consult with your surgeon before resuming your pre-surgery levels of activity.
- Have realistic expectations.
Keep in mind that your recovery process is just that – a process. After surgery of any kind, you’re going to look and feel worse before you get better. Just about all types of cosmetic surgery procedures involve bruising and swelling. You won’t be able to see the full effect of your results for a few days, or longer. Don’t panic, as stress can interfere with your body’s natural healing time.
Depending on what procedure(s) you have chosen to get, your recovery time could range from a few days to a few weeks. Plan accordingly for how your post-surgical downtime will affect your work, family responsibilities and social schedule. Also, arrange for a family member or friend to take care of you for the initial 48 to 72 hours after surgery. Even though you may believe you can resume your normal routines right away, having someone there to help you will bring peace of mind and allow you to focus on your healing. If you do not have someone to take care of your post-operative needs, ask about our post-operative nursing care service.
- Don’t smoke.
As a general rule, patients who smoke should quit at least eight weeks before undergoing a cosmetic surgery procedure. Once the surgery is over, that doesn’t mean you should pick up the habit again. Because of how it affects your circulation, smoking significantly delays the healing process, and can lead to serious complications during recovery.
- Apply ice packs or compression garments if instructed to do so.
If you undergo any type of facial surgery, including a facelift, eyelid lift or nose job, it’s important to apply ice to minimize swelling. Even if you have bandages covering the surgery area, you may need to periodically ice it down.
Some surgical procedures, such as a tummy tuck, liposuction, breast augmentation or breast lift, may require you to wear a compression garment for several weeks. Don’t overlook the importance of these garments in helping your body control swelling and bruising. They also help with body contouring by preventing wrinkling of the skin and enhancing skin retraction. The pressure from the compression garments may make scars softer, flatter and less visible, as well.
Every Patient Needs Different Care
Keep in mind that the recovery process following plastic surgery differs from patient to patient, and just as importantly, the type and number of procedures you choose to undergo.
Whether it’s taking prescribed medication at certain times, when it’s safe for you to pick up your regular exercise regimen, or how to care for your surgical incisions to minimize scarring, your surgical team can provide the best advice for a safe and healthy recovery. Follow all the above mentioned Plastic surgery recovery tips to reduce your recovery time..
Be aware that every plastic surgery recovery process has both physical and emotional components. As any surgeon will tell you, it is important to not rush the recovery process, as allowing your body to properly heal will lead to much more rewarding results.