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

10 Tips To Speed Up Your Plastic Surgery Recovery Process

 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. Multiple factors come into play during the plastic surgery healing process, so there are lots of questions to answer.

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? 

Surgery, elective or otherwise, is a trauma to your body, and you can’t expect to bounce back to normal right away. It’s normal to be worried about how smooth recovery will be, but there are plenty of things you can do to boost your body’s natural ability to heal itself after surgery.  

10 tips for swift and smooth plastic surgery recovery

Whether you’re getting a facelift, breast augmentation, BBL, or rhinoplasty, a good recovery plan can make all the difference in your experience. Make sure you research your options for surgery well before making a decision, and don’t be afraid to switch providers if you need to. 

There are plenty of surgery recovery tips out there, and not all of them are safe. 

Make sure to talk to your surgery team and your general practitioner when adding any new supplements or activities. They’ll be able to tell you which supplements to reduce swelling after plastic surgery will be most beneficial to your health journey, or when to start up an exercise routine again. 

For most people, there are a few general tips that can speed up your plastic surgery recovery, alongside any care that your doctor recommends.

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 your specific procedure might limit your movement. 

For instance, you’re certainly not going to appreciate reaching up to the top shelf after a breast augmentation. 

Prepping a safe, comfortable place to land before your procedure is key here. 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 position your body more comfortably after breast and body contouring procedures. 

Place water, ice packs, medicine, and other essentials at your bedside for easy access. Keep a few quick snacks within reach so you don’t need to worry about preparing anything when you get hungry. Keep chargers, books, and remotes nearby so you can access them more easily. 

For anything you need that’s usually stored up high or down low in the bathroom, closet, or kitchen, keep a few days’ supply on to easy-to-reach counter spaces. This way, you can limit your reaching and ducking during the early stages of plastic surgery recovery. 

2. Set up your support system

You’re going to be very drowsy after surgery, so you will need someone to take you to and from your appointment. 

Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends or family for support, and make sure to have a plan in place before your procedure. Help with cooking, cleaning, or doing other tasks during the first 2-3 of plastic surgery recovery is highly recommended. 

If you don’t have anyone available to help, look into using food delivery and help with your housework for a few days. Getting plenty of rest is important in your body’s healing process!

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 a good idea to make one. We recommend asking your surgeon for helpful products specific to your procedure. In general, some good things to include are:

  • Antibacterial ointment - to keep your wound free of bacteria

  • Gauze and tape - to change your dressings as directed

  • Nasal saline spray - to clear congestion after a rhinoplasty

  • A hydrating lip balm - to soothe chapped lips after a rhinoplasty

  • A washcloth - to help you keep clean while also keeping your bandages dry

  • Medical-grade sunscreen - to protect your incision sites once the bandages come off

  • Arnica montana and bromelain - to help prevent bruising

  • Silicone strips - to reduce scarring at the incision site

  • Quick, high-protein snacks - to give your body the materials it needs for healing

4. Stop smoking or vaping

It’s no surprise that smoking isn’t good for you, and that’s especially true during plastic surgery recovery. Nicotine slows wound healing and increases your risk for complications during and after your surgery.

Try to quit a minimum of 4 weeks before surgery and don’t start smoking again until about 4 weeks after discharge or until cleared by a doctor. 

Talk to your doctor about ways to reduce withdrawal symptoms rather than trying to quit cold turkey, so you can stay strong through your entire recovery process. 

5. Listen to your healthcare team

Any side effects are most likely to occur right after your operation. Make sure to discuss your post-op care instructions with your surgery team, and have a support person there to help, if you can. 

Please ask questions and clarify with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your surgery or post-surgery care. 

Some normally safe products can be dangerous or detrimental during plastic surgery recovery. These include some 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 will be able to give you a list of things to avoid. 

Your doctor may also have suggestions for ensuring good results after your surgery. 

Wearing a compression garment after body contouring, or a supportive post-op bra after breast augmentation can make a huge difference in your plastic surgery recovery. These garments will help remodel the tissue and remove excess water retention, and it’s important to wear them exactly as instructed. 

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. 

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 by your surgeon. 

It’s important to avoid challenging exercise for at least a few weeks during your plastic surgery recovery, 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, and drinking water can flush out toxins and promote cell regeneration by bringing healing nutrients to your wound site. 

The caffeine in drinks like coffee, tea, and soda can dehydrate you more quickly than normal. You may want to drink less or no caffeine during your recovery, following the advice of your surgeon. 

Sports drinks are high in sodium and can cause water retention, which can increase swelling, so it’s best to avoid them, too.

Stick with water or safe herbal teas that have been cleared by your surgeon. You can also explore adding fruits or sugar-free flavorings to your water to keep things feeling fresh.

8. Minimize your sun exposure 

During plastic surgery recovery, try to avoid the sun as much as possible. Your 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. 

