Recover is an essential phase in your surgery journey. Although it’s essential to recognise that there’s no surefire way to expedite the healing process, as each individual’s body responds differently, there are several proactive steps you can take to assist your recovery and make it as comfortable as possible.
This webpage is designed to provide you with invaluable insights practical advice and tips on helping during this phase. Whether you’re considering a Facelift, Breast Augmentation, Liposuction, or any other cosmetic procedure, the information below will equip you with the knowledge and tools to assist with your recovery.
Don’t Do Too Much Too Soon
Although we aim to provide you with tips and methods for experiencing a more comfortable recovery after cosmetic surgery, we also want to remind you that RUSHING RECOVERY after surgery is NOT recommended. Doing too much, too soon after an operation can negatively impact your results and lead to higher risk of surgery complication.
Every operation and person is unique
Keep in mind that every operation and every patient is unique – so healing has a bit of variability.
If you try to rush your surgery recovery or start doing more than advised early on, you could be risking your health, incision line healing/scars and overall long-term results.
The advised thing you can do to ensure a good recovery – and help avoid having a longer-than-desired recovery period – is to cheque with your Surgeon BEFORE resuming normal exercise or other activities. Follow your Surgeon’s and Nurse’s advice precisely for suitable results and patient well-being after your operation. And be sure you eat well, rest well and do not smoke as you recover from your procedure.
Guiding Principles for Effective Plastic Surgery Recovery
We advocate nine key recovery strategies that we extend to nearly all our patients. These include prioritising rest, maintaining proper hydration, diligently adhering to post-operative instructions, sustaining a well-balanced diet, considering the use of nutritional supplements, leveraging recovery aids, implementing effective scar management techniques, granting your body the necessary healing time, and maintaining open and effective communication with your surgical team. In the following sections, we’ll delve into each of these steps and their significance in your plastic surgery recovery journey.
Resting After Surgery – Getting Good Sleep during your Recovery after Cosmetic Plastic Surgery
Rest is a fundamental component of the recovery process after plastic surgery. It is crucial because it allows your body to heal and regenerate.
During rest, your body can direct its energy and resources toward repairing tissues, reducing inflammation, and lessening pain. For instance, during deep sleep, the body produces growth hormone, which speeds up tissue repair and healing. It also helps to replenish your energy levels, reducing the risk of complications. Additionally, proper rest affects your mental clarity, making it easier to manage discomfort and make healthy choices during recovery.
Adequate rest supports the body’s normal healing mechanisms, so following your surgeon’s recommendations regarding sleep and recovery periods is vital for achieving the appropriate outcomes.
Sleeping after surgery
Understand that experiencing rest-related challenges during the initial stages of post-operative healing is normal but will change over time.
It’s common to have difficulty sleeping comfortably during the initial recovery period. To navigate this, it’s important to be informed about what to expect and surround yourself with a supportive network of friends and family to help and support you.
For additional tips on helping your cosmetic surgery recovery, we recommend reading our blog on Cosmetic Surgery Recovery Tips.
Staying well-hydrated after plastic surgery is of great importance for your recovery. Why hydration is important and tips to ensure you’re getting enough fluids, include:
Importance of Hydration
- Promotes Healing
- Hydration is essential for the body’s natural healing processes.
- It helps transport essential nutrients and oxygen to the surgical site, which aids in tissue repair.
- Prevents Complications
- Dehydration can lead to complications like blood clots, constipation, and urinary retention.
- Proper hydration can reduce the risk of these issues.
- Medication Absorption
- Many post-operative medications require proper hydration for optimal absorption and effectiveness.
- Insufficient hydration can hinder your medications from working as intended.
- Reducing Swelling
- Hydration can help reduce post-operative swelling.
- When you’re well-hydrated, your body is better at managing fluid balance.
Tips for Staying Hydrated
- Drink Water
- Pure, plain water is the best choice for staying hydrated.
- Try to sip water throughout the day.
