You saved your money. You decided to go for it. The surgery is scheduled.
The day arrives. You’re excited. You are eagerly anticipating your ‘new’ breasts and tummy. All goes well with the surgery.
Finally, the bandages are removed…
Holy cow! You are in shock and speechless. You don’t remember seeing scars like this in the ‘after photos’ your doctor showed you.
This happens all too often. Patients’ expectations are not fully met as they oftentimes do not prepare themselves for what to expect after surgery and during the recovery period.
Anyone contemplating cosmetic surgery should discuss all of the pros and cons with their doctor as well as the recovery time and potential for scarring.
Bottom line-scars will never fully disappear. However, they can be minimized and faded with proper post-surgical care.
Although the recovery time and healing process will vary from procedure to procedure and from person to person, there are a few tips that are recommended:
- Follow your post-op instructions. After your procedure, you may still be groggy. Make sure your caretaker receives your instructions for optimal healing. For instance, it is important to ask when it is ok to bathe, what you can expect in the next few days/weeks, and if any specific wound care (i.e. drainage) is necessary. Make sure to follow your physician’s instructions and ask all pertinent questions about the daily care of your wound before you leave the surgical facility.
- Take your antibiotics. Most doctors will prescribe an antibiotic post-surgery to reduce the chance of infection. Follow the directions and take as indicated.
- Don’t wait for your pain to be debilitating. Chances are, your doctor will prescribe some sort of pain reliever. Take it. Don’t try to bite the bullet. These medications were prescribed to provide you with comfort and to make your healing process more bearable. Take them as directed. Call your doctor if you continue to experience pain despite taking your pain medications.
- Don’t just lie around. It’s important for the circulatory system that you get moving after surgery. Moving around helps to reduce swelling and will also help to prevent any blood clots from forming that can be dangerous to your health. If you’re recovering at home, take a small walk to another room in your house a few times a day. Just get up and get moving!
- Wear support. For tummy tuck patients, your abdominal muscles have just been cut and tightened so wearing a support garment or abdominal brace will help. For breast augmentation patients, your breasts will be wrapped in gauze and/or elastic bandages to help minimize swelling.
- Keep hydrated. It’s important for your body to flush out toxins after surgery. Drink plenty of water (about 8 ounces a day) to help your body cleanse and heal.
- Tummy tucks. Your scars will look their worst in the first 3 months after surgery. They will look dark purple-gray in color and be raised. It’s important during this time period to have a good scar treatment system in place. In the days following surgery, ask your doctor about Steri-Strips, which are pieces of medical tape that are placed over your incision to help flatten the wound and promote closure. Once your scabs have healed, ask your doctor about silicone scar sheets. Silicone scar sheets have been shown to help drastically reduce the appearance of scars. They have also been shown to reduce the likelihood of developing overgrowths of scar tissue, known as keloids.
- Breast augmentation. Your breasts will be swollen for several weeks. In the days following the surgery, ask your doctor about Steri-Strips, which are pieces of medical tape that are placed over your incision to help flatten the incision and promote closure. Once your scabs have healed, ask your doctor about silicone scar sheets or a scar fading system that is easy to follow from the convenience of your own home.
Elective cosmetic surgery is something that people decide to do to look and feel better. In order to maximize your happiness after surgery, make sure you follow your post-surgical care instructions, educate yourself, discuss realistic expectations with your doctor, and follow a good scar treatment regimen at home. These steps will help to ensure that you receive the best results possible after your surgery.
With proper care and treatment, your scars will fade so that they can barely be seen. Ultimately, you will be able to show off your ‘new’ body and feel confident in the skin you’re in.
[Editor’s Note: Cosmetic surgery is a personal decision. Make sure to discuss all your questions including realistic outcome and recovery with your doctor. To help expedite the healing process and reduce scarring, consider using a scar fade treatment system.]