How do you get the most from your surgery and get back to “normal life” sooner? Our Practice Nurse Alecia Baker offers her top tips in this article.
For most of our patients, the decision to have surgery was carefully made – often over a number of years. A lot of focus is invested in choice of procedure, choice of surgeon, preparing for surgery and their finances.
But sometimes the important plastic surgery recovery phase is overlooked until it is happening! These are the keys to helping that process be a little easier and faster.
My 4 top tips for plastic surgery recovery:
1 – Nutrition: What you eat is imperative to your recovery process. Protein is the building block our cells need to recover and replenish. Therefore a well-balanced diet that is high in protein and incorporates lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and healthy fats is recommended. Quite often our patients utilise services such as Hello Fresh or Lite n Easy to help out during the first 6 weeks post op to make sure their diets are nutritionally sound and they are getting the adequate rest they need to aid in recovery.
2 – Rest and sleep: I know it sounds simple but one of the easiest and most beneficial things you can do to help with your physical and mental recovery is to get adequate rest. Disturbances to sleep and inadequate rest post operatively have been linked to increased pain sensitivity, wound breakdown, a heightened emotive state and overall poorer recovery. So make sure you rest or nap when you’re tired, take regular prescribed medication to minimise discomfort which may disturb sleep and accept assistance with tasks that you would normally do yourself.
3 – Wearing your garment and scar management: Consistently wearing your post-operative garment and scar management are two of the most important aspects of recovery and scar minimisation.
Your compression garment is effective in managing post-operative swelling and fluid retention by increasing blood circulation and nutrients to the surgical area. It assists in decreasing discomfort, bruising, and pressure on the incisions which can help reduce visible scars. All of this ultimately reduces down time and speeding up your recovery process.
There are many factors that you can’t control when it comes to how you will scar. Some of these include your age and genetics however by focusing on those things that can be controlled; you give your incision the best possible chance to heal with a minimally noticeable scar.
Scar maturation continues for up to 18 months after your procedure and post op clinic visits focus on practices such as taping incisions and education about scar massage to prevent, screen and treat scar formation to ensure your end result is smooth, faint and strong.
More details about scar minimisation is available in this recent article.
4 – Accept this process can feel like a roller coaster: Although the outcome of plastic surgery is generally a positive one it is important to highlight that there are multiple areas of your life that will be directly impacted in the short term by surgery. Your ability to work, care for family members and attend to your own activities of daily living will be impacted to some degree therefore assistance and support from family and friends is crucial during at least the first 2 weeks post op to allow you time to rest and recover.
Just as important as your physical recovery and not to be overlooked is your emotional well-being during and post surgery. It sounds cliché but the range of emotions and feelings you will go through can be compared to a “roller coaster ride”. You will have days when you feel like you’re doing well and cruising through the recovery phase and then there will be days when you’re asking yourself “why did I put myself through this”. It doesn’t make the process any easier but rest assured it is completely normal and in the not to distance future it will be a vague memory
Your post-operative care with Hunter Plastic Surgery
We provide comprehensive written instructions to help you with all the most common questions after surgery and your recovery will be carefully monitored. Generally you will have fortnightly appointments in our clinic for the first 6 weeks post op with myself or our other nurses
During these visits your surgical sites will be checked and dressings changed accordingly. You will be educated on topics such as garment wearing, pain relief, post op bruising and swelling, nutrition, sleeping habits, exercise restrictions and scar management.
It’s important to remember that it not a “one size fits all” approach and therefore post op instructions are individually tailored depending on your stage of plastic surgery recovery and the procedure that you have had done. This is a good opportunity for you to ask any questions or relay any concerns in regard to your recent surgery.
Remember the end goal – a happier, more confident you!
Although the journey is definitely a challenging one at times I can personally tell you from all of the patients I have looked after that it is a worthwhile one. Ultimately with the right surgeon, nursing care, education, support network and perseverance you will be amazed at the results that can be achieved!
Other blogs you might find useful during recovery:
This patient FAQ blog answers many questions our post operative patients ask and links to a number of detailed articles about other post operative care topics. Click here.
Alecia Baker, Practice Nurse, Hunter Plastic Surgery
Alecia joined us as our Practice Nurses in 2018. She is a Registered Nurse with extensive experience in nursing and patient management in some of the busiest hospital settings in the Hunter! She really cares about helping our patients become healthy and happy. Her kind and calm manner help them feel comfortable during their journey with us.