Recovery after Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery

Recovery Tips and Wound care after your Major Surgery

Plastic Cosmetic Surgery requires effort during the recovery period to get the best results. Good nutrition, effective wound care, wearing garments, lots of rest and gentle exercise are all vital parts of a good recovery after surgery.

Optimal wound healing after surgery takes significant effort on your part to ensure your body has all the support it needs. The main things to avoid are any form of smoking or vaping poor nutrition or over-stretching the wound. With a sustained effort, you can get a great-looking scar and enjoy a good recovery.

Read the Blogs with Recovery Tips for Specific Surgeries

Post Op Care – Look after your surgical dressings after surgery

Please ensure all post-operative dressings remain intact until removed in the clinic. The dressings chosen are specific to the type of low scar surgery performed and scar reduction relies on the dressings remaining intact for as long as possible. If you feel the dressings are peeling off at any time secure the area with a simple dressing like Elastoplast (if tolerated) and contact the clinic as soon as possible to notify us of your concerns.

All Dr Kernohan’s post-op dressings can be showered. A daily light shower, allowing the dressings to dry via body heat or gentle hairdryer is sufficient.

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How garments help your recovery after Major Plastic Surgery

How long should I wear my post-op garment? The short answer is – as long as possible please. Although it is often annoyingly described as: hot, firm and difficult to put on and remove. It provides vital support to the operative area and surrounding tissue. It reduces unnecessary wound strain on the scar line, supporting the body to focus on wound healing and controls the risk of fluid building up in the surrounding tissue.  For the very best outcome, it is vital that all recommended garments and additional support (Tubigrip) is worn as advised. If you are struggling to wear it or it seems uncomfortable please let us know as other strategies to manage this may be devised.

Good Nutrition is essential for recovery after surgery

It may seem obvious, but eating well helps your wound heal better after surgery. This is not an issue usually when you are healthy and well but can present challenges at times of stress such as following surgery, when the healing process requires greater nutritional support to allow effective and timely healing to take place.

Plan your meal times differently, aim for half the quantity but twice as often. This means spreading out your intake throughout the day. Rather than your usual 3 larger meals increase your opportunity to include breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and supper.

The quantities can be small such as a yoghurt for morning tea or cheese and crackers for supper. A slow and sustained intake allows your body to better utilise the nutrients you are consuming.

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Your Recovery Diet – What should you eat to help Major plastic Surgery recovery?

Increased protein intake is vital to support internal collagen formation , promoting timely wound healing. It helps your body to feel full and gives energy that can be used readily.

Focus your intake on Protein in particular, ensuring every meal opportunity provides some form of protein whenever possible. Suitable foods are lean meats: – fish, chicken, beef and pork, sliced meats, eggs, lentils, beans, mushrooms, low fat dairy products, nuts and seeds.

You can revert to protein shakes as a morning tea or supper option if you wish but it is always better to try to source protein through solid foods if possible.

Vitamin D also enhances wound healing potential. Helpful Vitamin D rich foods include fatty fish (Tuna, Salmon, Mackerel), dairy products, eggs, soy milk and orange juice.

Balance this with fresh fruit, vegetables, and fibre intake.

Vitamin C. You may be aware of the usual citrus foods such as oranges, lemon, lime or grapefruit but have you considered other fruit and vegetable containing high levels of vitamin C. These include Pineapple, Papaya, Mango, Kiwi Fruit, Strawberries, Cantaloupe, Kale, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Capsicum and Cauliflower.

Vitamin C is an important factor in Collagen formation, directly affecting wound healing. Vitamin C is also a natural diuretic meaning it helps to shift that excess post op fluid that your body may be holding on to.

Aim to reduce carbohydrates and sugars to a third of your daily intake or less. These energy-rich foods are not very helpful when your body should be resting and healing as much as possible.

Supplements may also help your recovery after major plastic surgery

A supplement that has been proven to be beneficial to healing is L-Arginate (available as a supplement such as – Arginaid). This works with your body to enhance the natural healing cascade, improving immune response and increasing blood supply to healing tissue.

This naturally occurring Amino acid is produced by the body but in times of stress such as growth, Illness, metabolic stress and wound healing additional supplementation is required. L-Arginate supplements can easily be sourced through health stores or pharmacies and come in a variety of sources from powders, drinks or tablets.

Vitamin D supplements can be taken but it is always better to provide the body with natural intake via food sources rather than relying on an unhealthy diet and supplementation.

