August 18, 2019
Dr. Anu Bajaj, M.D.

How to Have a Healthy Recovery After Plastic Surgery

 

woman smiling in a yoga pose

For each patient, recovery after surgery is different and truly requires patience. But there is one thing in common — everyone has a recovery journey. Naturally, all of us want the shortest, easiest recovery time that is possible. However, in order to have a positive recovery experience, you have to take care of yourself after surgery for the best results, and sometimes patience is key.

We’re here to share our advice on the recovery journey, and how, together, we can make recovery easier both physically and emotionally.

Preparing for Surgery

What you do before the surgery will affect your recovery as well as what you do after surgery. In the excitement of the scheduling surgery, we may forget to adequately prepare both physically and mentally for the upcoming procedure. Here are some helpful suggestions to help you prepare.

Preparing Mentally

It is common to feel both excitement and apprehension before your upcoming procedure. Your positive mental attitude will truly impact your recovery. Expect that as your surgery date gets closer, you’re going to have more questions that come up. Write them down as you think of them, so you don’t forget to ask Dr. Bajaj or her staff so you can feel confident and ready for your procedure.

Once you’ve made your decision to have surgery and are comfortable with your choice of surgeon, don’t go second-guessing yourself. If you have a concern, ask Dr. Bajaj, not Dr. Google. Now is not the time to torture yourself by searching online for bad plastic surgery outcomes.

Line-Up Your Support Team

Most women are very independent—let’s face it, we’re used to caring for and supporting others. But surgery and its recovery are something that you cannot do alone. The amount of help you’ll need really depends on your situation and what procedures you are having. At the bare minimum, you’ll need someone to drive you to and from your surgery, stay with you for the first 24-48 hours after surgery, and drive you to your first follow-up appointment. And ask a positive person to be your caregiver—You know who they are, the people in your life who always lift your spirits.

Preparing Physically

Sometimes, in the rush of making sure everyone is taken care of, we may forget to take care of ourselves—this means eating healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Your body needs protein, iron, nutrients and yes, even fat, to heal properly. It is critical that you enter the surgical process with good nutrition so that your body can better withstand the stress of the upcoming surgery. We also recommend taking a daily multi-vitamin and drinking plenty of water. These steps provide all the necessary building blocks your body needs for recovery.

Preparing for After Surgery

Follow Your Surgeon’s Postoperative Instructions Carefully

To get right to it—post-op instructions aren’t just a guideline; they are provided so that you can have as smooth a recovery as possible. Be sure to follow your plastic surgeon’s instructions for aftercare. Taking appropriate downtime after your procedure is essential to avoiding complications and ensuring you get your desired results.

Care for Your Incisions Properly

Proper care for your incision can keep you on a steady track to a fast and easy recovery. Directly after surgery, you’ll have aftercare instructions for your incisions. It’s important you follow these properly because you actually can “over clean” your incision, leading to longer recovery times. For example, don’t use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to clean your incision because they can impair wound healing.

We commonly recommend a gentle wash with soap and water. When your incision is ready, Dr. Bajaj will give you instructions on using a post-operative scar cream or paper tape. Let your body take care of the rest.

Take Care of Your Skin After Surgery

We also like to emphasize how taking care of your skin is important for recovery. We urge our patients to keep incisions covered and away from direct sunlight. Fresh scars are sensitive to sunlight —more so UV rays — and can burn. This can also cause hyperpigmentation causing the scar to turn brown.

You also need to maintain healthy habits for a smooth recovery. This includes no tobacco use before or after surgery. Tobacco smoke and nicotine contribute to decreased blood flow, impaired wound healing, and reduced skin flap survival.

a couple holding hands hiking

Physical Activity After Surgery Guidelines

One surgical myth is that most patients assume they have to be on bed rest for the first couple of days after surgery. Staying in bed and not moving after surgery may hinder your recovery and predispose you to develop complications. We encourage our patients to take slow, short walks throughout the day immediately following surgery. Walking will help to prevent blood clots which can form in your legs (knows as DVT or deep venous thrombosis.

Moving around keeps your body in balance while you’re healing. As you continue to recover, you will gradually be able to increase your activity level in the weeks following surgery. We have more information about lifting weights and doing pushups after breast surgery if you would like to learn more.

Prepare for Emotions After Surgery

While it’s important to take care of your body physically after surgery, it’s just as important to take care of your body emotionally. Emotions play a huge role in recovering from plastic surgery, as it’s a big decision for most people and it affects many aspects of your life.

To put things into perspective, think of the emotional journey you are undergoing while you’re healing and seeing bandages, swelling, and bruising. Also consider how your body recovers in stages, and how the end result takes time.

Prepare yourself mentally and have a strong support system for when you are out of surgery. This will make your recovery story a positive one.

Words of Encouragement from Our Patients

We take the time to have several pre- and post-procedure appointments to guide you through the entire recovery process and answer any questions you may have. However, sometimes patients that have been through the experience can say it best.

Here are some words of encouragement from our patients on how their procedure and recovery went.

Thank you so much for taking such wonderful care of me before and after my surgery. I really appreciated everyone’s gentleness, professionalism, and friendliness. I couldn’t have asked for better surgical, office, and follow-up experiences. Thanks again for doing all do every day! – C.R.

Dr. Bajaj is the best. There was no pain after surgery and here I am two months after surgery, and my healing and progress went exactly as she said it would. Her care team is also amazing. Anytime I’ve called and had them leave a message (which is rare) it’s returned within 30-45min and her nurse makes you feel so comfortable and at ease. Your care is truly No. 1 to this team. She did such an amazing job my mom is considering the same surgery and will be going to her. Any plastic surgery needs I have, I will return to here. – A.W.

I began my breast reduction journey with Dr. Bajaj and her staff. I could not have picked a better surgeon! The entire staff was so friendly and informative about the surgery and aftercare that would be needed. In May, I finally had the surgery done. LIFE CHANGING! I’m 6 weeks post-surgery and I feel amazing! Anytime I’ve had questions, Bry and Ryleigh have more than happy to answer them and put my fears to rest. I highly recommend Dr. Bajaj and her staff for any plastic surgery needs you might have! – K.L.

Recovery Takes Patience

Recovering from surgery doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. We want to work with you to take the time and energy to follow proper healing instructions and have a positive post-operation experience.

Your body is a miraculous thing, and if you provide it with the best care and patients during recovery, you’ll be on the right path to a smooth recovery and be able to return to your normal routine in no time.

For more information about our services or how we approach recovery after plastic surgery, please don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation. We’d love to speak with you.