- Avoid Dehydrating Drinks
- Limit or avoid drinks like caffeine as it can lead to dehydration.
- If you’re consuming these types beverages, balance them with extra water.
- Fruit-Infused Water
- If plain water isn’t appealing, try infusing it with slices of fruit or herbs for added flavor.
- Oral Rehydration Solutions
- In some cases, your surgeon may recommend oral rehydration solutions or electrolyte drinks to maintain the right balance of fluids and electrolytes.
- Hydration Schedule
- Set a schedule for drinking water, especially if you’re on a pain medication regimen.
- This will help ensure you’re consistently hydrating.
- Monitor Urine Color
- Urine color can be a good indicator of hydration.
- Clear or pale yellow urine generally means you’re well-hydrated, while darker yellow or amber urine suggests dehydration.
- Eat Hydrating Foods
- Consume foods with high water content, like fruits (watermelon, oranges) and vegetables (cucumbers, lettuce).
- Water Consumption Record
- Keep a record of your water intake if you have trouble remembering to drink enough throughout the day.
- Use a Straw
- Some people find it easier to drink from a straw, especially if mobility is limited after surgery.
- Limit Salt
- Reducing your salt intake can help prevent excess fluid retention.
Remember that individual hydration needs vary, so consult your surgeon for personalized advice. Proper hydration is a simple yet powerful way to support your body’s healing process and promote a more comfortable recovery after plastic surgery.
3. Follow your Surgeons Instructions
Your Surgeon will give you advice, and it’s important to follow this advice exactly. This information does NOT constitute medical information and does NOT supersede what your Surgeon or Doctor has told you to do after cosmetic plastic surgery. Do know when to be concerned and cheque with your Surgeon or Nursing team if any concerns or unusual symptoms.
Importance of Following Surgeon’s Instructions
- Optimal Healing: Your surgeon’s instructions are designed to promote the best conditions for healing. They are based on their experience and medical knowledge.
- Minimizing Risks: These instructions often include steps to reduce complications such as infection, bleeding, or excessive swelling. By following them, you reduce the risks associated with your specific procedure.
- Comfort and Pain Management: Surgeons provide guidance on pain management. Properly following these recommendations can help control post-operative discomfort and reduce the need for additional pain relief.
- Scarring: Following instructions on wound care and scar management can influence the final appearance of your scars. This may lead to less noticeable scarring over time.
- Stitch or Suture Care: Surgical sites typically involve stitches or sutures. Your surgeon’s instructions will guide you on how to care for these, which is essential for wound healing.
- Diet and Nutrition: After surgery, you might receive specific dietary recommendations. This could involve avoiding certain foods or focusing on nutrition that supports healing.
- Physical Activity: Surgeons provide guidelines on when and how you can gradually reintroduce physical activity. This is crucial for ensuring you don’t overexert yourself or jeopardize the surgical site’s stability.
- Medication Compliance: Instructions regarding medications, including antibiotics and pain relievers, are vital. Proper adherence ensures that you get the right dosage at the right times.
Tips for Following Surgeon’s Instructions
- Ask Questions: If you’re unsure about any aspect of the instructions, don’t hesitate to ask your surgeon for clarification.
- Take Notes: During pre-surgery consultations, consider taking notes or recording your surgeon’s guidance. This can serve as a reference during your recovery.
- Have a Support System: Inform family members or friends about your surgeon’s instructions so they can help you follow them.
- Set Reminders: Use alarms, reminders, or a schedule to ensure you don’t forget medications, wound care, or appointments.
- Open Communication: Stay in contact with your surgeon’s office if you encounter any issues or have questions during recovery.
- Keep Appointments: Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with your surgeon. These are vital for them to assess your progress and address any concerns.
Remember, every surgical procedure is unique, and your surgeon’s instructions will be tailored to your specific needs. Trust their experience and rely on their guidance to ensure the best possible outcome and a successful recovery.
4. Good Nutrition – Well-Balanced Diet
Maintaining good nutrition during your recovery from plastic surgery is essential for a variety of reasons, including supporting the healing process and reducing the risk of complications.
