Perhaps you’ve done the research and have chosen a plastic surgeon that fits your needs. That’s a huge first step! Although a plastic surgeon will do their best to give you the change you desire, surgery is not a one-and-done event. The recovery process that follows can be slow and requires patience and cooperation. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to feel more in control of your own recovery. By following these 6 quick tips, you will be less likely to encounter complications and be well on your way to a faster recovery.

1. Educate Yourself on What to Expect After the Procedure

Since you will likely be recovering from the surgery at home, it is important for you to follow your doctor’s instructions and be aware of any potential post-procedural complications that may arise. While it may be frightening to not have a doctor with you, it doesn’t have to be. Knowing what to expect after surgery can give you more control over your recovery process. For instance, your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics to prevent infections and medications to reduce pain. It is important to take all necessary medications as prescribed by your doctor, as forgetting to take these can increase the risk for complications¹. Talk to your doctor about the anticipated length of the recovery process so you maintain realistic expectations for yourself². Lastly, you should discuss how to keep a balanced diet, as maintaining a healthy weight enhances recovery².

2. Stop Smoking and Alcohol Consumption

Smoking can predispose you to complications that interfere with wound healing¹. Similarly, excessive drinking is linked with infections of the surgical site¹. Avoiding smoking and alcohol at least a month before surgery and throughout recovery can prevent any delays in recovery. In fact, quitting smoking 3 to 4 weeks before surgery has been shown to result in positive outcomes that are similar to those who have never smoked at all¹.  

3.  Educate Yourself on Post-Procedural Dietary Recommendations

Although you may experience nausea post-surgery (and eating may be the last thing you feel like doing), eating even a light meal within 24 hours following surgery can promote a faster recovery (please follow your doctor’s instructions on when you can begin eating after your procedure and what dietary restrictions you may have). Studies have shown that eating soon after surgery has been associated with reduced risk of infection, improved wound healing, and a shorter hospital stay¹. Furthermore, be sure to talk to your doctor about how to keep a balanced diet, as maintaining a healthy weight enhances recovery².

4. Get Moving

Similar to eating, getting your body moving as soon as possible is essential for a faster recovery. Increasing mobility within the first 24 hours after surgery leads to better muscle strength and decreases your risk for blood clots and other post-surgical complications, such as pneumonia¹. Additionally, moving around promotes better circulation throughout the body which can help improve wound healing and helps reduce the risk of post-procedural gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation. 

5. Be Patient

It is important to be patient with yourself. Don’t try to cut corners or overdo it because you want your recovery to go faster. Doing these things could interfere with your recovery process. Initially, you may not see the results you wanted. In fact, it may take weeks or months to see results. Doctors find that individuals who have realistic expectations for after surgery are more likely to be happy with their results, so make sure to be patient and allow your body to heal³. 

6. Get Additional Support and Care

Finally, support from your family and friends can be a great help in your recovery process. The first day of discharge from the surgery can be disorienting and it is not advisable to do everything by yourself. Many patients who don’t have family and friends nearby or available often get a caregiver during the first week. Local home care agencies or a caregiver platform such as CareLinx can be a good resource to start. 


References
1. Temple-Oberle C, Shea-Budgell MA, Tan M, et al. Consensus Review of Optimal Perioperative Care in Breast Reconstruction: Enhanced Recovery after Surgery (ERAS) Society Recommendations. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2017;139(5):1056e-1071e. doi:10.1097/PRS.0000000000003242
2. Bartlett EL, Zavlin D, Friedman JD, Abdollahi A, Rappaport NH. Enhanced Recovery After Surgery: The Plastic Surgery Paradigm Shift. Aesthet Surg J. 2018;38(6):676-685. doi:10.1093/asj/sjx217
3. Furnas, H. Having plastic surgery? Here’s how to prepare for a smooth recovery. American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. April 23, 2019. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://guides.himmelfarb.gwu.edu/AMA/websites
Posted 
October 13, 2021
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