New scars also don’t tan the same way the rest of your skin does, so any lines left after your procedure will become more pronounced.  

Being out in the sun for too long can also be dehydrating, so make sure to drink plenty of water, wear sunscreen, and bring a hat or umbrella for any time you spend in the sun after surgery.

9. Eat a diet that supports wound healing

There is no specific post-surgery diet since everyone’s medical history is different. In general, though, some foods can help speed up your plastic surgery recovery. Right after surgery, you’ll want to have foods that are gentle on an irritated stomach. 

Anesthesia and pain medication can make some people nauseous, so keep bananas, rice, crackers, or applesauce on hand, along with a quick and easy source of protein.

There are a few foods to avoid before plastic surgery, as well as while your plastic surgery healing process is happening. Highly processed foods high in sugar, sodium, and fats can worsen inflammation. 

And other foods – like ginger, garlic, flaxseed, Ginkgo biloba, and turmeric – can interfere with anesthesia. Make sure to ask your surgeon for a complete list of foods to avoid pre- and post-surgery.

After at least two weeks of healing, turmeric is safe to introduce again. Turmeric, along with vitamin A, vitamin C, and Omega 3, is one of the best 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 boosting your plastic surgery recovery. 

10. Use collagen for faster wound healing

Collagen is one of the best ways to speed up your plastic surgery recovery. 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. It’s also the very thing your body uses to repair damaged tissue, making it incredibly important for healing your wounds after surgery. 

Collagen protein may even help you heal from surgery up to two times faster, which is why doctors use collagen for wound healing so frequently. 

Doctors may encourage you to incorporate more collagen in your diet, but more often they’ll use collagen peptide protein supplements, sometimes called hydrolyzed collagen. The molecules in these supplements have been broken down so they’re easier for your body to absorb.

When collagen is used in a hospital setting, it’s always medical-grade collagen.

How is collagen made to meet medical-grade certifications? Medical-grade collagen undergoes rigorous testing for safety and biocompatibility. These tests are conducted by the FDA and held to higher standards than non-medical-grade supplements. 

Common questions about the plastic surgery healing process

Everyone’s plastic surgery recovery is unique. Factors like medical history, type of procedure, and age can all play a role in how you heal. Talking with your doctor is always best for any specific questions you have, especially if you suspect you have an infection. 

Common signs of infection after plastic surgery are: 

  • Severe or persistent swelling
  • Worsening or persistent bruising
  • Drainage or pus coming from your incision sites
  • Severe pain or itchiness at the incision sites
  • Fever 

If you have any of these symptoms, speak with your doctor immediately to make sure you get the right treatment. 

Even a normal healing process can leave you with a few questions, though, so let’s take a look at what you can expect during your plastic surgery recovery.

How long does it take to recover from plastic surgery? 

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. 

No matter what kind of procedure you’re having, a wound-healing diet can help with your plastic surgery recovery. A wound-healing diet focuses on getting your body all the nutrients it needs to heal, which can speed your recovery time.

What does the plastic surgery healing process look and feel like?

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 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. Following your surgeon’s instructions and adding in a few proper plastic surgery recovery tips is important to reduce that timeline. 

Your incision sites will take time to heal, but the marks should contract, smooth, and fade within a year or so. Keeping your incision under clean bandages with an antibiotic ointment while it’s healing can reduce scarring. 

You can also incorporate a collagen supplement to help meet your protein needs since a low-protein diet can increase scarring.

How painful is recovery from plastic surgery?

Most people find that plastic surgery isn’t nearly as painful as they expected. The worst of the pain typically only lasts for about 3-5 days. After that, you’ll most likely feel only minor discomfort. 

If your pain suddenly gets worse or stays consistent for more than a week, contact your healthcare professionals. Your plastic surgery recovery will be unique, but if you’re experiencing intense pain, it’s important to make sure you’re still healing normally.

Can medical nutrition make a difference in healing after plastic surgery?

Medical nutrition isn’t just used for plastic surgery recovery, but it can absolutely help you in your recovery. 

During medical nutrition therapy, you’ll meet with a registered nutritionist or other medical professional. They’ll help you determine what your body needs for a smooth plastic surgery healing process, and adjust your diet to include those nutrients. 

Typically, post-surgery medical nutrition therapy focuses on meeting your body’s needs for protein and healthy carbohydrates. You might also want to increase your intake of foods with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Using medical nutrition to speed plastic surgery recovery

Plastic surgery recovery is typically a quick, smooth process. By following the instructions of your healthcare team, and meeting your body’s nutritional needs, you can feel like your best self in no time at all. 

Meeting those nutritional needs can be tough, so make it easy on yourself. A medical-grade collagen protein supplement can help you meet your protein needs in seconds. Along with a healthy diet, this can speed your plastic surgery healing process by giving your body all the materials it needs to heal quickly and safely.