Why Good Nutrition Matters
- Wound Healing: Protein is a fundamental component of the body’s ability to repair and regenerate tissue. Consuming enough protein promotes more effective wound healing after surgery.
- Immune Function: Adequate nutrition supports a strong immune system, helping to protect against infections and illnesses that could impede recovery.
- Energy Levels: Surgeries can be physically taxing. Proper nutrition ensures you have the energy needed to recover and engage in everyday activities.
- Reduced Complications: Proper nutrition helps to minimize the risk of complications such as infections, slow healing, or excessive bleeding.
- Pain Management: Certain nutrients have anti-inflammatory properties that can aid in pain management, reducing the need for excessive pain medication.
- Minimized Swelling: Some foods, like those rich in antioxidants (e.g., fruits and vegetables), can help reduce swelling and inflammation, common side effects of surgery.
Tips for Good Nutrition During Cosmetic Surgery Recovery
- Protein is essential for the maintenance and repair of body tissue.
- Depleted protein levels will cause a decrease in collagen development, slowing the wound-healing process. Adequate protein levels will help achieve optimal wound healing rates.
- Sources of protein include red and white meats, fish, eggs, liver, dairy products (milk, cheese, yoghurt), soybeans, legumes, seeds, nuts and grains.
- Vitamins and Minerals
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin C plays an important role in collagen synthesis as well as the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis).
- Adequate Vitamin C levels help strengthen the healing wound.
- Vitamin C also has important antioxidant properties that help the immune system and it increases the absorption of iron.
- Vitamin C is found mostly in fruit and vegetables, especially, oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes, and leafy vegetables.
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin A increases the inflammatory response in wounds, stimulating collagen synthesis.
- Low Vitamin A levels can result in delayed wound healing and susceptibility to infection.
- Vitamin A is found in milk, cheese, eggs, fish and dark green vegetables.
- Vitamin C
- Iron is part of the system that provides oxygen to the site of the wound, therefore iron (haemoglobin) deficiency can impair healing.
- Iron deficiency can also result in impaired collagen production and strength of the wound.
- The best sources of iron in the diet are red meat, offal, fish, eggs, wholemeal bread, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, nuts and yeast extracts.
- Whole grains, legumes, and fruits are excellent sources of fiber, which can help prevent constipation – a common issue after surgery, often due to medications and decreased mobility.
- As mentioned previously staying well-hydrated is essential for recovery.
- Proper hydration supports circulation, helps transport nutrients to cells, and assists the body in removing waste products.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids can have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Incorporate foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as;
- Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel)
- Incorporate foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as;
- Caloric Needs
- While good nutrition is important, don’t overeat.
- You might be less active during recovery, so ensure that your calorie intake aligns with your energy expenditure.
- Small, Frequent Meals
- Consider eating smaller, more frequent meals.
- This can make it easier to digest food, maintain stable blood sugar levels, and prevent overeating.
- Avoid Excess Sugar and Processed Foods
- Sugary and highly processed foods can contribute to inflammation.
- Opt for whole, unprocessed foods instead.
- Consult with your surgeon before taking any supplements.
- They can advise on specific supplements that may be beneficial for your recovery.
- Medical Advice
- Always consult with your healthcare provider or nutritionist to develop a recovery eating plan tailored to your specific surgery and individual needs.
Incorporating these nutritional tips into your recovery plan can help optimize healing. Remember to follow your surgeon’s recommendations closely throughout the recovery process.
Foods to Choose and Diets to Avoid
- If you have food or nutritional limitations or allergies, discuss these in detail with your Surgeon BEFORE your operation.
- If constipation is a concern after surgery or you have constipation due to pain medications, ask your Surgeon for advice.
5. Nutritional Supplements and Items in Your Recovery Pack
- In order to aid your recovery – our Plastic Surgeons group in Melbourne provide patients with a Recovery pack.
- It contains a mixture of “science and love” products and information to help you heal.
