5 Ways to Heal Faster After Surgery

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Besides taking a holistic approach to plastic surgery, the best way to avoid complications is to follow your doctor’s orders. In addition to resting, taking it easy and not lifting anything heavy, these tricks of the trade are often recommended, too.

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“It’s important to move after surgery. Gentle aerobic activities like walking and stretching will improve healing and boost your immune system. To help you get back on your feet quicker, we use newer and longer acting local anesthetics, which can last up to several days to make recovery almost pain-free with minimal discomfort,” says McLean, VA, plastic surgeon Haven J. Barlow, MD. 

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According to Newport Beach, CA, plastic surgeon Sanjay Grover, MD, there are a number of things a patient can do to ensure they have the best chance of healing after plastic surgery. “Besides guaranteeing that you are in good health, have an optimum diet, are not anemic or do not have other underlying conditions that are not well managed, always avoid any type of nicotine product for a period of time prior to and after surgery. This is especially the case with procedures that involve a ‘lift’ of some sort, such as a facelift, breast lift or tummy tuck.”

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To help speed up recovery, Irvine, CA, facial plastic surgeon Corey Yeh, MD, says platelet-rich plasma (PRP) can make a huge difference. “With skin resurfacing procedures such as laser skin resurfacing or microneedling procedures, we have found success in using platelet-rich plasma to speed up the patient’s recovery by accelerating epithelialization of the skin and reducing inflammatory mediators.”

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Just because you’re having surgery, doesn’t mean you don’t have to watch your diet. “There’s a list of foods (and vitamins) I tell patients not to eat for at least two weeks before they have surgery—things like avocado are on there,” says Chevy Chase, MD, facial plastic surgeon Shervin Naderi, MD. “Despite the fact that avocados are healthy, they can cause an increased risk of bleeding.”

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Some doctors choose to use oxygen post-procedure to speed up the healing process. According to Denver facial plastic surgeon Brent Smith, MD, to promote faster healing, he recommends his surgical patients do a five-day speed-recovery process that uses a combination of hyperbaric oxygen, laser and LED-light treatments, and special recovery supplements. “Providing the body with oxygen via the hyperbaric chamber helps skin to heal more quickly and decreases bruising and swelling by up to 35 percent in the first week. The lasers work to reduce redness and inflammation on the incision points, and the LED treatments stimulate new tissue regeneration.”

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