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Recovery After Plastic Surgery



Any surgical procedure is going to require some period of post-operative recovery. Elective aesthetic and suggested reconstructive plastic surgical procedures are no different. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a surgery. Whether it’s something that you want for your own enhancement or something you need to overcome another condition, plastic surgery can be transformative in a good way. The process required to achieve the goals of an operation can extend before and after the surgery. We believe that it is important to set realistic expectations for recovery before surgery so patients can best prepare for their journey to their best result. This need not be complicated…in fact, it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3:

  • Stage 1: Preoperative Preparation, 6 weeks prior to surgery; This is the time to prepare your body for its best potential to recovery from the procedure. A surgery is a controlled traumatic event for the body, which may be overcome more readily if the body goes into that experience in the best state possible. This means good nutrition, hydration, no smoking or use of other forms of nicotine, and a stable healthy weight. It is important that preoperative planning steps are undertaken, including picking up postoperative prescription medications, obtaining screening tests like mammograms, obtaining preoperative laboratory tests as indicated, and avoiding significant amount of alcohol or any other mind altering medications (sleep aids, marijuana, etc…) at least 48 hours prior to (and after) the procedure. A good night’s sleep the night before will also make it more likely you will rebound that much faster after surgery.
  • Stage 2: Early Postoperative Period, 2-3 weeks after surgery; The immediate post-operative period is a time for rest, low-intensity activities, and avoidance of any behaviors that could derail a good surgical outcome. We tell our patients not to engage in any activity that involves grimacing, grunting, straining, or sweating for at least two weeks and not to submerge wounds under water in a bath, pool, or other body of water for that time as well. There are special activity restrictions specific to each procedure, such as bending at the waist for a tummy tuck, not sitting for prolonged periods of time for a Brazilian butt lift (BBL), and not doing overhead movements or chest-specific exercises for breast procedures. Patients may shower two days after their procedure and should follow whatever dressing instructions they receive, which usually includes removing any bandages at 48 hours but leaving steri-strips or skin glue alone to fall off on its own (which usually takes about 2 weeks). If you have a “Jackson-Pratt,” or “JP,” drain in place, then you need to strip the drain, empty it, and place it back to suction, recoding the output of each drain over 24 hours to determine when it can be removed during follow-up. Nutrition is especially important if you have had a larger body contouring surgery, such as a breast reduction or tummy tuck, and two to three protein supplement drinks are encouraged each day. Hydration and continued avoidance of nicotine are also of paramount importance.
  • Stage 3: Late Postoperative Period, 4-6 weeks after surgery; The later post-operative recovery period is the time to get back to your baseline in a gradual and judicious manner. We like to suggest that patients set a goal to do whatever they wound consider physically challenging before their operative at about a month after their procedure, slowly increasing the duration or intensity of exercises each day slowly and steadily. This is also the time to practice good scar care with the avoidance of sun exposure, massage, and application of scar ointments. A silicone-based scar ointment is best, and we can provide one of the best during your follow-up. For a more proactive approach, lymphatic or deep tissue massage can be employed from specialized centers. This is also the time to maximize your results by practicing good routine healthy diet and exercise practices.

If you would like to learn more about the process of recovery after surgery, reach out to us at Pacific Sound Plastic Surgery by emailing Info@PacificSoundPlasticSurgery.com or by calling 425-818-8991 to schedule a consultation. Dr. Day has extensive experience guiding patients through their journey to personal enhancement!

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