A Plastic Surgery Recovery Nurse Explains What Her ‘Successful’ Patients Do After Surgery

A Plastic Surgery Recovery Nurse Explains What Her ‘Successful’ Patients Do After Surgery featured image
Andersen Ross Photography Inc/getty images

It’s day three after plastic surgery and my last client says, “Kelly this is really going so well.” Immediately, I burst out laughing. After a breast reduction and liposuction to her abdomen, flanks, arms and upper back, she was surprised to be doing so well. However, her revelation didn’t faze me at all. After helping countless of plastic surgery patients recover, I could tell immediately after I got her home from surgery that she would be one of my most successful patients ever, meaning she would have both great results and a great recovery. Every patient deserves both.

What are these successful patients doing that’s so unique? Using a combination of six practices that transform the post-surgery stigma.

Rally Your Tribe

Well, maybe not your entire tribe, but your most supportive, fun and positive friends. You know those friends that stand firmly by their opinion that you were perfect just the way you were before surgery? Not those friends. I’m talking about your friends that will grab you a smoothie and walk in super excited for you no matter what stage of the healing process you are in (because you will probably look a little rough after surgery, which is normal). You know the friends I’m referring to: the ones who make you laugh a little more than you’d like after a tummy tuck. They will help cheer you on and love you as you navigate this process.


The more time you spend preparing for your recovery, the better it will be. My patients who show up on the morning of surgery having prepared for a great recovery get just that. A few of my pre-surgery steps: Plan what food will fuel your recovery; have a range of options so you will be successful and not default to pizza; have a spot in your bedroom where all your dressing and drain care will be handled (I call this area a ‘clean space’); lay down a small clean towel and organize everything; and have your nightstand prepared with the things you may want within reach. Don’t forget a straw, lip balm, your post-op instructions and phone chargers.

Don’t Judge Your Results

This is a big one. My most successful patients plan on not looking in the mirror much for the first week. Some even tape newspapers over the mirrors. Hardcore, but brilliant. Taking this part of the recovery process out of the equation is seriously wonderful—focus on filling yourself with the good and remembering that healing takes time.

Be Compliant

My most successful patients have read their post-operative instructions and have clarified anything they didn’t understand. Ask questions and make notes—this is your recovery plan, and you should refer to this throughout the process.

Move Your Body

Oftentimes, patients get home from surgery and want to crawl into bed and stay there. Do not do this. You will feel better and heal better if you get up at least every few hours during the day. Hopefully, you are drinking enough water that you must get up at least one time during the night, too. Little walks to the bathroom and back to the bed or chair are perfect. The key is moving and keeping your blood flowing. When you settle back down in bed, you will rest better if this is a part of your recovery routine.


Most of my patients do not want to eat after surgery. This may seem crazy to you, but it is the single common factor with 95 percent of my patients. For several important reasons, I recommend you get a small amount of food in your stomach as soon as you get home because it’s go time for your body to heal itself. After surgery is not the time to diet, cut calories or skip meals.

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