After more than thirty-five years as a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, I have identified the Top-10 Tips for Cosmetic Surgery Recovery. Patient preparation for surgery is essential to assure that the post-operative course of recovery for patients is easier and safer. I can’t stress more strongly the importance of patience responsibility in regard to these instructions. Following these guidelines can significantly reduce both pain and risk of complications. Here are my top 10 recommendations for our patients, although it is important for patients to follow whatever instructions their chosen surgeon provides. Surgery by and large is safe. Complications are always an inherent risk, however you can help in reducing post-operative risks by doing these simple recommendations before and after surgery.
• Stop All Aspirin and NSIDs. Both of these drugs affect platelet function in the blood. The result is a reduced ability to clot the blood when tissue is divided in surgery. This can lead to unwanted bleeding and bruising after surgery. These effects last for two weeks. Stop taking these medications two weeks before surgery.
• Take A Shower. Any time you shower, the number of bacteria on the skin is reduced. Taking a shower the night before and the morning before surgery can go a long way in reducing the risk for infection. Regular soap is fine for the task.
• Do Food or Liquids Before Surgery. Eating solid food before surgery is dangerous. It can lead to vomiting during surgery that can result in aspiration. Aspiration pneumonia is very serious and can result in death. Always know the recommendations regarding how long before surgery you need to stop eating and drinking liquids, generally it is 8 to 12 hours before surgery.
• Avoid Health Store Medications. Unfortunately, natural medications can be variable in preparation and strength. Some of them lead to unsafe increased blood pressure during surgery. Excess intake of some vitamins can interfere with clotting. For this reason, consider only taking a single multivitamin for two weeks before surgery. Stop taking other over the counter medications directed by your surgeon. Continue taking prescription pills, as directed by your physician. Make sure you tell your surgeon and your anesthetist all the drugs you have been taking before anesthesia and surgery.
• Stop All Illicit Drugs. Illicit drugs can be dangerous. Their formulation and content is unknown. Their interaction with anesthetic drugs is serious and can lead to death during or following surgery.
• Stop Smoking and Alcohol. The nicotine in tobacco products and in “stop smoking” aids makes blood vessels smaller as a result of its action on the blood vessel muscle. Many plastic surgery procedures (face lift, tummy tuck, breast reduction) reduced blood flow to the skin. The risk of skin loss and bad scarring is increased ten-fold when these two effects are combined. Smoking tobacco or weed also increases the chance of coughing after surgery. Coughing can lead to unwanted bleeding. It is best to quit using these products two to four weeks before surgery.
• Drink A Gallon Of Water. The day before surgery, drink a gallon of water. Drink water before you go to bed. This step will insure you are well hydrated the morning of surgery. It will also make it easier to start your IV if necessary and help stabilize your blood pressure during the anesthetic.
• Arrange To Have Someone Stay With You. The first 24 hours after surgery are critical. You may need help to get around at home after surgery. In addition, emergencies can occur and your safety will be assured by having assistance. Home nursing care is also an option that may be arranged.
• Read All Your Materials. Most physicians give written instruction prior to surgery that provide complete before surgery instructions, after surgery instructions, a list of medications to avoid, and the surgical consent. Go over these instructions a couple of times and make sure you understand everything. If you have questions, call and get them answered.
• Follow All Before and After Surgery Instructions. This bears repeating! When in doubt or unclear about something, contact your surgeon to check or clarify.
Surgery by and large is safe. Complications are always a risk however, and you can help in reducing post-operative risks by doing these simple recommendations. Additionally patients should call their surgeon’s office following surgery to have their questions answered promptly to avoid any confusion, helping patients to achieve a safe and stress-free recovery.