Cosmetic Surgery Magazine article, posted 2005
Cosmetic surgery is not one isolated event. The patient must be proactive, both by being prepared upfront, and helping the healing process along after the procedure is done.
So, what to do first? Gail Foster Zanville’s company, Plastic Surgical Consultants of Los Angeles, not only suggests doctors but also instructs her clients in the dos and don’ts, the befores and afters. A service such as hers might provide the perfect people to consult.
“A lot of it is plain common sense,” Zanville says, “such as not smoking, not getting a tan, eating meals packed with healthy nutrients, not going on a sudden diet, and planning ahead so the patient will have time to rest after the procedure.” Too many people, she notes, schedule hectic social events one week after surgery – only to find themselves swollen, in pain, and weak. Stress works against the healing process, so it should be avoided at all costs.
Other before-surgery procedures should be explained by the doctor – and if they are not, don’t be afraid to ask any questions. It may seem trivial to you, but could be vital to your recovery.
“Dye your hair as close to the date as possible,” Zanville says, because you won’t be dying it for a while. “Don’t wear high-heeled shoes and clothes, which are hard to remove and replace when going for surgery. Avoid taking aspirin products for two weeks prior to surgery. Don’t smoke for many weeks before and after (it may be the perfect time to quit!). Don’t eat or do anything completely different from your routine, such as over-exercise or get a lot of sun. Avoid alcohol for 72 hours before, and of course, no food or water after midnight of the day before the procedure.
Make sure you have ice packs ready by your bed for swelling, soft foods which are easy to chew, and medication prescribed by your doctor for pain and sleep. Have a lubricant for your lips close by.
Of course, with any extensive facial surgery, you may be housed in an aftercare center for 24 hours; it might be wise to invite a friend or family member to come and stay with you for several days afterward, in order to help with medications and food.
"Stress works against the healing process..."
“Look at the nightstand by your bed, where you will spend the first days resting and healing,” says Zanville. “Is there gauze around, something to drink with (like a straw) and all items you need to alleviate panic and stress?”
Rita M., a recent facial surgery patient, found it very difficult to sleep for over 10 days after her surgery. “There are staples and sutures in your head, and they keep you awake,” she explained. “I ended up exhausted and passing out in a sitting position.”
To avoid this, consider investing in a Save My Face pillowette, which is specially designed to take pressure off these wounds after surgery. Several post-operative patients who have tried it said they slept without discomfort.
Dr Nicholas Nikolov, a leading Los Angeles plastic surgeon, says patients must be practical and informed. He also likes to prepare the skin before surgery. “We suggest people use Retin-A for four to six weeks before the operation, because it improves skin quality, healing and blood supply. But the leading thing I recommend is to allow enough recovery time. No stress, even if you feel healed.”
In other words, let your doctor decide when you can resume an active social and business life. “It makes the experience so much more pleasant,” says Dr Nikolov, and the patients we’ve spoken to heartily agree.