What is the recovery from plastic surgery like?
Will I be able to tolerate the pain post-operatively? Each patient will tolerate pain post-operatively in a different way, and we consider this. While some patients may describe the pain as an ache, others experience greater discomfort. Appropriate pain medications are prescribed for the post-operative patients, and these help minimize discomfort. Recovery is different for each patient and this is just a generalized guide for what is usual and customary for each patient. Most facial cosmetic operations have minimal discomfort post-operatively. Liposuction is slightly more uncomfortable, and operations that require elevation or tightening of the muscles — such as an abdominoplasty or breast augmentation have discomfort equal to that of a C-section.
How long is the recuperative period and when can I return to work?
The length of time it takes to recuperate after plastic surgery varies depending on the procedure performed and the person operated on. Most patients will require assistance for the first two days. Then most patients are able to care for themselves, but may still need assistance if they have small children to care for. The specific lengths of disability are outlined below by procedure. These are approximations, and do not include return to exercise.
Eyelid Surgery – Usually can get around independently by the second day. With the use of sunglasses, may feel comfortable going to the store by day 3-4, and with make-up could return to work by 5-7 days.
Facelift Surgery – Usually can get around independently by the second day. Usually do not feel comfortable going out in public for 5-7 days. Requires 10-14 days before returning to work if in the public eye.
Breast Surgery – Usually can get around independently by the second day. May return to work at 5-7 days if not required to lift more than 15 pounds. Liposuction – Usually can get around independently by the second day, earlier if smaller number of areas treated. One can return to work and normal activities in 5-7 days.
Abdominoplasty – Patients may take between 2-4 days before getting around independently. The recovery is almost identical to C-section. One can return to a desk job at 5-7 days, other jobs 10-14 days.
Question: Once I get the surgery done, how long will it be before I can get up and moving again?
Answer: The period of recovery depends on the surgery performed. After surgery strenuous physical activities are limited. You can resume normal activities within a few days depending upon the surgical procedure. In some cases there will be temporary swelling, bruising and discomfort. The most common concern is an uncomfortable feeling, not pain. Pain is surprisingly minimal and easily controlled with medication. Mild analgesics are used in most cases, but stronger medication is given when necessary.
The surgeon will discuss your postoperative visits for removal of dressings and sutures. Special arrangements are made for patients who are from out of town and arrangements are usually available for patients who do not live in the area, or choose to spend a few days after surgery away from their families.
Care is taken to place the incision in the natural skin creases or skin folds along inconspicuous areas so they are not visible when the healing process is completed. The incision may be pink for several weeks postoperatively, but is easily camouflaged the day after suture removal. Complete maturation of the surgical area takes more than one year, though in most cases after one or two weeks, only the patient and physician can detect the surgical incision. Time is the single most important factor in the healing process.