- Supplementation of essential nutrients is particularly necessary when a normal diet is lacking – it can also be very helpful when your body needs a boost due to the stressors of having had an operation (excisions).
- While nutritional supplements can be beneficial, they should not replace a balanced and nutritious diet. Your primary source of nutrients should be whole foods, and supplements should be used to complement your dietary intake when necessary.
6. Surgery Recovery and Healing Aids – Post-Operation Support for Cosmetic Plastic Surgery
Your Recovery Pack usually contains several of the following healing aids:
Arginaid Powder Drink
Arginine is concentrated in the skin and connective tissue and increases collagen deposition. It works at a cellular level to assist healing and stimulate the immune response. While it is found in foods such as eggs, nuts and whole grains, we have provided you with a box of Arginaid Powder Drink to give you the additional support your body will need at this time. Dissolve one packet in a glass of water twice a day, until all is used.
Derived from the European plant Arnica Montana, Arnica is traditionally used in homoeopathic medicine to help relieve strains, sprains, bruising and sore, aching muscles. It may, therefore, help to relieve muscular pain, swelling and bruising after your surgery. Follow the dosage guidelines on the box. The small tablets dissolve quickly under your tongue.
Swisse Hair Skin Nails is a combination of vitamins and minerals shown to support hair, skin and nail health. It contains ingredients essential for the formation of collagen and the maintenance of healthy skin. It may be of assistance with wound healing and improving scar results. It is recommended you take one tablet per day with food.
Ginger and Peppermint Tea
After surgery, some people report that they have an “unsettled” stomach, or are feeling a little “off colour”. This can usually be attributed to the general anaesthetic. Peppermint and Ginger have a long tradition of medicinal use in relieving nausea.
As a patient of our surgeons, you will receive a complimentary Skincare pack which contains a variety of skincare products for you to enjoy. One of our nurses will usually bring this to you when she visits you in hospital for your post-operative check.
7. Take advantage of high-tech scar management and surgery recovery support
- Other healing aids may help with scar healing or reduce scar visibility. We can give you advice on what to do to help minimise your scars.
- Ask your Surgeon and Surgery team for details and be sure you take advantage of your visit to the Coco Ruby Skin Care teams!
- Some options to help you have better-looking scars after surgery are listed below.
HEALITE II treatments, Laser Therapy, MicroNeedling, Fraxel or other Post-Op Scar Treatment Options
Our plastic surgeons choose from some of the latest, most advanced surgical techniques and scar minimisation technologies to HELP reduce the extent of scarring during surgery and post-operatively. After your wound has closed and healed, it can take over 12 months for the scar to completely settle. For some surgeries, we offer inclusive scar management treatments at Coco Ruby in Hawthorn East/Melbourne.
All Surgery leaves a scar. Some patients have more visible scars than others. Ask your Surgeon for information and what to expect.
- Scars are areas of fibrous tissue that replace normal skin after injury/surgery.
- A scar results from the biological process of wound repair in the skin and other tissues of the body.
- Thus, scarring is a natural part of the healing process.
- With the exception of very minor lesions, every wound (e.g., after an accident, disease, or surgery) results in some degree of scarring.
We offer patients “gold standard” scar minimization treatments during the scar healing period – often included in your procedure. Ask a Patient Care Coordinator which patients and which procedures usually benefit from scar treatments and what your options are for post-op scar minimisation.
8. Be sure to Take it easy and don’t try to do too much, too soon.
We strongly advise our patients to prioritize rest during their recovery process, although we understand that this might be challenging, especially when juggling work commitments, childcare, and a busy lifestyle.
Being mindful of your surgical wounds is of paramount importance. It’s vital to avoid any activities or movements that could inadvertently set back the healing process. For instance, a simple bump or incorrect movement while lifting children or reaching for objects can disrupt wound healing.
Teach your children to be gentle and, for your part, refrain from any strenuous lifting, reaching, or vigorous exercise for a minimum of one week to up to several months, depending on the specific procedure you’ve undergone. Your surgeon will provide guidance tailored to your case.
