Plastic Surgery Recovery & Aftercare Tips for Faster Healing
With the right preparation and aftercare, your plastic surgery can be an incredibly positive and transformative experience. Cosmetic surgery can make you look and feel fantastic, but it’s important to remember it’s still a surgery - and a proper plastic surgery recovery plan is paramount.
But how long is the recovery time for plastic surgery procedures? What should you eat after plastic surgery? And how can you make your plastic surgery recovery time as short as possible?
If you’re concerned about surgery recovery, you’re not alone. Surgery, elective or otherwise, is a trauma to your body, and you can’t expect to bounce back to normal right away. That being said, there are plenty of things you can do to help speed up your recovery, and make your post-op journey as smooth as possible.
How long does plastic surgery recovery take?
The recovery time for plastic surgery procedures can vary greatly from patient to patient, and the recovery timeline will look different for a rhinoplasty versus a BBL. You should expect to take off at least a week of work, but some procedures, like tummy tucks, could have you out for up to a month.
It’s important to discuss the timeline of your post surgery recovery with your surgeon. They can give you realistic expectations for your recovery process.
In general, you can expect to feel the most discomfort during the first 3 to 4 days, which your prescribed pain medication will help with. Your surgeon may advise you to limit exercise and to forego makeup for the first 10 days after facial surgeries.
The initial bruising and swelling should last 7-10 days for eyelid surgery. Expect 10-14 days for rhinoplasty, face lifts, and neck lifts, and 2-3 months for breast augmentation, tummy tucks, and other body contouring procedures.
Some procedures, like tummy tucks and rhinoplasty, can have residual swelling for up to (or over) a year. Being sure to follow proper plastic surgery recovery tips is important to reducing that timeline.
Your incision sites will take time to heal, but the marks should contract, smooth, and fade over the course of a year.
Luckily, with proper medical nutrition supplements and careful planning, you may be able to cut your healing time in half.
10 tips for swift and smooth plastic surgery recovery
Whether you’re getting a face lift, breast augmentation, BBL, or rhinoplasty, a good plastic surgery recovery plan can make all the difference in your experience. With the right aftercare, your time off work might even be enjoyable!
As the creators of certified medical nutrition products, we know a thing or two about medical nutrition and wound healing. That said, we are not doctors, and this is not medical advice. You should always consult with your surgeon before making any changes to your diet or routine.
Based on extensive research and our expertise in the realm of medical nutrition, here are our top tips for smooth surgery recovery and fast wound healing.
1. Prepare your recovery space
When you get home from your procedure, you’ll probably want to plop straight into bed. You’re not going to want to deal with rearranging anything, and you’re certainly not going to appreciate reaching up to the top shelf after your breast augmentation.
As such, it’s important to prepare a conducive space for your plastic surgery recovery - before your procedure. This space will ideally be on the first floor and close to a bathroom.
Fill your bed or sofa with soft pillows and blankets. If you’ve had facial plastic surgery, you will want to keep your head elevated, so plenty of comfortable pillows are a MUST. Pillows can also help to position your body in a more comfortable way after breast and body contouring procedures.
Place water, ice packs, medicine, and other essentials at your bedside for easy access. You may also wish to keep books, a tablet, or other forms of entertainment within reach.
If you have items stored up high or down low in the bathroom, closet, or kitchen, try to move them to easy-to-reach counter spaces. This way, you can limit your reaching and ducking during the early stages of cosmetic surgery recovery.
2. Set up your support system
You’re going to be very drowsy after surgery, and you will need a caretaker to take you to and from your appointment. It's a good idea to inform your friends and family about your procedure to make sure you have a support system in place. Help with cooking, cleaning, or doing other tasks during the first 2-3 days after surgery is highly recommended.
A service like TaskRabbit can help you connect with people who are will run errands, clean, take care of pets, and do other tasks around the house. And you can coordinate food deliveries with apps like GrubHub and Door Dash.
3. Put together a plastic surgery recovery kit
Your plastic surgeon might give you a comprehensive plastic surgery recovery kit as part of your procedure, but if they don’t, it’s important to make one. We recommend asking your surgeon for helpful products for your specific procedure. Some good things to include are:
Bacitracin - to keep your wound free of bacteria.
Gauze and tape - to change your dressings as directed.
Nasal saline spray - a life-changer after rhinoplasty.
A hydrating lip balm - after rhinoplasty, you can expect to be congested for up to two weeks. A lip balm will help keep your lips from chapping when you breathe through your mouth at night.
A washcloth - you will have to keep your bandages dry, so washing your face or body might look a little different at the beginning of post-surgery recovery.
Medical-grade sunscreen - to protect your incision sites once the bandages come off.
- Arnica montana and bromelain - to help prevent bruising.
- Silicone strips - to improve the appearance of scars after tummy tucks or breast augmentation.
4. Cut out smoking and vaping
You may think this is drastic, but we can’t stress this point enough: nicotine use slows wound healing and increases your risk for complications during plastic surgery recovery.
If you’re a smoker, you should try to quit a minimum of 4 weeks before surgery, and abstain from smoking a further 4 weeks into plastic surgery recovery. Remember, you’re getting this surgery to look and feel better. Nicotine can completely derail those plans.
