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Douglas A. Taranow, DO, FACOS

New York, NY


Posted June 25, 2012 in Recovery

Many patients experience mixed emotions once they reach the decision to undergo a surgical procedure. Excitement and anticipation about obtaining your aesthetic goals will play a major role in how you feel during the time leading up to your surgery, although it isn’t uncommon to have some concerns regarding the recovery period. Knowing what to expect during the recovery phase will help ease your mind and help you to plan ahead.

Recovery times vary depending on the procedure. Simple cosmetic procedures may allow you to return to work right away, while procedures that are more extensive can take weeks. In some instances, such as rhinoplasty or a brow lift, your appearance can play a major role in dictating the amount of time you will want to remain out of the spotlight. In other cases, such as liposuction and breast augmentation, the determining factor will weigh more heavily on the way you feel and your level of discomfort. Your initial consultation visit is the best time to ask about the average recovery time for your chosen procedure. Knowing this in advance allows you to schedule adequate time away from work, social engagements, and physical activities.

Immediately after your surgery, you will receive regular attention from the recovery room nurses. These healthcare professionals will monitor your vital signs while the anesthesia wears off. Expect to have some bandages in place. Some surgeries, such as liposuction and breast augmentation, require compression garments during the healing period. Although these may feel quite tight and restrictive at first, compression garments play a vital role in your healing process because they provide immediate support to your new contour. You might need to spend one or more nights in the hospital, depending on the extent and type of your surgery. During your hospital recovery, you may be hooked to an I.V. that delivers medication while replacing fluids. The nursing staff monitors your overall health, changing bandages if necessary, and making sure your incisions remain clean and free of infection. Before leaving the hospital, you will receive instructions to follow at home. These instructions generally include information regarding the proper care of your incisions, such as when to resume regular bathing and when to change the bandages. Post-surgical instructions will also outline the amount of activity allowed, specific diet restrictions, and the date of your follow-up visit.

Don’t expect to look great right away. Plastic surgery can cause extensive bruising and swelling. Icing the area helps to reduce this temporary condition. If you have neck or facial procedures performed you can help minimize the post-surgical bruising and puffiness by keeping your head elevated for at least two or three days. This is where a recliner or plenty of pillows can come in handy. Rest is an important part of proper healing. Most surgical procedures involve a certain level of discomfort, although pain medication can help ease this soreness. If you require pain medication, you may need to refrain from driving or operating dangerous machinery for awhile – another reason to schedule adequate time for rest and relaxation. Also, when it comes to taking medication, be aware that certain herbs and supplements can interact with your prescribed drugs. Avoid taking any type of over-the-counter medicines or supplements without first obtaining your doctor’s approval. Although the scars from your surgery can seem highly visible at first, these tend to fade in time. Keeping them out of the sunlight will limit hyperpigmentation or discoloration, a common problem that tends to make scars more obvious.

When it comes to plastic surgery, knowing what to expect during the recovery phase, as well as having realistic expectations, can help ensure optimal results and a high level of satisfaction.