Whether you have scheduled your plastic surgery procedure or you are still in the consultation phase, it’s never too early to plan for the recovery period. Sticking to the right habits — and avoiding the wrong ones — will affect both the length and intensity of your recovery. Dr. Samuel Pearl and Dr. Alexander Ereso have compiled some helpful advice on what to do and what not to do while recovering from surgery.
If you’re a smoker, Dr. Pearl recommends that you quit smoking at least two weeks before and two weeks after your surgery. Nicotine has an adverse effect on the body, especially after surgery because it constricts blood vessels and prevents blood flow, which may cause problems with blood clots and prevent wounds from healing adequately. In severe cases, the effect of nicotine could cause necrosis, or tissue death, which can lead to skin loss.
Not Getting Enough Rest
Your body, including your immune system, needs to be operating at its optimal level so that you can heal and recover properly. If you try to rush the recovery period by not getting enough sleep or rest, it may lead to infection of the incision sites and even more serious complications. You should plan for someone to stay with you for at least the first 48 hours so that you can have an uninterrupted period of sleep and rest. After that, and depending on which procedure you have done, a period of at least a week (and more time for procedures like tummy tuck and liposuction) without work and exercise should be planned in order for you to recuperate fully.
Hitting the Gym Too Soon
Exercising too soon after having surgery could cause a number of problems, including opened incisions and risk of bleeding. Elevating your heart rate and blood pressure with aerobic exercise and lifting weight can have these effects on the body if they are resumed too quickly. Talk to your doctor about how long you should wait before resuming both light and more rigorous exercise. With some procedures, like tummy tuck surgery, you may have to wait six to eight weeks, whereas with other procedures like facelift surgery, patients can often return to exercise after two weeks.
Failing to Follow Up with Your Doctor
It is important that you return to your doctor within the first week after surgery so that they can exam you and see that your body is healing properly. During your consultation with Dr. Pearl or Dr. Ereso, they can map out a schedule for both your procedure and your follow-up appointments. Skipping these follow-up appointments is not advised, because if there are complications from surgery, they should be taken care of right away. If at any point during your recovery you have an unusual amount of pain, swelling or other effects, you should call your doctor immediately.
Not Protecting Your Skin
While it’s a good habit to get into anyway, wearing sunscreen — even on overcast days —is particularly helpful to the healing of your incision areas after plastic surgery. A sunblock with an SPF of at least 30 should be used, especially on exposed incisions, when you plan on being outdoors. Sun exposure can hinder the healing process and change the pigmentation of the skin on your incisions so that scars may become permanently darker in appearance.
Do you have more questions about the recovery period for a specific plastic surgery procedure? Learn more recovery tips in a private consultation with Dr. Pearl or Dr. Ereso. Schedule one today by calling Pearl Plastic Surgery Center at (650) 964-6600.