Surgery can bring up all sorts of emotions from excitement to feeling a bit wary of the recovery process, but planning and preparation not only help you cope with your rollercoaster emotions but also help to ensure you have a smooth recovery process.
Regardless of what type of surgery you have planned, preparing for your recovery process before you head to surgery creates a comfortable, secure environment where you can rest and recover in peace. Whether your needs range from a post-surgery care package to patient assistance, this post explains how best to plan for recovery from plastic surgery.
Top 12 Tips for Recovery from Plastic Surgery
Recovering from plastic surgery is an important process that requires proper care and attention to ensure the best post-op results. While the recovery experience can vary depending on the type of surgery you've had, use these tips to help you during your recovery:
- Follow post-operative instructions. This advice takes the number-one spot for good reason. Always listen to your doctor. Listen carefully to your plastic surgeon's post-operative instructions and adhere to them strictly. This includes taking prescribed medications, using dressings or compression garments as directed, and following any activity restrictions. Your doctor knows best, so if you have any questions or concerns before or after surgery, get a hold of your doctor to discuss them.
- Rest and allow your body to heal. Regardless of your type of surgery, adequate rest is crucial for your body to recover. Avoid strenuous activities, exercise, and heavy lifting during the initial healing period. Your doctor will have specific timelines for you to follow based on your physical condition and the type of surgery you had. Even if you’re typically always on the move, remind yourself of how healing rest can be. After all, you rest every night to recover from your day, and after a major surgery, rest is especially important.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Eat nutritious foods that support healing and boost your immune system, and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. If you need to eat or drink anything specific—or avoid anything—your doctor will let you know with your post-op instructions for care.
- Manage pain and discomfort. It's common to experience some pain and discomfort after surgery. Take pain medication as prescribed by your surgeon to manage pain effectively. Your post-op instructions come in handy again, serving as a reference to guide you through how to manage your pain. Your doctor will also let you know what signs of pain and discomfort are a reason to give them a call during recovery. So be attentive to how you’re feeling and where you’re feeling pain and discomfort.
- Reduce swelling and bruising. Applying cold compresses or ice packs to the surgical site can help reduce swelling and bruising. This can ease some pain and discomfort as well. Be sure to follow your surgeon's guidelines on when and how to apply them. A post-surgery care package can include many items, such as ice packs, to offer you comfort during recovery.
- Keep the surgical area clean. Follow your surgeon's instructions on how to care for your incisions or wounds to prevent infection.
- Wear the right clothes. You will have tender areas around which you’ll want to wear loose-fitting clothes, but you may also need to select clothes that are easy to get on and off, depending on what kind of surgery you had. Your mobility may be limited at first, even for small things, so wear clothes that are comfortable and easily managed on your own.
- Avoid smoking and alcohol. Both smoking and alcohol consumption can interfere with the healing process. It's best to avoid them during your recovery period.
- Attend follow-up appointments. Regularly attend all follow-up appointments with your plastic surgeon so they can monitor your healing progress and address any concerns.
- Be patient and realistic. Healing takes time, and final results may not be immediately apparent. Be patient and realistic with your expectations, as it may take several weeks or months to see the full outcome of your surgery.
- Seek emotional support. Recovery can be emotionally challenging. Surround yourself with a supportive network of family and friends who can encourage and uplift you during this time.
- Protect your skin from the sun. Avoid exposing your healing scars or incisions to direct sunlight. Sunscreen and protective clothing can help prevent discoloration and scarring.
Remember, each individual's recovery process is unique, so it's essential to follow your surgeon's specific instructions for the best outcome. If you have any concerns or notice any unusual symptoms during your recovery, don't hesitate to contact your plastic surgeon immediately.
10 Tips to Prepare for Recovery
Don’t plan for surgery without also planning out your recovery process. When you get home, you will be limited in what you can do—even small tasks may be insurmountable at first. So creating a peaceful and accessible recovery environment is essential to your mental and physical well-being after surgery. These tips help you think of everything you need to make recovery as smooth as possible:
- Quit smoking and avoid alcohol. If you smoke, it's essential to quit before your surgery, as smoking can interfere with the healing process. Avoid alcohol in the days leading up to the procedure, as it can contribute to dehydration and interact with anesthesia.
- Follow pre-operative instructions. Just like your post-op instructions, following your doctor’s directions for what to do before surgery is vital to a successful surgery and recovery. Your surgeon will provide you with specific pre-operative guidelines. These may include lists of what to eat and drink as well as lists of what to avoid, including certain medications, before the surgery.
- Arrange for a support system. Plan for someone to drive you to and from the surgical facility on the day of the procedure. Additionally, arrange for someone to stay with you during the initial recovery period, as you may need assistance with daily tasks. If you need patient assistance from care specialists, you can opt for recovery professionals to manage your care.
- Schedule a point of contact each day. Whether it’s someone you live with or a friend who can only reach you by phone. Arrange for someone to contact you each day in the first couple of weeks after surgery to check in on your mental and physical well-being.
- Prepare your recovery space. Set up a comfortable recovery area at home with everything you'll need, such as pillows, blankets, and entertainment. Keep important contact numbers, including your surgeon's, within easy reach.
- Purchase necessary aftercare supplies. Depending on the procedure, your surgeon may recommend specific supplies for post-operative care, such as dressings, ice packs, ointments, or compression garments. Use a post-surgery recovery package to have these items ready in advance.
- Shop for groceries ahead of time. Make life easier on yourself by stocking your pantry well before your surgery. Make sure you have plenty of food and easy-to-prepare meals. While you may want to rely on food delivery, realize that you may not feel up to it so prepare for all scenarios by having plenty of nutritious food and snacks handy.
- Have easy-to-manage clothes on hand. Getting in and out of your clothes can be a challenge after surgery. So discuss what limitations you might have with your doctor so you can plan to have plenty of clean, comfortable clothes to wear. You won’t want to be doing laundry when you get home!
- Mentally prepare. Plastic surgery can be emotionally significant. Take time to mentally prepare yourself for the procedure and the recovery process. Ensure you have realistic expectations about the outcomes.
- Plan for time off. Depending on the type of surgery, you may need to take time off work or other activities to allow for proper healing. Even if you work from home, give yourself time to recover.
Remember that individual preparations may vary based on the specific surgery you're having, so always follow your surgeon's personalized instructions to ensure the best possible outcome. By planning ahead and selecting from a range of post-surgery care packages, you can ensure you have what you need to truly relax and recover.