Doctor's hands wearing gloves drawing correction lines on a woman's face while giving her tips about the plastic surgery healing process

How To Use Medical Nutrition To Support the Plastic Surgery Healing Process

We want your upcoming plastic surgery procedure to cause excitement, not stress. While all surgical procedures require downtime and healing, the plastic surgery healing process can be sped up with the help of medical nutrition. 

First and foremost, if you want to realize your final results as soon as possible, you will need to follow the directions of your surgeon - and very carefully. We know that you want to reveal your new features to the world right away. But when it comes to plastic surgery recovery, patience is key. 

And some stages of recovery simply can’t be skipped.

So, we’re going to talk about just that, the healing process. Specifically, how to keep swelling and discomfort to a minimum, making your plastic surgery healing process as quick as possible with medical nutrition. 

While you may want to consult with a registered dietician or nutritionist about your post-op recovery process, we can answer your most urgent questions - and share a few things you can do yourself to promote a faster plastic surgery recovery. 

Questions like:

  • What is medical nutrition therapy? 
  • How does nutrition help plastic surgery recovery
  • What does the plastic surgery healing process entail in the first place? 
  • Is there anything I can do to make the wound healing process go faster?

Before sharing our plastic surgery recovery tips, let’s go over what you can expect from your procedure and post-op healing process.

What does the plastic surgery healing process look like?

Every patient and cosmetic surgery procedure is different, but there are still some general timelines you should expect your plastic surgery healing process to follow. 

Here is what to expect:

The first 24 hours after surgery

For the first 24 hours after surgery, you’re going to be out of it, and possibly nauseous from your anesthesia. You will want someone there to look after you, bringing you food and water and anything else you need. 

The doctor should give you advice on how to ice the affected area and take your prescription pain meds. You should follow their advice carefully to reduce pain and swelling. Remember that any surgery requires making an incision - and that’s technically a wound. Healing it will include some discomfort and likely swelling (even if minimal).  

The first week after surgery

You will want to take it easy for the first week after most plastic surgery procedures. Even if you were able to go home right after surgery, most people take the week off work and make sure a friend or family member is nearby to assist. 

For this first week of the plastic surgery healing process, you will likely experience some pain, bruising, and swelling. 

Follow your surgeon’s wound care instructions carefully, apply new bandages, ointments, and take medications on time. You may also want to take some supplements to reduce swelling after plastic surgery during this time, when swelling is at its peak.

You may also be encouraged to start a slow walking routine to keep your body gently active. Don’t skip this step - it’s important for wound healing, and to help you get back into your normal routine faster.

The second week after surgery

Swelling and bruising around the incision and affected area will still be present, but you will probably start to feel better in the second week following surgery. 

If your plastic surgery recovery is going especially well, you might be tempted to skip over a few steps of your surgeon’s wound care instructions. Again, stay the course and your future self will thank you.

Your surgeon will most likely schedule a follow-up appointment during the second week of the plastic surgery healing process, and you may be cleared to go back to work. You should still avoid aerobic and vigorous exercise this week to decrease your risk of bleeding and swelling.  

Three weeks after surgery (and beyond)

Three weeks into the plastic surgery healing process, your bruising and swelling will probably start to subside. Depending on the plastic surgery you had, you may have very little bruising left at all!

You may feel more energetic and ready to resume more normal activities. A surgical incision usually takes about two weeks to heal, so it’s important to be cleared with your doctor before trying to lift anything heavy or return to your usual exercise routine. 

In most cases, you will be able to resume contact sports or weight lifting around six weeks after your procedure. 

Plastic surgery recovery time for common procedures

How long the plastic surgery healing place takes from start to finish will depend on both your biology and the procedure you have done. Your incision sites will take the longest time to fully heal, with scars contracting, remodeling, and fading over a 12 month period. 

