Mind the Body: Tips for a Successful Recovery after Plastic Surgery

Several months ago, in our last Mind the Body blog, I went over some of the things that you could do, before undergoing a plastic surgery procedure, that could potentially make your operation and subsequent recovery go more smoothly.  However, it is important to realize that recovery after any surgical procedure is a process, and that post-operative behavior plays perhaps an even larger role in the success and overall results.  It has been my experience, in my more than twenty-five years as a board-certified plastic surgeon specializing in procedures of the breasts and body, that the vast majority of possible complications that may arise, as well as the inability of some patients to maintain their results, are due to the patients’ failure to adhere scrupulously to post-operative care instructions.  Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind while you are recovering from cosmetic plastic surgery procedures.

Mind the Body: Tips for a Successful Recovery after Plastic SurgeryMaintain a Nutritious Diet

The body uses protein to rebuild healthy muscle tissue after injury, so maintaining healthy eating habits is vital for proper healing and to keep your results looking good.  Sources of lean protein include meats like fish, chicken and turkey, as well as eggs, beans, nuts, quinoa and even leafy greens.  Avoid excess salt, which can cause the body to retain fluids that worsen inflammation, and sugar, which may impair your immune system and potentially increase your risk of infection.  Consuming small amounts over the course of the day instead of large meals can not only encourage the weight loss process, but may also help alleviate some of the nausea that may be caused by anesthesia and some post-operative medications.

Engage in Moderate Exercise

Exercise after surgery can be tricky, since it is important not to overdo it and to balance your activity level carefully against the temporary restrictions that have been placed on you.  Early on, short, leisurely walks can stimulate blood flow in the extremities, helping to reduce the possibility that certain complications may arise.  Simple stretching exercises, performed correctly, can be an excellent way to “jump-start” the healing process without even getting out of bed.  Finally, once your doctor gives the okay, a moderate combination of cardiovascular exercises and resistance-training can boost your metabolism and help keep your lungs and lymph nodes clear, which will allow you to recover faster.

Avoid Harmful Outside Influences

Two environmental factors that can impair your recovery are cigarette smoke and ultraviolet light, and avoiding both as much as possible can help keep your healing process on track.  Smoking compromises lung function and blood flow to the skin’s surface, effectively delaying the healing process.  Exposure to sunlight can damage the skin and make scars much more noticeable, so taking steps to cover healing incisions (with either bandages or strong sunscreen) when you are outside is important.  Also avoid alcohol, caffeine, and any other products, medications, or herbal supplements that might adversely affect blood clotting.  I will provide you with a complete list of substances that can potentially impede your recovery.

Follow Your Surgeon’s Instructions

Attending all of your post-operative follow-up appointments without fail is perhaps the single most important thing that you can do to ensure that your recovery goes smoothly and your results meet your expectations.  These check-ups allow me to monitor your progress, and address any potential complications before they become serious.  Ask questions and take advantage of my knowledge and expertise by keeping the lines of communication open.  Managing pain and preventing infection are important steps to avoiding post-surgery complications, so don’t forget to take all of your prescribed antibiotics and pain medication, even after you are starting to feel better.

Be Patient and Manage your Expectations

The body takes time to heal and no plastic surgery procedure is going to achieve results overnight.  While being excited and anxious is understandable, listen to your body and give it what it needs to recover at its own pace.  Plastic surgery can often be a key step to a healthier and happier lifestyle, but it is not reasonable to expect it to drastically change your life.  Studies have found that the patients who are most satisfied with their plastic surgery results are those who maintain realistic expectations throughout the process.

The results of a plastic surgery procedure can often last a lifetime, so don’t be afraid to put in the time and effort that it takes to ensure everything turns out well.  If you would like to learn more about any of the plastic surgery procedures that I preform please feel free to connect with me, Dr. James Namnoum, on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for all the latest plastic surgery news and updates.  If you are interested in discussing what plastic surgery procedures might be able to specifically do for you, please contact my office to schedule a consultation today.