Cosmetic surgery can have a wide range of life benefits, erasing some of your most significant aesthetic concerns and restoring your self-confidence. At The Maryland Institute of Plastic Surgery, we have found the most satisfied patients are also the ones who have taken time to educate themselves on everything their desired procedure entails, including both the rewards and the risks.
Part of being an informed plastic surgery patient means learning what you can realistically expect after you go home to recover. While every patient’s recovery experience is unique, there is one thing you can count on: you will swell. If you aren’t prepared for how long the swelling might last, you could become frustrated when the inflammation doesn’t subside in the first day or two or worry that your surgery wasn’t a success. However, there are proactive tips you can follow to reduce your post-surgical swelling.
What Causes Post-Surgical Swelling?
Swelling and inflammation are your body’s natural healing response to any kind of surgery, even cosmetic procedures. Swelling occurs when fluid and white blood cells collect in the area. A secondary cause of swelling is anesthesia, which results in increased fluid in the surrounding tissue.
Though it is perfectly normal, post-operative swelling can initially mask the results, even after the most expertly performed plastic surgery. If you don’t immediately see the improvements you expected when you look in the mirror, don’t get discouraged.
How Long Does Swelling Last After Cosmetic Surgery?
The degree of swelling you can expect depends in part on the procedure you have chosen – for example, facelift surgery often does not result in as much swelling as a breast augmentation or a liposuction. Other factors that affect how long you can expect to swell include how much rest you get and how diligently you follow all aftercare instructions.
Typically, post-surgery swelling peaks around three to seven days after surgery and subsides gradually, with only minor swelling noticeable to others after the first month or two. For some people, it can take as long as a year for their swelling to fully resolve.
If your swelling seems excessive, or you experience pain or redness around your incision sites, it’s vital to reach out to your surgeon as soon as possible.
Ways to Minimize Post-Surgical Swelling
Though swelling is inevitable after surgery as a typical part of the healing process, there are some things you can do to speed your healing process along.
- Stay hydrated: Water helps your blood transport waste away fromthe cells, while supplying them with the nutrients they need.
- Get plenty of rest: Overextending yourself during the recovery process can significantly slow healing.
- Wear all compression garments as directed: The compression garments your doctor gives you are designed to support your new shape as your body heals from surgery.
- Apply ice packs and medications as instructed: Ice can help alleviate inflammation and reduce pain. Use ice for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, with an hour-long interval between applications.
- Elevate, if applicable: Elevating the swollen body part can help speed the healing process. For example, after a facelift, you can sleep on your back with your head propped up slightly.
- Take short walks: You’ll want to gradually start moving around to promote better blood flow. In the beginning, small walks around the house will suffice. Take it slowly.
- Massage: Massage helps prevent excessive swelling and pain, which will make your overall healing from cosmetic surgery much faster and more comfortable. Talk to your surgeon about massage techniques that may be right for you as you heal.
Achieve Your Goals With Cosmetic Surgery
Whether you want to look younger, fitter, or more attractive, plastic surgery can help you reveal your best self and emerge with renewed self-esteem. With the help of our board-certified cosmetic surgeons, you can choose a procedure that benefits you most. Contact us today to schedule your consultation at our offices in Baltimore or Columbia, MD.