Optimizing Your Recovery After Cosmetic Surgery

surgery roomPeople love what cosmetic surgery can do to enhance their appearance and self-esteem, but nobody looks forward to the recovery period. Maybe you’re worried about pain or not being able to complete your normal activities. You might be concerned about missing work, caring for your children, or even the possibility of gaining weight when you’re not able to exercise. Fortunately, recent advancements in surgical and postsurgical care help to enhance the recovery period — with benefits like less pain, improved mobility and a quicker return to your normal activities.

Advancements in Surgical Techniques

The field of cosmetic surgery is constantly evolving. Several new techniques have been developed that make for a much smoother recovery. The tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) procedure is a great example.

With traditional methods, a tummy tuck requires the use of one or two drains. Drains are plastic tubes that are left under the skin at the surgical site and poke out through the incision or through a small, separate hole in the skin. The drains require special care — you have to empty them, measure the output, and be careful with them during showers and other activities. They also have to be removed by your surgeon.

Luckily, with new treatment advances, we’ve been able to eliminate the need for drains and all the work that comes with them. Instead, your surgeon can now use progressive tension sutures — a method of placing stitches internally during the procedure — so you can now wake up with no drains at all. Best of all, studies have shown that progressive tension sutures actually work better than drains at preventing fluid buildup.

Better Pain Control Immediately Following Surgery

We’ve also made headway in the area of pain control. Over time, we realized that the less pain you have early on (when the pain is usually at its worst), the less pain you’ll experience later in your recovery. Now engaging a new strategy, surgeons are using local anesthetic agents to help with your pain after surgery instead of just during the procedure.

Two particular procedures where local anesthesia can help with recovery are breast augmentations and tummy tucks. In breast augmentation, a local anesthetic can be placed around the implant to help reduce pain for the first few hours. During a tummy tuck, which is known to be one of the more extensive and painful recoveries, your surgeon can use a long-lasting local anesthetic to reduce your pain for 48 to 72 hours.

Post-Surgical Pain Control Using Medications

One of the most significant changes over the past several years is the use of a multimodality pain control strategy. This means using more than one medication or type of pain control to improve your recovery.

In the past, surgeons often recommended you avoid aspirin and ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) after surgery. However, we’ve found that in higher doses, these medications not only provide effective pain relief, they also work to reduce inflammation — something a narcotic medicine (Vicodin and Percocet) can’t do. They also reduce the need to take more powerful pain medications (narcotics) as frequently as was traditionally prescribed. This is especially important because narcotics can cause unpleasant side effects like nausea or constipation, and carry the risk for addiction.

So, it’s now common to use anti-inflammatory pain relievers, narcotics and muscle relaxants in combination to effectively combat your pain. This makes a lot of sense because different medications work in different ways, and their results can be complementary.

Emory Aesthetic Center

At Emory Aesthetic Center, we’re committed to making your cosmetic surgery experience a positive one. Our team of highly skilled surgeons and nurses are happy to answer your questions so you fully understand what you can expect during and after your procedure.

In an effort to make your recovery even smoother, we’ve launched a new program that enables you to remain in the comfort of your own home during your postoperative check. Instead of having to get up and about early on in your recovery, you can simply connect with your doctor or nurse through a secure video system.

About Dr. Eaves

dr. felmont eavesFelmont F. Eaves III, M.D., F.A.C.S., leads the Emory Aesthetic Center as Medical Director. He is double-board certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Dr. Eaves’s leadership is apparent in his impressive accumulation of distinctions. He serves as Director of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the board that certifies plastic surgeons nationally. Previously, he served as President of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery; he is currently a Trustee.


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