3 Stages of Healing after Plastic Surgery


While many patients feel that the hard part is over once they’ve entered the recovery stage, the truth is that an optimal healing process is just as essential for beautiful results as the cosmetic surgery itself. Any wound, whether made surgically or occurring from trauma or injury, goes through three distinct healing stages:

1. Inflammatory Phase

The first phase of healing after plastic surgery is known as the inflammatory phase, and begins as soon as the wound is created. This phase lasts from a few days to a week, and includes redness, swelling and pain at the surgical site, all of which are perfectly normal.

However, if these seem to worsen dramatically or there is a noticeable discharge, be sure to check back with your surgeon.

2. Proliferative Phase

The next stage of healing is called the proliferative phase. This lasts for about a month, during which time the body produces collagen around the edges of the wound, pulling it together into a scar. While the initial pain from surgery will have subsided by this stage, a new feeling of tightness, tenderness or pulling may be present, although improving steadily. Sometimes, sharp pain may be present in bursts, indicating nerve recovery to the area. The scars can be pink and slightly raised during this time.

3. Remodeling Phase

The remodeling phase is the longest of the three stages of healing, covering at least six months after surgery and lasting up to several years. Over this time, the body breaks down the collagen buildup from the previous phase, minimizing the appearance of scars dramatically. New scars are initially thick, red and raised, but transform gradually to thin, white and flat during this final stage of wound healing.

Article by
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon