Pre and Post Surgery Care to Optimize Results
One of the prime concerns of all our patients is what they can do before and after surgery to promote healing. As we all want the most natural result, we want to know what we can do to improve the recovery and healing process and reduce scarring. Although bruising, swelling and scarring is inevitable with most surgeries, there are many things that can be done to minimize these effects –Before Plastic Surgery, During Plastic Surgery, Post Plastic Surgery
Prior to surgery, a lot of our past patients have prepared their body by taking key nutritional and herbal supplements. Many clients have had excellent results taking the homeopathic/herbal supplement “Arnica”, as it reduces swelling and bruising after surgery. This can be purchased from your local pharmacy.
For controlling nausea, headaches or just as a general stress reliever, we suggest some good ol’ peppermint oil. Rub or dab on your temples or reflexology/pulse points or put some on tissue to sniff – it works great.
Body Weight and Diet
One indicator of ideal body weight is BMI or Body Mass Index, which is a ratio of body weight in kilograms to height in metres squared. Normal BMI is between 18 to 25. If your BMI is over 25 you are considered overweight. If it is over 30 you are classified as obese. However if you carry a lot of muscle this marker will be higher and appear to make you ‘fatter’ than you are. A better indicator of excess fat weight is the waist/hip ratio (waist at navel divided by hips at buttocks). For women this ratio needs to be below 0.8 and for men below 0.95. Those who are more than 15kg over the ideal body weight are not good candidates for cosmetic surgery such as liposuction or abdominoplasty. These procedures are designed only for body sculpting after weight loss and are definitely not suitable as a weight reduction method where more than 5 kilos weight loss is required.
Doing surgery on overweight or obese patients will not achieve desired goals and will only result in patient dissatisfaction and a higher chance of complications. Overweight patients should first lose weight to near normal levels to become suitable candidates.
Smoking delays healing, increases risk of scars becoming raised or lumpy and can cause necrosis (death) of both surface skin and of fat lying beneath the skin. In addition, smoking increases the risks associated with anesthesia. These include collapse of lower part of lungs, pneumonia, heart attack, stroke (especially if you’re taking oral contraceptives), deep vein thrombosis plus increased risk of blood clots travelling to lungs. Therefore our surgeons recommend that you give up smoking completely for at least 4 weeks before and 4 weeks after surgery. You should not take Nicorette gum or nicotine patches either for 3 weeks prior to and after surgery.
Whatever treatment that you have, one thing is essential – keep all scars out of the sun! All good surgeons will advise you to do this – it is absolutely necessary for proper scar healing. Exposure to the harmful UV rays of the sun may damage the skin and lead to bad healing. So, bring your sunscreen and a good hat.
Massage and Treatments
If you are considering liposuction, past clients have found it beneficial to get their skin in peak condition, with massages of oils and crèmes. This may also reduce cellulite after your surgery in the hips and thigh regions. A session of Endermologie the day before the operation can also help to circulate the blood and prepare the body for liposuction. Endermologie is an intense treatment for cellulite reduction – if you would like more information, please contact your representative. Lymphatic drainage massage can be extremely beneficial after liposuction. See how this benefits Liposuction below.
The surgeons are aware of a patient’s need to minimize scars, and therefore will do their best to place incisions in inconspicuous places and in the natural creases of the skin.
For breast augmentations, the surgeons almost always recommends the incision under the breast, for a better shape, as well as hiding the scars underneath the breast folds. But other incision options are available – through the areola and under the armpit.
For Abdominoplasties (Tummy Tucks), a long scar is necessary, often from hip to hip, however, the surgeon always plans to place the incisions as low as possible, close to the panty line, so these can be covered with clothing. If you have had a C-Section, then he will try to follow that same scar, so you will be left with no additional scars.
In the case of Facelifts, scars are kept minimal and mostly in the hair line. There will be a small usually imperceptible scar in front of the ears, but with a brow lift, the scars are usually well within the hairline. There will be swelling and bruising around the eyes, and along the jaw line. The surgeon recommends cold ice packs to reduce the swelling, which you can apply several times a day. Frequent short saunas can help relieve the tension of healing skin as well. The length of time of healing after a facelift varies a lot from person to person, the average time of healing for the final result is from 21 days to 3 months.
For Liposuction, there will be a couple of small scars, depending on the extent of your liposuction. These will be red for a couple of months, but then fade and be hardly noticeable in most cases.
Remember it may take a couple of weeks to a couple of months for swelling and bruising to go down and you to feel normal again. Until then you may get different sensations, from numbness to ‘pins and needles’ and soreness in the areas. If there are stray stitches that come to the surface, this is OK as well, just see your GP to get them removed.
If your scarring or results look a little uneven, this could be swelling or bruising under the skin, this is normal and nothing to worry about, it will all go down with time. Some people do take longer than others to completely recover, anywhere between 3-6 months for complete swelling to go down.
Healing is an individual process. The answer lies in our body’s ability to heal – some faster than others, depending on age and general health. Genetic make-up does play a major role in the recovery process, and also the size, position and depth of the wound.
Swelling is unavoidable post-operative but is likely to dissipate from a few days to a few weeks. Bruising is uncommon but varies from patient to patient. Scars are usually hidden under the breast folds, the armpit, or around the areola.
The major swelling and bruising lasts for at least a week. Outdoors, you can wear sunglasses and scarves. It is very important to always apply sun screen to protect the scars from the sun, as they are photo-sensitive after surgery. After a week, the residual bruising and swelling can be covered with makeup, but the final result may not be seen for a couple of months.
After liposuction, you will be recommended to wear a compression garment for a couple of weeks to reduce swelling and bruising. After a couple of days, you may remove the garment for bathing and showering, and during this time, you can gently massage the area with vitamin e crème. This will help with circulation and healing. The small stitches will be removed after about a week. After a week or 2, massaging becomes important to drain the scar tissue underneath the skin. It is also important to drink lots of water to re-hydrate the body, and this will also help with eliminating toxins and reducing cellulite.
We also recommend a special post-liposuction treatment program – specialized machines will detox the areas treated, drain away the fluids, and reduce the swelling. These are very relaxing treatments also, and patients say that they notice immediate improvements. Please ask your representative for more information and for prices.
Even though tummy tucks will leave a long scar, there are many things that can help healing. Swelling and bruising will last a couple of weeks, and expect the scar to look like a fresh incision. Many patients say that this can be helped with silicone crèmes or patches, which your GP can prescribe or pharmacist can recommend.
After a few weeks, the scar will gradually fade, and most people feel back to normal completely after 6 months. People who opt for a tummy tuck will ‘trade off’ the scar for a flatter stomach.
- Scratch, rub or peel skin
- Engage in exercise that results in heavy perspiration
- Swimming (chlorine or salt water may irritate skin)
- Get under direct prolonged sun exposure
- Do exfoliative facials
- Use exfoliative products, toners that contain alcohol or acids
- Moisturize regularly
- Use at least 30 SPF
- Avoid sunlight
Normal reactions include:
- Swelling or redness for 1 or 2 days
- Bronze/tan discoloration for 1 to 2 weeks
- Flaking, dry skin for 1 week
- Acne breakouts (infrequent)
We also encourage you to call the surgeon to ask any questions on any surgery treatments, and also past clients. If you would like their number, please email us: [email protected].
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