Cosmetic procedures in most cases are exciting experiences for patients. Yet, once they have had surgery, patients are anxious to return to normalcy to enjoy these changes. Many patients can accelerate the recovery process, to return as quickly as possible to their daily life. Patients can significantly impact their recovery process, as one of the main variables affecting the length of recovery is how well they listen to and follow their surgeon’s post-operative instructions. While this may seem simple, following instructions means even the minor directions they think are unnecessary. Many patients make a common mistake of jumping right back into their routine since they feel better physically, not realizing internal healing may still be taking place. Ignoring your surgeon’s recommendations could result in prolonged issues, such as infection, tearing or excessive bleeding, even reoperation.
In addition to following your surgeon’s instructions, here are a few things every patient can do to increase their odds of a successful recovery.
Rest is one of the most important things a patient can do, because the body needs to recover therefore expediting the healing process. Patients should avoid any and all vigorous activities and spend most of his or her time relaxing. Increased activity result in changes in blood pressure that can result in increased bruising and swelling. Also, making sure that they are getting at least 8 hours a sleep every night.
After surgery, many patients feel constipated or nauseous. Although they may not be hungry or want to eat, it is important to eat a healthy diet that promotes healing. Some patients have a reduced appetite for a few days following surgery so it is best to eat soft foods. Eating soft foods also allows a person to recover more quickly because it gives the digestive system a break. Additionally, it is important to drink lots of fluids during the recovery process because it is very easy to become dehydrated. The best types of fluids to drink are water and juice. Avoid Tea, coffee, caffeine-containing beverages and alcoholic drinks as these cause dehydration.
GET MOVING (carefully)
As soon as you are able to walk, you will likely be advised to do so by your surgeon to get the bowels moving and prevent blood clots. Continuing to move once you are home will help decrease the risk for these complications. Even if you don’t feel like going out for a long walk, taking a walk around your house or going outside for some fresh air is much better than doing nothing.
ASK FOR HELP
Don’t try to push through the pain. Keeping pain at a tolerable level is important, as too much pain lead to increased risk for developing a blood clot or pneumonia. When experiencing pain after a procedure, it is important to take the medication as prescribed by your surgeon. If you are in pain, don’t be afraid to ask for help. This can mean asking a family member or friend for assistance with daily tasks, or contacting your surgeon for help with pain management before the pain gets too severe.
SKIP THE WORKOUT
Working out raises blood pressure, and elevated blood pressure can increase bruising and bleeding which leads to swelling and inflammation. To help speed up recovery, it is necessary for the patient to avoid rigorous exercise for approximately the first 8 weeks. This time will vary based on the type of surgery performed. The surgeon will give instructions regarding restarting exercise after surgery that is tailored specifically for each individual. Patients who engage in vigorous workout regimens too soon after surgery can experience serious complications, such as re-opening of incisions, which can result in worse post-operative scars. Even if the patient thinks they are ready, it is very important to stay out of the gym until their surgeon has given them the okay.
DO NOT SMOKE
Smoking significantly delays the healing process, and can lead to serious complications during recovery. Nicotine causes blood vessels to constrict, making them smaller and decreasing the blood supply to the tissues. Blood clots are more common in people who smoke. Tissues that are not receiving an adequate blood supply may not heal correctly, which increases the risk of complications. All smokers should cease smoking eight weeks before any operation, and even though the surgery is over does not mean they are clear to light up again.
KEEP FOLLOW UP APPOINTMENTS
Although they may be feeling better, it is important for patients to keep their post-op appointment as the surgeon will be looking for things they may not be able to see, especially if your incision is internal. Follow-up blood work may also be done to ensure there is no infection, and adjustments to your medication that may be needed.
In closing, every surgery is different and each patient has their own medical history that needs to be taken into consideration. That is why it is very important to follow your surgeon’s post-operative instructions to ensure a healthy and speedy recovery that allows your body to heal properly, and provide you with the best results.