Plastic surgery is an important decision – one that can change your life! So, it goes without saying that you want to have the best outcome possible. At Y.E.S, the entire team is dedicated to supporting you leading up to and after your procedure. But, the success of your surgery also depends on you. How? By preparing for the surgery and planning properly for your recovery, your surgical experience will go smoother and therefore will be less stressful overall.
The key to a successful surgery is to be prepared and organized. You’ll want to plan for both the physical and emotional support you’ll need once you leave the surgical centre and make sure that you have everything you need in advance. Even though every procedure is different, there are basic guidelines that everyone can follow to ensure they are as prepared as possible.
Find the Right Support Person:
One of the best resources you can have after surgery is a dedicated caregiver who’ll be with you for at least the first 48 hours. Involve your caregiver right from the beginning and provide him or her with all the information he or she needs to assist you properly during your recovery.
For example, it is important for your caregiver to understand:
- What to expect after surgery
- When to return for post-operative appointments
- Post-operative instructions
- Who to phone for help or questions
- What your specific needs are (i.e. medications, required foods, physical limitations)
Prepare your Body
Living a balanced life that includes a healthy diet and exercise will put your body in peak condition before surgery. The better prepared your body is before surgery, the easier your recovery will be. We recommend increasing your water intake and reducing your intake of junk food, alcohol and drugs prior to surgery.
We also recommend that you start taking a multi-vitamin and a vitamin-C supplement daily to help build up your body’s reserves for optimum healing. *Take a moment to review the ingredients of your multi-vitamin. We recommend that you limit your intake of Vitamin E before surgery to less than 400IU per day as it can increase your risk of bleeding and bruising.*
What to Avoid
During your pre-operative visits, your nurse coordinator will review specific foods, supplements and medications that can work against the body’s healing process and therefore should be avoided prior to your surgery. For example, pain medications such as Aspirin and Ibuprofen thin your blood, which can cause blood loss, swelling and bruising. We ask that you avoid Aspirin and Ibuprofen for 14 days before surgery.
Nicotine can influence wound healing and your response to anesthesia. We recommend that all patients stop smoking and avoid contact with second-hand smoke for several weeks before and after surgery. For some procedures, such as Facelift, Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck), Mastopexy (breast lift), etc., it is mandatory that you stop smoking before booking surgery as the risk of severe complications is considered too high.
Stay Organized to Reduce Stress
Depending on the type of surgery scheduled, your recovery time with vary. It is important to ensure you have enough time off work for your body to recover and if you have children, pets or dependants, that you have someone available to help you during the initial recovery stage of your procedure. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Pick a caregiver that will be able to support you both physically and emotionally during your recovery.
We also recommend that you fill your prescriptions and re-stock your medicine cabinet in advance. Leaving errands like this to the last minute will only increase your stress before surgery, and you don’t want to get stuck without a key item during recovery.
Your surgeon will prescribe pain medications specific to your surgery. Typically, any pain or discomfort will peak between the first and third day of recovery. Make sure that your caregiver is familiar with the medication prescribed and the schedule for taking it. You should use the medication only as often as it is prescribed. Rest, elevation, body positioning and reusable gel ice packs will help keep your comfortable as well. Prescription medications can often have side effects such as upset stomach, constipation, drowsiness and clouded thinking. It is important to only use prescription medication as long as necessary. The sooner you are able to reduce the strength and frequency of these stronger medications, the better.
We recommend you have the following available at your home as well during your recovery:
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Reusable Gel ice packs
- Polysporin Ointment
- Extra Strength Tylenol
- Maalox(oral antacid) or equivalent
Reducing Internal Stress
For all surgeries, it is important to avoid internal pressure or strain. If your body is relaxed, your will be more comfortable, your risk of bleeding and swelling will be reduced and your energy will return sooner.
Even something that seems relaxing, like taking a hot bath or shower, will increase your circulation, causing further swelling and bruising.
Constipation often occurs after surgery because of decreased activity levels and pain medications. Several days before surgery, we will discuss strategies for limiting this discomfort. Occasionally we will recommend a stool softener.
Some patients may experience nausea after surgery. To avoid this, try taking small sips or water or ginger ale for several hours after surgery until you are able to tolerate more. Once you feel like eating, start slow! We recommend avoiding foods high in fat, animal protein and sticking to simple carbohydrates. Taking medications with food also helps ease stomach discomfort, Frequently, patients need to take prescribed anti-nausea medications such as Gravol or Maalox until their appetite and digestion normalized. Different measures are appropriate at different points in your recovery and can be discussed with your surgical team.
Prior to surgery many patients are used to keeping themselves in shape by working out, eating well and staying active. For many of us, our daily lives are an example or constant motion and stress. After surgery, however, it is important to keep activity & stress levels to a minimum. Different surgical procedures will dictate your recovery schedule. Your nurse coordinator will discuss the limitations you can expect after surgery. In many cases, doing too much too soon can have a negative impact on your recovery.
We recognize the fact that everyone would like to get back to normal sooner rather than later. Some early guided activity is essential immediately after your surgery – to diminish the risk of blood clots and improve function of your lungs and digestion. Your nurse will recommend the best activity for you, however, slow walks around the house is a good place to start. If you push yourself too hard too soon, you can create more problems, so always take it slow. Your surgeon will let you know when it is safe to go back to work/exercising at your post operative appointments.
Attending Follow-Up Appointments
During your post-operative appointments, your surgeon will assess your progress and give you further information on what to expect. This is when your recovery rate and activity levels are discussed and tailored to meet your needs. Make sure you’ve organized these appointments beforehand with either your caregiver or someone else who can drive you (to your early appointments).
With some surgeries, such as breast augmentation, tummy tucks and liposuction, you will need to wear a post-operative garment. These garments generally help reduce discomfort, swelling and bruising. It is important to continue to wear your garment until your surgical care team indicates that it is okay to stop.
Taking Care of Yourself Emotionally
It is natural after surgery to feel emotionally fragile. During the first days after surgery, your emotions can range from euphoria to depression. You may initially be thrilled that the surgery is over and you may feel better than expected. You might also feel down due to physical discomfort or because of natural swelling and bruising that occurs with surgery. This rollercoaster of emotions is common following surgery and should not worry you. Planning for this time period is essential. Surround yourself with understanding and caring people to make this transition period easier. Having sufficient support around you will eliminate the tendency to get back to your normal routine too quickly.
Both your body and your mind need time to recover. Your surgical team at Y.E.S. will stay in touch with you often during the first few weeks after surgery to help support you. The desired results from surgery are not immediate and you won’t wake up the next day looking perfect. But if you prepare and plan, the results you want are only a short recovery away.