Who knows? Maybe this is your chance to kick the habit altogether. New look, new you.
5. Follow your doctor’s instructions to a “T”
Any side effects are most likely to occur right after your operation. Because of this, it’s very important to follow your surgeon’s post-op instructions closely. If you don’t understand an aspect of the post surgery recovery process, please ask questions and clarify with your doctor.
Many normally safe products can be dangerous or detrimental after plastic surgery. These include anti-inflammatory foods or drugs such as ibuprofen, turmeric, and green tea, which may increase your risk of bleeding. Other medications or supplements might interact with your anesthesia or pain medication. Your surgeon should give you a list of things to avoid.
They will also give you a list of things you SHOULD do, like wearing a compression garment after body contouring, or a supportive post-op bra after breast augmentation. These garments will help remodel the tissue and remove excess water retention, and it’s important to wear them exactly as instructed to see good results from your surgery.
6. Keep moving around
During the first few days of your plastic surgery recovery, it might be tempting to stay in bed all day, but this will prolong your healing process. Gently getting your body moving may help it heal and can even reduce your pain levels.
Though it's important to take it easy the first 48 hours after surgery, light movement may be helpful. You should stand up, stretch a bit, and walk around the house for a few minutes to keep your blood flowing.
Consider setting a timer for every hour to remind yourself to move around.
In the middle of cosmetic surgery recovery, you might feel anxious to get back to the gym. However, strenuous activity and heavy lifting should not be resumed until cleared with your surgeon. It’s important to avoid challenging exercise for at least a few weeks after surgery, as elevated blood pressure can increase bruising and inflammation - or even re-open your incisions.
7. Stay hydrated
It’s important to drink plenty of water during plastic surgery recovery. Prescription pain pills can cause constipation, which no one wants to deal with on the best of days. In addition to helping keep you regular, drinking water can flush out toxins and promote cell regeneration by bringing healing nutrients to your wound site.
Caffeine-containing drinks like coffee, tea, and soda can have a diuretic effect on the body, which can harm your hydration levels. It’s best to drink these in moderation (or not at all) during plastic surgery recovery, following the advice of your surgeon closely.
It’s best to avoid sports drinks as well, since they are high in sodium and can cause water retention - which can increase swelling.
If you don’t like drinking water, you can make it more enticing by adding fresh lemon, lime, or cucumber to your water for flavor. You can also drink some coconut water, as long as you alternate it with glasses of regular water.
8. Minimize your sun exposure
During plastic surgery recovery, you should try to avoid the sun as much as possible. That’s because new and healing skin is more susceptible to sun damage. Sun exposure can prolong the healing time of your scars and even cause excess swelling.
On top of that, new scars don’t tan the same way the rest of your skin does, so any lines left after your procedure will become more pronounced. Plus, too much sun can dehydrate you, which is the opposite of what you want during plastic surgery recovery.
In short, use sunscreen, try to limit sun exposure, and wear a hat and sunglasses when you go outdoors.
9. Eat a diet that supports wound healing
If you want to know what to eat after plastic surgery, there is no specific post surgery diet. Right after surgery, you may need foods that are gentle on an irritated stomach. Anesthesia and pain medication can make some people nauseous, so stocking stomach soothers like bananas, rice, crackers, and applesauce is a good idea.
You should also avoid turmeric and Omega 3 fatty acids right after surgery, as they can interfere with blood clotting. This is why these are some of the foods to avoid before plastic surgery.
That said, after at least two weeks of healing, both turmeric and Omega 3s are great as supplements to reduce swelling after plastic surgery.
Once you feel up to eating more regularly, you should strive for a nutritious, high-protein diet to help speed your recovery. Fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains are key to your body’s healing process.
In particular, foods that are rich in collagen protein may help promote faster healing and better results. Collagen protein is one of the main building blocks of your body. It helps provide structure to your skin and connective tissues - so it’s incredibly important for healing your wounds after surgery.
In fact, collagen protein may help you heal from surgery up to two times faster, which is why doctors use collagen for wound healing so frequently. To understand how crucial collagen is for your body, you can read through our complete guide to collagen peptide protein.
While it’s great to get collagen from your food, it’s also hard for your body to digest collagen protein in its whole form. That’s why we suggest collagen supplements to get the most benefit during your plastic surgery recovery.
10. Use collagen supplements for faster wound healing
The best way to get more collagen in your diet is through a hydrolyzed or nano-hydrolyzed collagen supplement (also known as collagen peptides). These supplements are specially formulated for easy absorption, so your body can get the most benefits for wound healing.
The liquid collagen protein at ProT Gold is a proven medical nutrition product trusted by doctors and hospitals all around the US.
How is collagen made differently to be certified medical-grade?
Medical-grade collagen undergoes rigorous testing for safety and biocompatibility. These tests are conducted by the FDA. There are also further inspections of the manufacturing facilities, and when the product is sold, it must be done under the supervision of a medical director.
Our medical-grade collagen supplements are test, certified, and trusted by almost 4,000 medical facilities for daily use. Ask your doctor about our nano-hydrolyzed collagen products today to see how they could aid your plastic surgery recovery.