In general, here is a guideline of what to expect for some common cosmetic procedures: 

Rhinoplasty (nose job)

  • Remove splint: After 5 to 7 days
  • Return to work: After 7 days
  • Return to normal activity: After 3 weeks
  • Swelling & bruising: Will reduce after 10 to 14 days (with residual swelling for up to a year)

Final results: After 1 year


  • Remove sutures: After 7 to 10 days (then you can resume wearing makeup)
  • Return to work: After 7 to 10 days
  • Return to normal activity: After 2 weeks
  • Swelling & bruising: Peaks after 48 hours and subsides over 2 weeks

Final results: After 3 to 6 months

Blepharoplasty (eyelid lift) 

  • Return to work: After 7 days
  • Return to normal activity: After 4 weeks
  • Swelling & bruising: Will reduce after 7 to 10 days

Final results: After 3 to 6 months

Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL)

  • Return to work: After 10 to 14  days
  • Resume sitting and laying on back: After 2 weeks 
  • Swelling & bruising: Peaks after 1 week and subsides over 4 to 6 weeks
  • Remove compression garments: After 4 to 6 weeks
  • Return to normal activity: After 8 weeks

Final results: After 6 months


  • Return to work: After 1 to 3 days
  • Return to normal activity: After 1 week
  • Swelling & bruising: Peaks after 1 week and subsides over 4 to 6 weeks
  • Remove compression garments: After 4 to 6 weeks

Final results: After 1 year

Breast augmentation

  • Return to work: After 3 to 5 days
  • Return to normal activity: After 3 to 6 weeks
  • Swelling & bruising: Peaks after 24 to 48 hours and subsides over 2 to 3 months
  • Resume wearing underwire bra: After 4 to 6 weeks

Final results: After 3 to 6 months 

Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)

  • Remove drains: After 1 week
  • Return to work: After 2 to 4 weeks
  • Return to normal activity: After 2 to 4 weeks
  • Remove compression garments: After 6 to 8 weeks
  • Swelling & bruising: Subsides after 2 to 3 months (with residual swelling for up to 18 months) 

Final results: After 4 to 6 months

No procedures are exactly the same. Your healing journey after plastic surgery will be a very personal experience. That being said, turning to medical nutrition could help you greatly reduce your body’s natural healing time. 

So, what is medical nutrition?

Medical nutrition, also known as medical nutrition therapy or nutritional counseling, is a specialized diet or nutrition plan used to assist in medical conditions, illnesses, and injuries. Medical nutrition is usually overseen by a registered nutritionist or other health professional. 

This is a type of therapy that is tailored to your individual needs after an assessment of your health condition and/or the medical procedure you’ve undergone. This custom nutritional therapy may include the use of nutritional supplements alongside an individualized, post-surgery diet plan

Health professionals most commonly recommend medical nutrition therapy for diabetes, heart disease, or wound healing after surgery. So, you may not think nutrition would play a big role in your plastic surgery healing process.

But the right diet and supplements could make all the difference in wound healing post-op. Not only can they help speed up your post-surgery recovery time, but they can also help reduce swelling, reduce water retention, minimize or eliminate post-surgery weight gain, and decrease the appearance of scars - a high priority for cosmetic surgery.

How can medical nutrition speed up the plastic surgery healing process?

No matter what type of surgery you’ve had, your body is in the process of healing. A nutrient-dense, post-surgery diet can help with healing and pain reduction. Plan to stock your pantry and fridge with foods that contain plenty of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory foods, and high-quality proteins, such as collagen protein (which also promotes healthy, glowing skin!). 

As we mentioned above there are also a variety of supplements you can take to speed up the plastic surgery healing process and reduce swelling.

Some doctors may even recommend that you start this healthy diet and medical nutrition therapy before your surgery. This way, your body will be in perfect form to handle your procedure the moment you walk through the door. 

Let’s look at some simple changes you can make to your diet and routine before and after surgery to help ease you through the healing process. 

Medical nutrition before plastic surgery

To ensure your body has all the nutrients it needs for the plastic surgery healing process, it’s important to start eating a high-protein diet well before your procedure. Protein is essential for the creation of new blood cells and muscle fibers, as well as building a strong immune system. 

Try to add more lean protein sources to your diet, like fish, turkey, chicken, eggs, tofu, nuts, quinoa, beans, or low-fat yogurt. You can also add collagen protein supplements to your morning or nighttime routine to ensure you are reaching your daily protein needs (which you can calculate here).

Collagen is the building block for all your connective tissues, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and skin. Collagen protein helps reform your wounds and improve your skin elasticity - which are both important things after a cosmetic surgical procedure!

To get the most out of the collagen wound healing benefits, it’s best to start boosting your body’s collagen levels well before your procedure, especially because your own natural collagen production decreases with age. 

