After Plastic Surgery, Expect the Unexpected
by Beauty Blogger Emmy Owens
So you’re planning a plastic surgery. You’ve done some research, and maybe you’ve even picked a surgeon and scheduled a procedure date. You’ve given a lot of thought to the recovery period, but have you thought of everything?
Here are a few common — but less well-known — issues that may come up after your procedure.
If you’ve had surgery on your face or neck, as thousands do each year with popular procedures such as rhinoplasty and facelift, you may be surprised that chewing is uncomfortable or even painful for the first couple of days after surgery. This is relatively normal, and how much you experience this effect depends on where your incisions were made.
The best solution for discomfort while chewing is to simply avoid it for as long as you need to. The softer the food, the better — but we know that smoothies and soup can get old fast. Other options include:
- Scrambled eggs
- Cut pasta and macaroni dishes
- Grilled or baked fish, such as salmon
- Rice, risotto, and mashed potatoes
Here’s an excellent recipe book of soft foods for those who enjoy cooking. Remember to keep your diet nutritious while your body heals, and don’t just rely on ice cream.
Ahh, a whole week to relax and catch up on your favorite Netflix series. What could possibly be bad about that? Well, if you’re the restless type, plenty. Even your favorite shows can get old after 4 or 5 solid hours, and boredom is often a contributor to the post-op blues.
If you’re feeling bored, anxious, restless, or sad, don’t bury your emotions in another round of Panda Pop. Talk to your spouse about your feelings or invite a close friend over to help break up a quiet afternoon. When you feel ready (and when your doctor says it’s OK), take a slow, easy walk around the neighborhood. If your employer permits it, try working from home for a couple of hours. Activities that mimic the rhythms of everyday life can combat boredom and other bad feelings to keep you in good spirits while your body heals.
You could also plan some projects ahead of time. Have you been meaning to put a new photo album together? Have you always wanted to try watercolor painting, or knitting, or meditation? There are lots of low-key activities that are a great way to not just combat boredom during recovery, but to actually enrich your life. Think of this time as an opportunity.
No matter what procedure you get, you will most likely have some postoperative medications to take, as well as certain ones to avoid. Although, according to the breast augmentation page of New Jersey plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Herbstman, some exciting innovations can reduce the need for narcotic pain medication, you will still have instructions about prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
Most surgeons write you prescriptions before your surgery so you can pick them up and have them ready to go. Be sure to read all your instructions carefully at this time. Even so, mix-ups are not uncommon when you’re recovering, as you may be a little foggy-headed in the first couple of days after anesthesia.
The solution? Make detailed notes or a medication chart that is simple enough to follow even when you’re groggy. It’s also best to have a designated loved one or helper around to keep track of your medications in those early hours.
Surprisingly, many patients report that the most challenging element of recuperating after surgery isn’t soreness or activity restrictions — it’s sleeping. This is because many different cosmetic procedures require sleeping upright (facelift, blepharoplasty, and other head and neck procedures) or on your back (breast enhancement, including augmentation and reduction). In the long run, these measures improve your safety and comfort; but it may not feel that way when you’re staring at the ceiling after trying unsuccessfully to drift off on your back. Here are some tricks that may help:
- The power of pillows: To maintain your position throughout the night, you may need to get creative. To fall asleep easily on your back, try supporting your arms and legs in addition to your head. Surrounded by softness, you’ll drift off in no time. If you’re sleeping upright, a stack of pillows or even a recliner can be your best friend. Your surgeon may also have some good tips specific to your surgery.
- A bedtime routine: We’ve all heard the advice for better sleep — avoid screens, don’t eat too late, establish a routine. If you don’t normally follow these guidelines, now is the time to start. Put down your phone, laptop, or tablet at least an hour before bed. Avoid heavy meals or spicy or greasy snacks too late in the evening. Stick to a slow, relaxing routine — wash your face, brush your teeth, catch up on a book, and let that melatonin work its magic.
- Start early: Don’t wait for the night of your surgery to change your habits. Start adjusting your routine and sleeping position at least a few nights before your surgery to get yourself used to them. By the time your surgery rolls around, you’ll be a pro at snoozing safely.