Unsurprisingly, the single question most often asked by clients wishing to undergo a cosmetic procedure is, “How long will it take to recover?” This makes sense, given the fact that most of us lead busy lives. Spending long hours away from the responsibilities of our careers, caring for our families, or attending school can require significant schedule-juggling on our parts, so knowing what to expect is critical.

While recovery will depend on many factors, such as the nature of surgery, age, the type of anesthesia used and more, we can make some general predictions and suggestions that will both relieve the anxiety of the unknown and help you to better plan ahead.

It’s important to note that…

  • If you receive general anesthesia, you will need someone to stay at the office during your surgery and also drive you home.
  • Most cosmetic procedures will require that you schedule assistance with childcare and errands in advance.
  • Scheduling too little recovery time may create unnecessary stress. Give yourself extra time so that you can relax and return to work in good spirits.
  • If your job is particularly physically demanding, you may need more time to recovery than someone sitting at a desk.
  • Patients undergoing facial procedures may need additional “non-social” time in order to avoid being seen with swelling or bruising.

The following is a general summary of what to expect for a variety of areas in the body, as well as standard recovery times for specific procedures

Breast

Breast surgery clients will require someone to drive them home and assist with basic care activities such as making meals, dispensing medication and childcare for the first 24 hours. While resting, the back, neck and arms should be elevated and supported. Make sure to get up and walk around and/or stretch your limbs every few hours, as this reduces the risk of blood clotting. To combat any temporary post-surgical discomfort, your doctor will provide pain medication along with anti-nausea pills.

After breast surgery, most patients will need to wear a surgical bra. This not only supports the newly altered tissue, it also keeps any dressings from shifting around. Exercise and lifting should be avoided as these may increase your heart rate or place strain on the treatment sites.

The breasts will continue to show some swelling for 3-4 months, however you will be able to resume normal activity within a few weeks. Return to activity is slow and progressive with some requiring more time than others.

Body

Your doctor will strive to minimize the appearance of scarring, but with body contouring procedures, it’s very important that you follow your aftercare instructions carefully. Strict patient compliance will ensure the fastest scar fading and quickest recovery times in general. Aftercare may include massaging the scar tissue and applying creams or other topical agents.

Sutures for body procedures are generally removed within the first week along with any drains that may be in place to excise fluids. In many cases, the doctor will recommend a compression garment, which should be worn around the clock. This aids in healing and encourages your torso to maintain its new, improved shape. Most patients are able to return to work within the first week after liposuction, however recovery it may take 2-4 weeks after abdominoplasty. We have learned that each patient is different and that recovery times vary widely.

Face

As with body contouring procedures, sutures and/or drains will be removed after approximately 4-7 days. Incisions are typically very well hidden for most facial treatments, and makeup can be worn starting at about 2 weeks post-op. Most clients will feel confident in social settings after one month, if not slightly earlier. Bruising can last up to 2 weeks, although in rare instances it lasts longer. Each of us has a different tolerance for being in a social setting after facial cosmetic surgery, which will also affect your return to your normal routine.

Nose

Recovery from nose surgery requires following a few extra steps in some cases, but on the whole, patients find that the healing process is far more manageable than they had previously suspected. A nasal splint is removed after around 7 days, and swelling and bruising around the eyes usually subsides within a few weeks. Rhinoplasty patients will find that it takes about a year for the nose to fully heal and settle into its new shape, however these changes will be subtle and occur very slowly. We find that most patients return to work after 10-14 days, although some require somewhat longer.