If you are over 26 and undergoing plastic surgery, your body will need the extra supply of collagen protein!

In addition to collagen, you can eat fruits and vegetables high in vitamin A, vitamin C, selenium, and manganese to help eliminate free radicals that can cause tissue damage and slow your healing process. Kale, spinach, citrus fruits, banana, green bell peppers, cabbage, and mushrooms are all good options. 

Some foods to avoid before plastic surgery include anything with refined carbohydrates like white flour and white rice, and anything high in salt or sugar content. All of these can increase inflammation and suppress your immune system, so it’s best to eliminate them from your diet for a whole month prior to your procedure. 

It’s also best to steer clear of eggplant, garlic, potatoes, tomatoes, cayenne, green tea, ginger, and flaxseed for a week before surgery as these can interfere with blood clotting

Finally, alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and some vitamin and herbal supplements should be avoided for the week leading up to your surgery as well. 

Medical nutrition after plastic surgery

Any kind of surgery is a stress on the body, and that stress often interferes with digestion. 

You’ll want to avoid vitamins and most herbal supplements - unless they are a part of your post-surgery care plan. Instead, stick to soft and easily digestible foods for the first 72 hours of the plastic surgery healing process. Yogurt, applesauce, and chicken broth can all be great, gentle options to start with.

To help the plastic surgery healing process go as smoothly as possible, it’s best to continue avoiding sugar, caffeine, salt, alcohol, and refined carbs as much as possible for at least a month after your procedure. 

Once you begin to feel a bit better, it’s important to focus on foods that are high in monounsaturated fats or antioxidants. These foods have anti-inflammatory effects that will help to reduce the swelling that follows your procedures. 

Some examples include:

  • Avocado
  • Almond butter
  • Olive oil
  • Blueberries 
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Cherries

In order to give your body the raw materials it needs to rebuild and heal, it’s also important to keep up your protein intake. Once the first 72 hours of recovery are over, and you have been cleared by your surgeon, you can return to supplementing with collagen protein. 

A nano-hydrolyzed collagen protein like ProT Gold will be the most gentle on your stomach and digestive system, as it’s been broken down into its smallest form (more on that in a bit). If you use high-quality collagen protein, you may even be able to cut your healing time in half. 

Collagen can be used as both a supplement and a topical wound dressing - and it may have been a part of the wound care solutions your doctor used during surgery. That’s because collagen attracts more fibroblasts to your incision sites, which are the main connective tissues in your skin. This helps speed up the production of new blood vessels and, in turn, promotes new tissue growth.

Collagen can also aid in wound debridement, and help keep inflammation to a minimum. 

In short, the right collagen supplement may not only help you heal faster, but could increase your comfort levels in the process.

But how do you know what type of collagen to take for wound healing?

The best type of collagen for post-surgical healing

When looking for the best collagen supplements to aid your plastic surgery healing process, you should search for hydrolyzed collagen supplements (also known as collagen peptides) with no additives like sweeteners or preservatives.

As we mentioned, hydrolyzed collagen has gone through the chemical process of hydrolysis to break down the collagen molecules and make them easier to digest and direct toward wound healing. 

But you shouldn’t stop there. Look for medical-grade collagen too, which has been proven to be beneficial for use after surgery. 

Wonder how collagen is made or classified as “medical grade?” 

It goes through a strict lab testing and third-party inspections to ensure the quality and integrity of the supplement. There is actually a measurable standard for medical nutrition products and supplements. While many companies can talk about the general benefits of collagen peptides, collagen products can only be labeled as “medical grade” if they are offered by an establishment operating under a physician’s license. 

Additionally, while the FDA does not regulate the safety of most collagen supplements, medical-grade collagen is specifically designated safe for human consumption.

If you are looking for the best collagen products to support your plastic surgery healing process, look no further. ProT Gold is trusted by almost 4,000 medical facilities throughout the US, where it’s used for medical nutrition therapy and faster wound healing. 

ProT Gold offers both powder and liquid collagen protein that is certified medical-grade, and nano-hydrolyzed for the best bioavailability. Easy to digest in just fifteen minutes, our collagen products are a great aid when it comes to supporting and speeding up the post-cosmetic surgery wound healing process.