Dr. Kirby's Blog

3 Surprising Tips That Can Lead to a Faster Plastic Surgery Recovery

November 12, 2018 by


There are a few questions I can count on almost everyone asking during a consultation, and “how long will the recovery take?” is certainly one of them. Naturally, patients want the shortest recovery time possible; very few of us can spare any more time than necessary away from work, family duties, and social activities.

As a busy plastic surgeon, business owner, and mother of two, I completely understand the need to get back to normal life as quickly as possible after surgery. At the same time, it’s important not to rush the process. Following your board certified plastic surgeon’s instructions for aftercare and taking appropriate downtime after your procedure is essential to avoiding complications and ensuring you get your desired results.

What you may not realize is that there are a few less well known factors that can make a big difference in how quickly you recover and how well you feel during the early days after surgery. I’ve shared my “insider info” on these below. Whether you are considering a straightforward liposuction procedure or a full mommy makeover, following these three tips can help you enjoy a faster, more comfortable recovery.

1. Choose a plastic surgeon who is efficient during surgery.

Did you know that the longer you are under anesthesia, the longer it is likely to take for you to feel like yourself again after surgery? While anesthesia is safer than ever when performed or supervised by an experienced, board certified anesthesiologist, it is still best to keep a patient asleep for the least amount of time possible to lessen side effects such as nausea, muscle aches, and general feelings of grogginess and disorientation.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons officially recommends that plastic surgeons schedule longer or more complex procedures as early in the day as possible and limit elective procedures to a total of no more than 6 hours in length.

For this reason, I am strict about staying on task during surgery. I do not answer my phone or stop for social media opportunities. I do not leave the room during surgery. I value patient wellness, safety, and results far too much to focus on anything but surgery. I have a fully qualified support team, including a board certified anesthesiologist as well as a certified registered nurse anesthetist monitoring anesthesia at all times. I trust and rely on this team to help me operate without distractions, so patients are in the operating room only as long as necessary.

When consulting with different surgeons, ask how long they estimate your surgery to take, who will be in the operating room assisting with surgery, and what each of these team members’ roles will be. Another good idea is to ask to talk to previous patients who had that same procedure about their surgery and healing time. While every patient’s recovery experience is unique, a pattern of positive reports is a good sign!

I suggest you use caution with surgeons who actively promote themselves via video during procedures. They should be focused on you, not their marketing efforts during surgery.

2. Don’t stay in bed all day. Start taking easy walks ASAP after coming home from surgery.

Many patients are surprised when I advise them NOT to stay in bed all day after surgery. Being too sedentary can be just as harmful as doing too much too soon. Regular movement not only helps keep you from getting stiff and achy, it also helps prevent potentially dangerous complications such as blood clots. Taking slow, short walks and light stretching throughout the day also encourages healthy circulation, which means more healing nutrients are getting to the operated area. Moving your body keeps important systems moving, including your digestive system.

Frequent, yet easy movement is key. You should not break a sweat or breathe hard—these are signs that your heart rate and blood pressure are rising, both of which can slow healing. When stretching, be gentle and take care not to strain your incision sites, which can stretch or open. During the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery, have someone with you to help you get up and sit down, as you will likely be a little shaky on your feet. And of course, follow your board certified plastic surgeon’s instructions at all times.

3. Disclose your full medical history, including all previous procedures you have had, both cosmetic and medical.

An experienced plastic surgeon will often be able to tell if you have had a previous surgery near your areas of concern during a physical evaluation, but surgeries in other areas of the body may escape notice, and many are undetectable in a typical exam. Your surgeon also may not be able to tell the full extent of a procedure unless you tell them.

You may wonder why this is important, thinking “how could my tonsils possibly be relevant to my plastic surgeon?” However, if your doctor discovers something unexpected during surgery it could raise concern or require them to alter your surgical plan in the moment. Either of these situations could prolong your time under anesthesia or require a more extensive surgery.

The same is true for every aspect of your medical history. For example, an undisclosed medication or drug in your system could result in serious anesthesia problems or a difficult recovery.

Be honest with your plastic surgeon about procedures you have had, in addition to all medications and all supplements you are taking. You will not be judged! Provide a list of the dates of any past surgeries and the doctor who performed each, in case we need to contact them for details. Having your complete medical history will help us to prepare the most suitable surgical plan and to be ready on your surgery day.

Considering plastic surgery in Fort Worth? Contact us.

Since the day we opened our doors at Kirby Plastic Surgery, providing patients with the highest standard of care from the first consultation to the final post-op visit has been our top priority. My team and I have carried this commitment with us to our new location in the Shops at Clearfork, which includes a private, state-of-the-art surgery center as well as our newly expanded medical spa, Kalos. If you are looking for exceptional patient care and naturally beautiful results, I think you’ll love what we have to offer at Kirby Plastic Surgery, and I invite you to contact us for a personal consultation.

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