By Sacha Obaid
Whether you’ve chosen a minor procedure or one that’s more extensive, the number-one piece of advice surgeons stress to their patients after their procedures is: Let your body heal properly!
For plastic surgery after-care, your surgeon will arm you with a list of dos and don’ts. Following them carefully will not only prevent complications and help you heal properly, it will also help you get the best results!
While everyone’s plastic surgery experience is different, and healing times vary, the following are what any surgeon will recommend:
Take some downtime.
Depending on the extent of your surgery, healing times can vary from a week to several weeks. When a period of reduced activity and rest is recommended, you’re helping your body begin its natural healing process by minimizing swelling and avoiding the chance of damage to the operative site.
But don’t become a couch potato!
While resting the first 24 to 48 hours is a must, walking around and staying active thereafter (as your surgeon recommends) is just as important. Moving helps prevent blood clots and helps you heal faster.
One side effect of many of the pain medications doctors prescribe is constipation. Staying active will also help to regulate your digestive system.
Manage your pain.
Take your prescribed pain medication as needed. This is not the time to be stoic and follow the “no pain, no gain” mantra. When you suffer through pain, it’s not only uncomfortable, it can also raise your blood pressure, which can lead to more bruising and other complications.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Drink plenty of fluids, and maintain a healthy diet of lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables. Your body needs the nutrients from food to repair itself. Water is a must not only after surgery but every day, as it helps the body heal, flushes toxins, and is vital for the functions of your skin.
Baby your skin.
Speaking of skin, following surgery, treat the site of your procedure and the surrounding skin as if it were a baby’s. Keep your hands away from your surgical sight, except when directed to clean the area. Touching it can introduce infection and interfere with healing.
When given the go-ahead to wash the site, make sure to use mild, hypoallergenic products, like non-soap cleansers and fragrance-free moisturizers.
Stay out of the sun, and when you do venture out, always protect your skin with high SPF to block both damaging UVA and UVB sun rays.
Pay attention to your emotional well-being.
While research and speaking with your surgeon beforehand can help you prepare for the physical effects of surgery, sometimes they can cause unexpected emotions, and everyone’s emotions are affected differently.
Some of the common feelings patients experience range from excitement to frustration that they don’t feel the way they want to right away, questioning if they made the right decision, and even guilt for having to rely on a loved one to help them recover.
It’s important to know that all of these feelings are normal. Remind yourself that many other people feel the same way you do and to keep moving forward with your recovery. The day will come—in the very near future—when you’re fully healed and can enjoy your new-and-improved life!