Preparing for plastic surgery can be scary, whether you’re the patient or the caregiver. The following 10 tips are meant to augment (not replace) your plastic surgeon’s information to make your surgery and recovery flow smoothly. The better prepared you are, the more likely you’ll be happy with your outcome. Ready? Let’s start!
1. Address How To Dress
On the morning of the Big Day, as you’re searching for what to wear, imagine you had to dress another adult all yourself. What clothing would you want them to have? That’s what you should wear. Here’s a suggestion: wear a loose front-opening shirt, pants with an elastic waistband, and comfortable, non-lace-up shoes without heels.
2. Do Chores Before
Clean your house thoroughly before your surgery, especially if you’re a compulsive housekeeper. For some procedures, a simple chore like vacuuming can result in a tear or a bleed, resulting in emergency surgery. Pretend you’re a queen or king after surgery, and act like one. Either enlist helpers (spouses and children are good options) or wait to clean the carpets and dirty laundry when your surgeon gives you the green light.
3. Enrichin’ the Kitchen
Stock your kitchen with plenty of fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors, along with good sources of protein. Surgical wounds require vitamins, minerals, and protein to heal. If you’re ambitious, cook dishes before surgery, and freeze them for afterward.
4. The Need to Read
Read all your plastic surgeons instructions thoroughly, and have your caregiver do the same. Write down questions to ask your surgeon before the day of your surgery. If this list contradicts what your surgeon says, disregard my advice!
5. Don’t Ignore Number 4
It’s tempting to cut yourself a little slack with some of the instructions. (Who wants to turn into a couch potato?) Here’s the thing: Your plastic surgeon prepared the list of do’s and don’ts not to punish or deprive you, but to give you the best shot at a great result. Complication rates are much higher in patients who don’t follow instructions. In some instances a preventable complication can lead to a poor result that may not be amenable to improvement. Undoubtedly you expect your plastic surgeon to do everything possible to give you the best results; expect the same from yourself.
6. Send Regrets To Your Pets
Close contact with pets can cause infections, so don’t let them sleep in your bed. I know, I know, it’s hard to say no, but take the long view: It’s your final result that’s at stake.
7. Fingernails Leave Trails
Please don’t touch your incisions with your fingernails. Even well groomed nails are crawling with germs, and touching, scratching, and picking can lead to infections. When changing your dressing or otherwise caring for your incisions, wash your hands before and after, and wear gloves around open wounds.
8. Education about Medication
Prescription pain pills usually contain both a narcotic and acetaminophen (Tylenol). Narcotics cause constipation, so take a stool softener, or you may regret it later. To avoid nausea and vomiting, eat something before taking the pills, even if it’s just a couple of crackers. Take no more than the prescribed amount of pain medication. If you do take more, the acetaminophen can build up to levels that are toxic to your liver.
9. Time is Sublime
Most plastic surgical procedures take three to six months to heal completely, and scars take even longer to mature. If you’re concerned about the outcome, discuss the specifics with your doctor. Your plastic surgeon can give you an idea of whether or not you’re healing as expected. Results are impacted by the trauma of surgery (which is temporary), anatomic variability, infections, and swelling, among other things. Expect scars to be pink for the first several months.They take time to fade and flatten. If they start to thicken, talk to your plastic surgeon.
10. Call, Don’t Stall
If you have a routine question, call during normal business hours, but if you have a serious concern after-hours, call your plastic surgeon. He or she would rather hear from you on Saturday morning than discover a worsening problem on Monday.
I hope these ten items prove to be useful to you, especially if you’re scheduled to have plastic surgery. Should you think of something I’ve overlooked, I’d love it if you would please leave a comment below. Here’s to a five-star plastic surgical experience!