Post-Op Instructions for Common Plastic Surgery Procedures

January 17, 2014 Scott Newman

plastic-surgery-recovery

An important part of a successful plastic surgery procedure happens after the operation has been completed.

When you return home after your surgery, you will need to follow a post-surgical regimen based on your surgical procedure.

The following information is provided to assist you during your recovery process until you return to your doctor’s office for your post-operative appointment with your cosmetic surgeon.

General Post-Op Instructions

Each different procedure will come with its own applicable instructions – as you will see below. However, there are some tips that apply to just about every single procedure.

Pain Medication – If your doctor has prescribed pain medication, take as prescribed for pain. During your initial recovery period, it is important to take your medication. Don’t let the pain become intense before you take your medication as it will be more effective if you take it when you start to feel pain.

Low Grade Fever – Typically, after any surgical procedure it is normal to experience a low grade fever (below 100 degrees).

Drainage and Bleeding – A small amount of drainage or bleeding on your dressing is normal and should be expected.

Notify Your Doctor if:

  1. Your prescribed pain medication is not effective in relieving your pain
  2. You develop a fever of 101 degrees or higher
  3. You have a large amount of drainage or bleeding

 

Procedure Specific Post-Op Instructions

I’ve outlined the general instructions above that apply to most procedures. Below are the specific instructions that apply to the individual procedures that are most commonly performed in cosmetic surgery offices like ours.


 

Breast Surgery Post-Op Instructions

  • Sleep with your back elevated. This will help keep swelling to a minimum.
  • Avoid bending and straining, and lifting heavy items. These activities will cause swelling and discomfort.
  • Wear the surgical bra continuously until your postoperative appointment.
  • You are not to shower until you see your doctor.
  • Some bleeding and drainage is normal with breast augmentation surgery. This usually subsides within the first 24 hours.
  • Your breast will be very swollen following any breast procedure. Swelling is usually symmetrical (about the same for both breasts). Notify your doctor if:
    • You notice a sudden increase in swelling
    • You feel pressure at the operative site
    • One breast seems much more swollen than the other

Still researching which procedure is best for you? Learn about our breast surgery procedures


 

Breast Reduction Post-Op Instructions

  • Sleep with your back elevated. This will help keep swelling to a minimum.
  • Avoid bending and straining, and lifting heavy items. These activities will cause swelling and discomfort.
  • Your doctor will remove your drains and change your dressings at your first post-operative appointment. Do not remove bra or dressings before this appointment.
  • Do not shower before your first post-operative appointment.
  • Some bleeding and drainage is normal with a breast reduction surgery. This will usually subside within the first 24 hours. Notify your doctor if you are concerned about drainage or bleeding.
  • Your breasts will be swollen following the procedure. Swelling is usually symmetrical (about the same for each breast). Note: If you notice a sudden increase in swelling or a feeling of pressure at the operative site, notify your doctor.

Still researching which procedure is best for you? Learn about our breast reduction procedure


 

Tummy Tuck Post-Op Instructions

  • Maintain bed rest with your knees and back elevated for the first postoperative week. You may get up for meals and to use the bathroom.
  • Wear the surgical garment continuously for two weeks postoperatively. You may remove it to wash it and when you shower.
  • Drainage from the drain tubes is normal and usually amounts to about 30-6- cc’s every 2-3 hours. Empty your drainage tubes every three to four hours as follows and record the amount of drainage:
    • Open cap on bulb portion of drainage tube and squeeze drainage into the sink or toilet. While squeezing bulb, recap. Note: Bulb should not be round after capping. It should be flat which means it is working properly.
    • Milk the tubing by holding it at the end closest to your body. With your other hand, gently but firmly pull the tubing. This will help prevent the tubing form getting clogged.
  • Do not shower until you see your doctor at your post-operative appointment.
  • When standing or walking, maintain a “hunched-over” position. This decreases the tension on your incision and helps with healing and minimizing scars at the operative site.

Still researching which procedure is best for you? Learn about our tummy tuck procedure


 

Lower Body Lift Post-Op Instructions

  • Wear the garment continuously until you see your doctor for your post-operative appointment.
  • You may experience a moderate amount of bloody drainage. If so, reinforce the dressings as necessary.
  • The best position to keep tension off of the incision is lying down or standing. Refrain from sitting and bending as much as possible.
  • Do not shower until you see your doctor for your first post-operative appointment.

Still researching which procedure is best for you? Learn about our thigh lift procedure


 

Thigh Lift Post-Op Instructions

  • Keep legs elevated on several pillows for about 3-4 days following surgery. This will help reduce swelling and pain.
  • Wear the wraps or garment continuously until you see your doctor for your post-operative appointment.
  • Do not shower until you see your doctor for your first post-operative appointment.

Still researching which procedure is best for you? Learn about our body lift procedure


 

Facial Surgery Post-Op Instructions

  • Keep your head elevated above the heart at all times. This means that you should sleep with several pillows under your head. This will help reduce the swelling that occurs following eye, face, and nasal surgery.
  • Avoid bending, straining, coughing and sneezing as much as possible. These activities will also increase swelling.
  • In most instances, showering is permitted the day after surgery. Unless you receive post-operative instructions, do not:
    • Shower
    • Let water spray directly on to your face.
  • Use a cotton ball or q-tip to gently pat any dried blood left from surgery.
  • Notify your doctor if:
    • You experience swelling that makes it difficult for you to close your eyes.
    • You experience any changes in vision
    • If you have any difficulty moving your eyebrows or mouth
    • If you have bleeding that does not subside

Still researching which procedure is best for you? Learn about our facial surgery procedures


 

Facial Laser Resurfacing Post-Op Instructions

  • Keep your head elevated above the level of your heart at all times. This means you should sleep with several pillows under your head. This will help reduce the swelling that occurs following eye, face and nasal surgery.
  • Avoid bending, straining, coughing and sneezing as much as possible as these activities will also increase swelling.
  • If you have swelling that makes it difficult for you to close your eyes, notify your doctor.
  • Once scab forms on treated area, apply Neosporin ointment to affected area twice daily. This will help soften the scab so that it will fall off. DO NOT PICK AT SCAB as this can affect healing and scarring.
  • Continue to take Valtrex twice daily until prescription is completely finished.
  • In most instances, showering is permitted the day after surgery. Unless you receive post-operative instructions, do not:
    • Shower
    • Let water spray directly on to your face

Still researching which procedure is best for you? Learn about our facial laser resurfacing procedure


 

Brachioplasty Post-Op Instructions

  • Keep arms elevated on pillows above the level of your heart for several days following surgery. This will help reduce swelling and pain.
  • Wear the wraps or garment continuously until you see your doctor for your post-operative appointment.
  • Do not shower until you see your doctor for your first post-operative appointment.

Still researching which procedure is best for you? Learn about our body procedures


 

Hand Surgery Post-Op Instructions

  • Keep your affected arm elevated on pillows above the level of your heart. This will help decrease swelling and pain.
  • Do not remove the surgical dressing. Since you cannot remove the dressing, be aware that a small amount of blood on your dressing is normal. If you notice excessive bleeding on your dressing, call your doctor.
  • Keep the dressing dry until you see your doctor at your post-operative appointment.

Still researching which procedure is best for you? Learn about our body procedures


Follow Your Post-Operative Instructions

It’s easy to succumb to the discomfort that you may experience after your procedure, but if you adhere to the post-op instructions outlined above, then you will have a much better chance of experiencing a smooth, quick recovery.

And if you have specific questions about any of the information above or would like a consultation from myself as a top NYC plastic surgeon, then please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Advanced Plastic Surgery & Laser Center