Once you’ve had your plastic surgery, you understandably can’t wait to see the results. The final outcome of some procedures may be evident in a matter of days or weeks, whereas others may take several months or more to be fully revealed.
But did you know that YOU can influence how quickly you see those results?
Once your plastic surgeon has consulted with you on the outcome you desire and performed the surgery to achieve that outcome, how quickly and smoothly you recover is largely up to you. Your recovery “style” is equally as important as the amount of time you spend in recovery. Your plastic surgeon will provide you with detailed post-recovery care instructions. These are specific to your procedure, but generally call for you to rest as much as possible and to limit movement or activity for a time.
Recovery instructions are designed to speed your healing process and are truly vital to the success of your final outcome. Your surgeon has done his part – now it is time for you to do yours.
How quickly you “bounce back” is highly individual based on a number of factors: including age, skin condition, and the type of procedure.
However, a younger patient in top health may recover from the same procedure more slowly than one who is older and not as resilient if they do not follow their post-op instructions.
For example, staying out of the sun is paramount after a laser resurfacing procedure. Sun exposure can harm your tender new skin, slowing your healing time. Expose your freshened skin to the sun without adequate protection frequently enough, and you may find yourself confronted with the same issues that brought you to your surgeon in the first place.
If your doctor has instructed you to take a certain amount of downtime – time spent avoiding certain activities to allow yourself to heal – make sure you follow his instructions. Make plans to be away from work in advance, ask a friend to run errands for you or help you out at home if necessary, and wait to schedule get-togethers after you’ve had time to recover. If you are supposed to keep a certain site elevated, be sure to do so. This can reduce swelling. Be sure to ask your doctor when you can get back to routine activities, such as going to the gym and applying makeup.
With any procedure, the less you touch, scratch or disturb your healing skin, the better. Interfering with the healing mechanisms of the skin will disrupt and ultimately delay your recovery. So even if it itches, don’t scratch.
Keeping your skin clean with a saline, sterile solution (or specially-provided cleanser) is vital to avoid infection. Some procedures may require you to use cooling packs, but you should generally avoid applying ice directly to the skin of a surgical site.
You will also want to take all medication exactly as directed. If you have any questions about your medication, be sure to contact our office. Failure to take your medication can result in infection or discomfort – ultimately slowing your recovery and delaying the arrival of your beautiful new results.
Avoiding sun exposure is not just important to laser resurfacing recovery. Surgical scars that are exposed to sun may darken in pigment. Even the tiniest scars that would otherwise heal beautifully may become unsightly if their tone differs from that of surrounding skin.
Finally, as with any surgical procedure, staying hydrated is essential. Drinking plenty of water will help to move the anesthesia and other drugs out of your system and reduce water retention and bloating.
Remember, the more closely you follow your doctor’s instructions, the sooner you’ll be able to see your beautiful results.