Recovering After Plastic Surgery
ANALGESIA AND ANTIBIOTICS
Most surgery is relatively pain-free, requiring oral medications for pain relief. If the procedure is one where we anticipate a greater level of discomfort, you will additionally be be given intravenous pain relief which may be controlled by you or given on a regular basis by our nursing staff. This is weaned off as quickly as appropriate to ensure that you can go home pain-free or controlled well with oral medications.
For most procedures you will be given antibiotics during your stay in hospital and you will go home on a course of antibiotics to help prevent infections.
Most patients will have a light meal after their procedure and can return to a normal diet from the day following their operation.
Cigarette smoking as we all know is severely detrimental to your health for a multiple number of well-publicised reasons. Your surgical experience, recovery and outcome can also be severely compromised if you smoke. Cigarette smoking significantly affects your lung reserves and as a result you are at increased risk of respiratory complications under general anaesthesia. This is particularly compounded in larger surgical procedures such as a Tummy Tuck or a Mummy Makeover. Smoking also leads to delayed wound healing and an increase in wound breakdown after the surgery. This can be a devastating outcome particularly where large incisions are involved as in an abdominoplasty surgery.
There can be less blood supply to crucial areas leading to a higher risk of complications such as nipple/areolar loss in breast reduction surgery and smoking has been shown to significantly increase the risk of capsular contracture in breast augmentation surgery.
In view of these and more potential risks with smoking, we insist on a strict no-smoking policy for 8 weeks prior to your surgery and 8 weeks after your surgery for most cosmetic procedures. For your own safety, your surgery will be cancelled if you are unable to meet this requirement.
Surgery always carries a risk of blood clots in your legs that can break off and travel to your lungs leading to what is known as a pulmonary embolus. All precaution will be taken before, during and after surgery to prevent this. You will be given TEDS stockings to wear after the surgery, compression devices are used intra-operatively and blood thinning medication will be given as appropriate. The best contribution you can make for the prevention of these clots is early and regular mobilisation. So from the day of your operation you will be encouraged to mobilise and the sooner you are walking freely the better for your overall recovery.
Some surgical procedures will require you to wear a garment for up to 6 weeks post surgery. This is to help with the swelling and aid in healing.
Most stitches used are self-dissolving and the majority of dressings are waterproof. This means that you should be able to shower within 48 hours of your procedure as long as you pat dry your dressings afterwards. You will be given advice on how to manage your dressings and this may involve regular changes to be done by yourself or you may be required to visit our rooms for your first dressing change and then you may be able to do your subsequent dressing changes.
EMOTIONS POST SURGERY
The anticipation of surgery, the procedure itself as well as the fulfilment of a long held desire can place you on a rollercoaster of emotions. It is not unusual to feel teary after your surgery and you may even feel a little depressed for a week or two after the procedure. This should settle very quickly, however it is very important to discuss this with your doctor should you continue to feel this way for more than a few weeks after your surgery.
CHILDREN AND HEAVY LIFTING
If you have young children and you have had a procedure involving your abdomen such as a Mummy Makeover or tummy tuck, it is very important that you do not lift them up or engage in activity that puts tension on your wounds. This is one of the reasons why we actively encourage a support person to aid you with your recovery at home. Our strong recommendation is that you should not lift anything heavy (more than 5kgs) or raise your hands above your shoulders to engage in activities such as reaching into a cupboard for a minimum of 4 weeks post-operatively and ideally 6 weeks. This is a broad general advice and Dr Kumar will tailor this appropriately with you based on your particular procedure and circumstance.
RETURN TO WORK
Your ability to return to work will be determined on a case by case and procedure by procedure basis. Some patients will be back at work the next day but most prefer to take approximately one to two weeks off so that they can return refreshed and well recuperated.
While the art and skill of plastic surgery involves placement of scars as inconspicuously as possible, this does not mean that you will not have any scars. All operations cause a scar and there are many techniques that can be utilised to minimise the scars. Scars may become more prominent due to conditions such as keloid or hypertrophic scarring. Wound breakdown may contribute to less acceptable scarring and genetic factors may all contribute to poor wound healing. Early or extreme sun exposure may lead to hyper-pigmentation which will make the scar more obvious and so we strongly suggest the use of strong sunblock of at least SPF 50+ when going out in the sun if your operative sites are going to be exposed. A range of products that will help combat this is also available through our Medispa,
Other than the incision sites themselves, scar modulation can involve massage with Vitamin E, silicon cream or patches, or the use of lasers or other light modalities to help hide your scar. Should you need this, Dr Kumar will discuss your options and prescribe a course of treatment that best suits your pattern of scarring.