9 Recovery Tips to Minimize Post-Operative Swelling

Although some degree of swelling is to be expected with any plastic surgery procedure, patients can take steps to limit post-operative inflammation as much as possible. Here are nine great recovery tips patients can follow to reduce swelling after plastic surgery.

1. Rest

Allowing yourself adequate time to heal after plastic surgery procedures such as breast augmentation, tummy tuck, liposuction, facelift, and eyelid surgery should be your top priority. For the first two to three days after surgery, it is common to remain in bed resting for the majority of the day. After that point, patients should try to go for brief walks throughout the day to get the blood flowing and keep your body from getting too stiff. You should refrain from engaging in less strenuous activities such as work and household chores for a week or two after surgery, and avoid vigorous activities such as exercising or lifting heavy items for three to six weeks after surgery.

2. Keep the Head Elevated

Keeping the head elevated above the heart for the first week or two after surgery will stimulate blood circulation and reduce inflammation. If you have undergone plastic surgery, try to sleep in an upright angle for a few days after surgery. This can be done by using pillows to keep the head above the body, or by sleeping in a recliner. If you underwent surgery on your arms or legs, try to keep those areas elevated as well.

3. Wear a Compression Garment or Special Bra

If you underwent body or breast surgery, it is important to wear a compression garment or special bra for several weeks after surgery. Compression garments promote the resolution of swelling, encourage skin contraction, and may lower a patient’s risk of accumulating fluid in the treatment area. Compression garments and surgical bras will help the body conform to its new shape, producing better results in the long-term.

4. Ice the Treatment Area

Icing the treatment area, especially in the 24 hours after surgery, can significantly reduce swelling. It is important to wrap the ice pack in a soft fabric and apply the ice on or around the surgical site. If you underwent nasal surgery, apply the ice to the side of the nose rather than directly on it.

5. Consume a Low Sodium Diet

Sodium increases inflammation. Therefore, consuming a low sodium diet after plastic surgery will decrease the amount of swelling that you experience. Low sodium foods such a yogurt, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean meats should be included in your post-surgical diet.

6. Anti-inflammatory Herbs

Natural herbs such as Bromelain, Arnica Montana, and Quercetin are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, and are commonly used by patients after plastic surgery. Be sure to discuss the use of the herbs with your personal plastic surgeon to ensure that they won’t interfere with any medications you are currently taking.

7. Massage

Light massages on the incision and treatment area can benefit patients by reducing swelling and scarring after surgery. Massage is recommended after many procedures, including breast augmentation, liposuction, and tummy tuck. You can start massaging the treatment area as soon as you feel you can tolerate it; usually within two to three days of surgery. Massage is not recommended after rhinoplasty.

8. Stay Out of the Sun and Heat

Excessive exposure to the sun and staying out in the heat will encourage swelling. In the weeks after surgery, try to stay indoors in a cool environment. This is especially important for patients that undergo facial plastic surgery.

9. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated in the days after surgery will help flush your body of toxins and impurities, and speed the healing process. Be sure to consume eight cups of water each day after surgery.

As always, it is important that you follow your plastic surgeon’s post-surgical instructions.