The Day After Cosmetic Surgery
The extent of recovery required after cosmetic surgery depends on many factors—most importantly the type of surgery. In this article we’ll focus on what to expect after facial procedures.
Facial surgeries tend to cause a lot of swelling, and it is crucial that you keep ice packs on the surgical sites as instructed by your plastic surgeon (probably for the first 24 hours). Patients who don’t use ice packs as instructed often come into the office the next day with their heads resembling a basketball. The difference in swelling with or without ice packs is extreme.
The doctor will remove the bandages and maybe some packing to examine the surgical sites. He or she will clean the wounds, check for any usual bleeding, redness, swelling, or other concerns. You will be given instructions on how to care for the wounds at home. If you have sutures that will need to be removed, you’ll be given an appointment for 3-7 days post op. Keeping facial sutures in longer can increase the visibility of scars, so they will be removed very soon and the wound openings will be held shut with a special reinforced tape (called steri-strips) until complete healing occurs.
Depending on the surgery, you may not be allowed to wash your hair for a few days, so be prepared to feel grungy and try not to let it get to you. You can help keep your hair clean by applying powder to the roots away from surgical sites and brushing it through your hair. You will probably be instructed to forgo cosmetics for several days as well. Cosmetics are an excellent breeding ground for bacteria, so take these instructions seriously.
If you are undergoing nasal surgery, be mentally prepared to be miserable for a few days. Your nose will be tightly packed with gauze and surgical dressing, which can be pretty uncomfortable. It’s difficult to breathe, and your throat may be uncomfortable from drainage. Just remember that it is only for a short time…and keep focused on the results that are making the process worthwhile.
The most important variable to recovery that you can control is attitude. For example, one week I saw two ladies who had undergone identical breast surgeries. One came into the office the next day dressed nicely with makeup on and a smile on her face. She was very sore and uncomfortable, but chose to enjoy the day anyway. The next day the other lady came in literally pushed in a wheelchair by her husband. She was wearing a robe and slippers, and she moaned and groaned like she was dying. Both patients ended up with excellent results, but it’s obvious that one had a pleasant recovery and one did not. We choose our attitudes every day, sometimes in spite of what is happening to and around us. Your frame of mind and perspective can actually affect the level of pain you experience. We can make ourselves sick, and we can make ourselves hurt, just by using our brains and minds destructively. This is a good lesson to learn for every day life—not just for the day after cosmetic surgery.