Your recovery is a vital part of your overall plastic surgery experience. After making the decision to enhance your appearance with aesthetic surgery, carefully following guidelines as you heal can help you to enjoy a smooth recovery and excellent results.

Dr. Nein understands that the days and weeks after your surgery are as important as the procedure itself. His goal is that you go into your plastic surgery procedure prepared for what to expect when you come out. As a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience caring for people, Dr. Nein is invested in helping to ensure you know which steps to take to experience an optimal recovery.

At the pre-operative visit, we’ll schedule a follow-up appointment with Dr. Nein to track your recovery. You’re also encouraged to contact us with any questions you might have at any point along the way.

Initial Recovery

The majority of the plastic surgery procedures that Dr. Nein offers are performed on an outpatient basis and do not require spending the night in the hospital. Depending on your procedure, you may spend 1 to 2 hours in our recovery area immediately after surgery before you return home to relax. You will need someone to drive you home, as it’s not safe to drive after general anesthesia. If you’ve had a general anesthetic, it’s also highly recommended that a friend or family member spend the night with you to provide any assistance you might need.

Supportive Garments

People who’ve had tummy tucks or liposuction procedures may be fitted with an abdominal binder, surgical girdle or other supportive garment. The purpose of the garment is to limit swelling and bruising and to promote healing. Dr. Nein will give you specific instructions as to how long you need to wear your garment. Binders and girdles can be taken off and repositioned for comfort, and should not be tight.

Postoperative Restrictions and Returning to Work

Many people are eager to resume their normal activities as soon as possible following a plastic surgery procedure. Although the amount of necessary downtime will vary based upon the type of procedure and the individual, most men and women are able to return to work within a few days, although some procedures may require 1 to 2 weeks of recovery.

Discomfort, swelling and bruising associated with your procedure will gradually subside over the course of the first several days, and can often be managed with a combination of prescription medication or over-the-counter medicine, and ice/cold therapy. For tummy tuck procedures, Dr. Nein injects a long-acting local anesthetic into the abdominal muscles, which significantly reduces the need for narcotic-based pain medication. You can drive once you’ve stopped taking pain medication.

Activity restrictions also depend on the type of procedure you’ve had, but in general you can expect to slowly ease back into any exercise routines or other activities over the first weeks following your surgery. Although your activity will be limited during the first week of your recovery, it’s important that you move about regularly. Walking around your house is encouraged.

Dr. Nein has compiled a FAQ page that offers specific information about postoperative restrictions and the expected recovery timeline for each procedure.

Nutritional Care

It’s important to stay hydrated during your recovery. Drinking plenty of fluids will promote the healing process and help you feel better. During the first week, you should drink enough so that you’re going to the bathroom at least every 4 to 5 hours.

Good nutrition is vital to your recovery process. Your body needs nutrient-rich food in order to heal. If you were dieting prior to your procedure, do not resume your diet immediately after surgery. Focus on eating foods with high protein content and make sure you’re getting plenty of calories each day. Some people may be more comfortable eating five small meals throughout the day rather than three large ones.

Narcotic pain medication can lead to constipation. Including fiber in your diet as well as using a gentle laxative may help to prevent constipation.

Drain Care

Although Dr. Nein uses the drainless tummy tuck method whenever possible, there are some instances in which a postoperative drain may be necessary. With an extensive tummy tuck or occasionally a breast lift procedure, a drain may be included to aid in your recovery. Drain care is a straightforward process.

Drains remove excess fluid from the surgical area, preventing the buildup of fluids that could limit healing. Dr. Nein most commonly uses the Jackson-Pratt drain, which consists of a small, soft flexible tube that leads from the surgical site through the skin and connects to a small bulb. The bulb applies suction to the drain, drawing the fluid through the tube and away from the surgical site.

The JP drain needs to be emptied 2 to 3 times a day or when half full; whichever comes first. You’ll keep a drain log where you record the date, time and volume of fluid removed from the drain. This information helps Dr. Nein determine when it’s time to remove the drain.

Before you handle the drain, you’ll need to wash your hands thoroughly and put on disposable gloves if available. There are several steps involved in emptying the drain:

  • Step 1: To clear the drain of fluid, grasp the drain tube near the skin with one hand. With your other hand, pinch the drain and “milk” the fluid in the drain towards the bulb. You may need to repeat this step several times in order to remove as much fluid as possible, but don’t worry if you can’t get all of the fluid out.              
  • Step 2: Clean the area of the bulb plug (next to where the drain tube enters the bulb) with an alcohol wipe and then remove the plug. Once the plug has been removed, the bulb will fill with air and expand. This will allow you to see the measurements on the side of the bulb and determine how much fluid has collected in the bulb. The reading is only accurate when the bulb is fully expanded. Record the volume in your drain log.
  • Step 3: Before you put the plug back in, turn the bulb drain-side down and squeeze all of the fluid and air out of it. Once the bulb is compressed, replace the plug. Compressing the bulb restores its ability to apply suction to the drain tube. If the bulb looks like a big prune, it’s working. If it looks like a hand grenade, it’s not. Dispose of the fluid from the bulb.

The drain site requires daily care. Remove the dressing from the drain site and dispose of it appropriately. Using a Q-tip and hydrogen peroxide, clean gently around the drain tube entry site. Apply a small amount of antibiotic ointment to the drain site and apply a clean dressing.

If you have any questions or concerns about your drain, don’t hesitate to contact us. If the drain fills rapidly or contains bright red blood please contact us immediately. In the event of a fever over 101F, significant redness around the drain site or a foul odor around the drain site or any incisions, notify us.

Scar Management

Dr. Nein uses tissue glue to close most surgical incisions, which makes incisions both waterproof and bacteria proof. Once the tissue glue has worn off, you can begin using a scar treatment agent to help minimize your scar(s). Dr. Nein recommends BioCorneum®, a silicone SPF 30 topical scar treatment. The scar treatment should be used twice daily, every day. To get the best looking and least conspicuous scar, it’s important to use the scar treatment consistently for a year, which covers the majority of the scar maturation process.

We want you to experience the best recovery possible and are happy to offer you support throughout your process. Please don’t hesitate to call our office at 615-327-0201 with any questions or concerns you may have.

After Your Plastic Surgery Procedure
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After Your Plastic Surgery Procedure
Dr. Alexander Nein, board-certified plastic surgeon based in Nashville, shares information about postoperative recovery after plastic surgery procedures.
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Dr. Alexander Nein
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