Plastic Surgeons Share Their Best Tips and Tricks for a Speedy Recovery

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While most of the time, effort and research about undergoing a plastic surgery procedure centers around the surgery itself, many patients may fail to think through what the recovery period may be like. It’s also hard to imagine what what you’ll need beforehand when facing the unknown. Who better to ask about the tricks of the trade than the surgeons who deal with patient recovery day in and day out? Here, top plastic surgeons share their best advice to ensure a smooth recuperation. 

Don’t Go Rogue

“The single best way to quicken post-operative recovery is to follow your surgeon’s rules and restrictions for activity. Patients who make their own rules, go on the internet for advice, or fail to review instructions for aftercare are not only putting their results at risk, they are putting their health at risk. Avoiding nonessential activities, getting plenty of sleep—much of our bodies healing occurs during sleep—and avoiding strain to a fresh surgical site is ideal. In addition to bromelain, I also like to recommend multi vitamins and supplemental vitamin A, B6, B12, C and D3 24 hours after surgery to enhance wound repair.” —Chicago plastic surgeon Julius Few, MD

Keep It Moving

“My best advice would be to walk regularly to prevent blood clots, take a probiotic if you are on antibiotics, and avoid smoking or secondhand smoke. A clean lifestyle often leads to a quicker, easier recovery! Eating the rainbow of fruits and vegetables, healthy meats, and avoiding processed and fast food can help make the body bounce back quicker.” —Troy, MI plastic surgeon Anthony Youn, MD

Prepare in Advance

“The best path to a speedy recovery is to prepare ahead of time—make food, clean the house prior to surgery, and arrange for help with kids and pets, etc. We have been using a lot of Exparel for nerve blocks with tummy tucks and breast surgery which helps for three to four days and limits the amount of narcotics the patient uses. It has been a game changer in particular with tummy tuck recovery. Combining this with a drain-free approach has changed the recovery for the better!” —Irvine, CA plastic surgeon Andrew Smith, MD

Repeat After Me: Ice, Elevate and Arnica

We encourage our patients to ice and elevate the surgical area as well as keeping it clean and dry.  A healthy diet consisting of high protein and lower sodium will help with the healing process. One thing we also encourage is the use of arnica, or bromelain tablets, to help with swelling and healing. We have our patients start taking them three days prior to surgery.” —Leesburg, VA plastic surgeon Phillip Chang, MD

Plan a Preventative Approach

“The best plan for quick recovery after surgical procedures are the following: the patient should first be healthy and should have medical clearance. If they smoke, they need to stop beforehand because it’s safer to undergo surgery if you’re a nonsmoker. We also give patients IV antibiotics, a steroid and an IV of tranexamic acid to decrease bleeding. Half an hour before the end of procedure we give them medication to prevent nausea and vomiting. During surgery, every patient has Flowtron on the legs, it improves circulation and prevent blood clots. Our nurses also manually massage the legs every 30 minutes. Lastly, I pad our arm boards in order to prevent numbness of hands and fingers after long procedures. All of these measures help ensure a quick recovery for patients after surgery.” —New York plastic surgeon Mokhtar Asaadi, MD

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