Recovering From Cosmetic Surgery
How to Plan Your Surgery and Recovery
- If you work weekdays, schedule your operation late in the week to give you an extra weekend of recovery before returning to work.
- Expect to have blood drawn at a hospital or lab prior to surgery. A mammogram is usually obtained before breast surgery, and if you are over 40 or have medical problems, you may also need an EKG or chest x-ray. The preoperative exam process usually requires a separate visit and will take 30 minutes to two hours.
- Purchase two weeks of groceries and household supplies. Prepare single-serving meals and freeze them.
- Prepare for the need to reduce swelling following facial surgery with cool packs and head elevation. Crushed ice can be placed in a plastic bag, wrapped in a small towel and freshened regularly. Alternatively, frozen peas are tidy, reusable and maintain their cold temperature. To elevate your head, stacked pillows are prone to failure, but a dependable backrest can be purchased at a department store for less than $25. A recliner is also a reliable way to elevate your head, but may be uncomfortable for sleeping.
- If you feel awkward telling your friends and coworkers you are having cosmetic surgery, you may want to say you are taking vacation at home, having reconstructive surgery or having "female surgery." Each of these explanations may be true, given your situation.
- Arrange transportation for the day of surgery and for your follow-up appointments. Anticipate that you won’t be able to drive on the day of surgery or while you are taking pain medication.
- Ask a friend or family member to stay with you during your first night at home. This person should be willing and able to refresh your ice packs, prepare your food, check on you through the night, recognize problems and call your doctor. If no one is available, consider hiring a private duty nurse. Dr. Piasecki can direct you to a reputable nursing agency. Anticipate paying $300-$500 per day for this service.
- Fill prescriptions for antibiotics and pain medication prior to the day of surgery. You can pick up the prescriptions from Dr. Piasecki’s office before surgery and have them filled when you stock up on groceries.
What to Anticipate After Surgery
- Expect to look worse before you look better. Nearly all cosmetic surgery procedures involve swelling and bruising. As swelling and bruising fades, you will begin to see the results.
- If you had surgery on your face or neck, keep your head elevated for two to three days to minimize swelling and speed recovery. Do not underestimate the importance of elevation: keeping your head elevated will reduce your recovery time, and failure to do so will prolong recovery and may create disturbing asymmetries.
- Ask Dr. Piasecki when you can shower, bathe and wash your hair again. This is often allowed within a day or two of surgery.
- Don’t drive if you are taking pain medication because it will alter your judgment and delay your responses. Following most procedures, you will be able to drive once you stop taking pain medication.
- Consult Dr. Piasecki before taking any vitamins or herbal medications, even those you believe are harmless. Some of these medications can cause problems.
- Don’t resume exercise until Dr. Piasecki allows it. Exercise may worsen your swelling and confound your final result, so don’t exercise even if you feel able.
- Vitamin E is falsely perceived to minimize scar visibility. Whether taken in pill form or as a topical cream, there is no evidence that it improves scar appearance.
Use extreme caution when exposing yourself to the sun following surgery. For the first year, protect all surgical sites with potent sun block (SPF 15-40). Dr. Piasecki will tell you when it’s appropriate to apply sunscreen to your incision areas. If you are interested, complimentary samples of Dr. Piasecki’s SPF 30 moisturizer are available in our office. The products are available in our office or online.