“How long until I am back to normal?”
This is one of the most frequent questions my patients ask. Simply put, recovery time will vary depending on the complexity and length of a particular surgery. Fortunately there are some things you can do to help your recovery. Here are some helpful tips for a healthy speedy recovery after surgery.
Eat healthy simple meals. Your body need the proteins and nutrients during recovery. It is best to avoid sugary and over salty foods which can make you feel lethargic and bloated. It is important to keep hydrated – drink enough water. Avoid alcohol and excessive caffeine.
As soon as you are able to walk, you should. Gentle walks every few hours will help your circulation and help prevent constipation.
Exercise is good, but don’t overdo it – avoid heavy lifting or vigorous activity for 4-6 weeks after surgery.
REST AND RELAXATION
Work on your beauty sleep – sleep is the best ways to speed up recovery.
Relax. Listen to good music and read a good story or watch an entertaining movie or series to help pass the time.
Don’t stress about your work, studies, family or pets. Prepare a contingency plan for taking care of your responsibilities so you can completely focus on your recovery.
ASK FOR HELP DOING THINGS
You won’t feel up to all your usual activities, like driving and household chores, until you are completely healed. Ask a family member, friend or carer to help you during your recovery.
TAKE YOUR MEDICATIONS
Medications are important after surgery. Take the pain medications and the antibiotics that are prescribed by your surgeon, as directed. Constipation may occur after surgery and can be treated with mild laxatives or stool softeners.
Strictly avoid ANY and ALL supplements (homeopathic, herbal, natural or nutritional) unless specifically cleared by your surgeon. Supplements can cause blood thinning which can lead to bleeding and complications.
Stop cigarette, e-cigarettes, any nicotine-containing products for 6 weeks before surgery and at least 2 weeks after surgery. Smoking is know to delay wound healing and increase the risk of complications.
CARE FOR YOUR WOUNDS
Prevent infection by washing your hands before you care for your wounds. Inspect your wounds, clean them gently and dress your wounds as instructed by your surgeon.
Scar massage can begin once the sutures are removed and your wounds have completely healed. Use scar taping for 3 months after surgery to support and protect the scars. Avoid sun exposure for 6 months, to prevent darkening of the scars.
KEEP YOUR APPOINTMENTS
Have a follow-up appointment within a week of your surgery. Even if you feel fine your follow-up appointment is an essential part of your surgery care. At your first follow up appointment your wounds will be inspected, sutures may be removed and dressings applied. If you are unsure about any aspect of your recovery – ask your surgeon about it.
Having surgery can be daunting, but being well prepared, will make it much easier! If you found this article helpful, and want to find out more about surgical preparation and recovery, have a look at the complete Plastic surgery companion – a patient guide.