Rest is your ally during this phase, so be sure to get the recuperation you need.
Need Help at Home?
- Does your lifestyle make it difficult to plan for surgery recovery downtime? There are excellent options to consider so you can get the surgery you want or need.
- Many commercial services offer home help and surgery recovery support for plastic or cosmetic surgery patients – please ask by phoning 1300 599 990
Exercise after Cosmetic or Plastic Surgery: When is it safe to resume your gym or exercise routine?
Exercise post-surgery should only be resumed under the explicit recommendation of your surgeon. However, light movements and walking are often recommended after surgery, as it can help with circulation. Always consult your surgeon to determine what is suitable for your individual case, as guidelines may differ from patient to patient.
In the event that your post-operative progress is on track, it’s essential to reintroduce physical activity cautiously and exclusively upon receiving your surgeon’s approval. While the desire to return to your regular routine is understandable, avoid lifting, vigorous exercise, or driving until your surgeon deems it safe to do so.
Prioritize a gradual and gentle reentry into physical activity, as the ease of movement can be hindered initially, depending on your pre-surgery fitness level. Follow the specific post-operative instructions given by your surgeon and be attuned to your body’s signals. If any movement feels too strenuous or painful, heed these warnings.
Should you encounter issues such as suture complications or have any concerns, promptly contact your surgeon. Remember, it is crucial not to rush the recovery process, as pushing too hard too soon can impede your healing progress.
9. Stay connected to your clinic and know when to seek advice – Attend all Reviews as scheduled
One of the stressful parts of having surgery is knowing how to best manage Cosmetic Surgery Risks and Recovery symptoms.
In other words, knowing what’s normal after cosmetic surgery during recovery periods and knowing when to call or see your Surgeon or their nursing team to have something evaluated (and if there’s something you or a support person feels is a serious and life-threatening emergency, DO seek urgent medical assistance).
- Surgery is serious and involves risks. It’s helpful to know what’s normal and what’s not normal during your surgery recovery period.
- Having a good Surgeon behind you as your recovery is paramount to having a good recovery after plastic surgery – choose your surgeon wisely.
- Don’t’ have surgery if you’re not prepared to accept the risks, scars, healing downtime and potential complications.
- DO attend all follow-ups as recommended by your Surgeon and DO book an urgent review if you’re very concerned. If your Surgeon is in theatre that day, see one of his or her nursing team – if very urgent care is needed then see ’emergency advice’ below (visit ER).
All surgery carries certain risks and complications. There will also be varying timeframes for Surgery Recovery Periods for different operations.
No two patients will be the same, but there are general surgery recovery time frames and guidelines to help you.
After surgery, you need to carefully pay attention to any symptoms you’ve been alerted might not be normal recovery processes.
- Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery patients are given a list and other materials indicating what symptoms or signs to watch out for after surgery; as well as how to care for incision lines (surgical wounds) during your recovery time frame (recovery time period) after having breast surgery, tummy tuck surgery, eyelid lift, rhinoplasty or facelift surgery and other cosmetic procedures.
Your surgeon and nurse coordinator will take you through surgery risks and potential complications associated with your surgery to help you understand what to watch out for.
- They’ll happily answer any and all questions or concerns you may have so never hesitate to call your Surgeon and/or his or her nursing team if you have a concern.
- During a consultation, you’ll also be asked to sign a consent form indicating you fully understand the procedure, the associated risks, and potential complications issues.
- So be sure you do read and understand – and ask questions – before your surgery.
Be sure you alert your Surgeon to any concerning symptoms or unusual sensations or other issues as advised or recommended.
- If it is after clinic hours and for any reason, you cannot reach your Surgeon and/or are feeling very unwell, call our after-hours number.
- For emergencies, seek urgent medical attention/visit the emergency room if required.
- This is rare, of course, but can potentially occur – so just be alert and know what to expect and be sure your post-op support team does as well.