The DOs & DON’Ts of Cosmetic Surgery Recovery = HOW TO RECOVER


Your surgery is done: Yipee! Now onto the second stage which is RECOVERY. View recovery like it’s your job (because it is!) and remember that downtime is temporary. You’ll be back in the gym in no time.

DO take your pain meds for the first day or two.

A lot of patients hate taking pills—and I totally respect that. But even if you’re not in much pain after surgery, pain meds will help you rest comfortably, and rest is key during early recovery. It’s probably fine to switch to Ibuprofen (or take nothing) after the first few days, as long as your surgeon gives you the “okay.”

DON’T drive while you’re taking pain meds or can’t react normally.

You wouldn’t want to be on the road with someone who’s impaired or can’t turn to check their blind spot before changing lanes. Don’t be that person. Get someone else to drive you to your initial follow-up appointments and anywhere else you need to be until you’re off the pain meds.

DO drink plenty of water and get your fiber!

Staying hydrated will help you feel better faster, flushing out the residual effects of anesthesia and helping your body deliver nutrients to healing incisions. It also helps keep post-op constipation (a common side-effect of pain meds) to a minimum.

DO take good care of your incisions

Incision care is key, not just to ensure that your scars heal and fade beautifully, but also to protect you from infection. We’ll provide you with detailed instructions for how to take care of incisions, but here are the biggies:

  • If your incisions are covered with surgical tape, don’t peel it off to take a peek. Leave it in place as long as possible; surgical tape protect your scars from dirt, which can cause infection, and the stress of body movements, which can widen scars. Same deal with a compression garment. Take it off to shower, but wear it to sleep, work, and everything else.
  • Keep your incisions dry. Showers are fine, but baths, hot tubs, and swimming are not allowed for the first four weeks or so, as submersion raises infection risk. After showering, pat your incision sites dry gently with a clean towel.
DON’T do too much too soon, even if you’re feeling better.

Once you start feeling better, you may start getting bored with all the downtime and feel tempted to go full throttle. Easy, tiger! Feeling like yourself again is a sign that your recovery is going well, not that it is finished. Don’t jeopardize your health and results out of impatience—an extra week or two away from your workouts will not hurt your long-term fitness. When you are cleared to resume activities, follow this rule of thumb: if anything hurts, pulls at your incision sites, or doesn’t feel “right,” it’s too soon for that activity. Back off and talk to your surgeon about any concerns before trying it again.

DO stay in touch with your plastic surgeon.

Questions are bound to pop up along the way. If anything concerns you, no matter how trivial it may seem, give your surgeon’s office a call—the last thing we want is for a patient to be unnecessarily worried. Also, make sure you come in for recommended follow-up appointments, even if you think things are going swimmingly. We need to be sure your recovery is going normally; plus, it’s an opportunity to thank your team if you’re pleased with everything.

Happy Recovery!

Dr. Christa Clark

Article by
Sacramento Plastic Surgeon