Tips for Recovering after Cosmetic Surgery
Updated: Jan 15, 2020
It might surprise you to learn that recovering from cosmetic surgery is not only physical but emotional as well. Physically, you can expect some down-time, some pain or discomfort, and bruising and swelling. It's common to feel a wide spectrum of emotions (positive and negative) before and after a cosmetic surgery procedure. Many people have cosmetic surgery to address an issue they've suffered with for a long time and the emotional impact can be enormous. During the recovery period, it is crucial to understand your emotions and learn the best way to deal with them.
It's quite common to experience post-op blues. Many patients have thoughts of regret or doubt. It's important to understand why these thoughts are coming up and know that they will pass. The consensus for cosmetic surgery is the procedure and healing time was worth it. 98% of those who've had breast augmentation are satisfied with the results. Similarly, 95% of those with a facelift report the procedure was worth it. When negative emotions surface, keep focused on the reasons for the surgery.
Recovering from a cosmetic procedure can mean you are in for a few days (up to two weeks) of bed rest. Depending on the procedure, you may need assistance with basic tasks which can lead to feeling helpless or useless. Restlessness and boredom are common during this period of minimal activity. Another reason you might feel down after cosmetic surgery is that general anesthesia can have residual effects such as lethargy, depression, and bouts of weepiness and despair.
The final results of your cosmetic procedure may not be visible immediately. While not all procedures have long healing times, it does take a few weeks or months to see the outcome. For example, it can take up to a year to see the results of a rhinoplasty. During the first few days of recovery, you can expect to see swelling, bruising and visible stitches in the surgical area. You may start to wonder what you'll look like once the swelling drops and when the incisions heal or what you can do to help the scar heal better. It's imperative to follow the surgeon's directions to minimize scarring. It's also helpful to look at the before pictures to see how far you've come.
Here are a few other things you can do to set yourself up for success during the recovery.
1. Set up a Support System
First, you'll need someone to take you to and from your procedure. Over the first few days of surgery, you'll need assistance and it's necessary to have a caretaker (whether it's a close friend, relative, spouse, or nurse). A support system of people who can assist you with cooking, cleaning and other tasks is necessary as surgeons recommend limiting the amount of activity. It's also good to have someone to lean on emotionally!
2. Take Time Off Work
While some procedures may be labelled as having a quick recovery, you'll want to take off a week or two to heal. The time off needed depends on the procedure and on how each person heals.
3. Stay Hydrated
Hydration is the key to healing well. Drinking six to eight glasses of water daily will help rejuvenate your skin and flush toxins from your system. To help minimize swelling, you may wish to use ice packs and sleep with your head elevated.
4. Eat Well
To help speed up the healing process, you must eat a nutritious, high-calorie diet. Some surgeries limit mobility and activity, so it's best to stock up on healthy foods before the procedure. In addition to your diet, your surgeon may also ask you to modify lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking. Most board-certified cosmetic surgeons require patients to quit smoking tobacco for at least a few weeks before and after surgery. Nicotine greatly impacts your body’s ability to heal, resulting in prolonged recovery times and, potentially, complications that can lead to pain, bleeding, and more visible scarring. Alcohol consumption should be avoided for three weeks after your surgery.
5. Avoid Exercise and Overexertion
Be sure to get clearance from the surgeon before any starting any exercise. Post-plastic surgery recovery involves healing from sutures and incisions and excessive exercise can cause damage to wounds that are still healing.
Lastly, to help you prepare for your recovery period, here is a breakdown of the recovery time for common cosmetic surgery procedures. Please note, this does not include the time for complete healing and for the final results to show.