Zinc Supplementation. Zinc regulates every phase of wound healing and can be found in any protein-rich food source.

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Why you need to move gently and gradually be more active after surgery

Please maintain gentle daily activities like showering and moving position frequently to feel positive and reduce pressures on your skin tissues. This also reduces the risk of DVT or blood clots.

Continued unrelieved pressure on skin can cause damage and severely affect your healing. When resting, sleeping and sitting please change position frequently. Using soft cushions can allow gentle elevation or support to different areas and reduce the potential of unrelieved pressure. Ask Dr Kernohan’s team for recovery tips and tricks specific to your needs.

As the days progress into weeks additional activities can be included such as one or two gentle short walks. Please note any exercises beyond gentle walking must be discussed with Dr Kernohan or his team to ensure that no unnecessary strain is placed on post-operative wounds.

Take the time to sit outside daily on fine days in a shaded spot. Do not allow sunlight directly to healing tissue/ dressings or patchy permanent pigmentation may occur.

Avoid any heavy lifting until advised by the clinic, seek help from family and friends with any dependant small children you may have to ensure you are not overstraining yourself whilst your body is working hard to heal itself.

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Rest, Sleep and Relax to healing and recovery after Major Plastic Surgery

Ensure your family knows you will be resting quietly at home for a significant period of time during the first few weeks following your major surgery. Please do not commit to any additional stresses at this time when you should be focused solely on yourself and your healing. If you feel well – you heal well.

Adequate sleep is essential to provide the best wound healing post your surgery. Your body needs to be calm and rested. Aim to take a nap each day for the first 10-14 day post your surgery and plan for an early bedtime each night. Emotional stresses need to be kept to a minimum.

Have plenty of pillows available to pad areas of your body to ensure comfort and support. It is generally ok to sleep in any position you feel comfortable in following your discharge from hospital.

Be aware that you are unlikely to sleep through a whole night with unbroken sleep and may still feel tired in the morning. Try a hot milk drink (not coffee or hot chocolate) and pain-relieving medication (Panadol) plus additional prescribed medication if appropriate.

If you do wake during the night and do not fall back to sleep immediately, get up and have a drink of water. Take your pain relieving medication if appropriate (depending on the type and the instructions as per the prescription). Gently walk around the house for 5 minutes then return to bed.

Sometimes a bit of distraction and a position change is all that you need to get back to sleep.

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How to stay regular and avoid constipation after surgery

As with many things increased pain killers can have a negative effect on bowel function. If this is becoming an issue (feeling bloated, nausea or lacking in appetite). Try gentle and gradual solutions

Firstly, up your fluid intake by increasing your consumption of water, soup, hot or cold drinks.

Increase the fibre content in your diet by  consuming  whole-grain foods such as brown rice and brown bread

If you are still struggling consider gentle aperients like Prune juice (from health food stores or your local supermarket) or ask your local pharmacist for help. Make sure they are aware of any other medications you currently take.

Likely products recommended might be: –

  • Lactulose
  • Colloxyl/Senna
  • Fybogel/Movicol/Metamucil.

Nature will eventually work so only add small and gradual changes rather than treating yourself too aggressively with everything then being left with painful cramps or loose bowels.

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The best Major Plastic Surgery results take time and effort

Be patient and positive. Good recovery takes time and effort to get the best results.

Celebrate your new look – Congratulations !

Congratulations on reaching this final stage in your surgical journey – now you can enjoy the results of your efforts.

We are always here to help

Remember to contact us any time you need to. We are here to encourage and support you in any way we can. It is our commitment to you that sets us apart from others. Our whole focus is on you your needs and ensuring your recovery is the best it can be.

Dr Michael Kernohan - Best plastic Surgeon Sydney NSW

Dr Michael Kernohan – Specialist Plastic Surgeon in Sydney NSW

Dr Michael Kernohan is a Sydney Plastic, Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgeon providing a wide range of services from skin cancer to cosmetic surgery for the face, nose, breast and body.

He also offers complex reconstructive procedures following trauma and a range of cancer treatments using the most innovative and up-to-date treatment options.

Dr Kernohan is able to care for both public and private patients and currently has appointments in five Sydney hospitals and has an additional leadership role as Director of Surgical Specialities.

His main clinic is currently located in Campbelltown and he has 4 other locations – Bowral, Liverpool, Surry Hills (city) and new Gregory Hills Clinic opening in late May – servicing patients in Sydney Southwest and Southern Highlands.

Please call on 1300 39 38 99 or Contact us