Swelling after Surgery

By far the most common questions I field in my Aesthetic Surgery practice following a surgery concern swelling. This is true for facial surgery, breast surgery and body contouring. “Is this normal ?” and “When will it go away ?” are usually the main ones. Well, it is completely normal for your tissues to swell after surgery and it will go away at different speeds depending what was done and the body part. Here’s why…

When you have surgery, your tissues are ‘injured’, albeit in a very controlled, sterile environment. But all the same, the tissue does undergo an injury. Our body responds to that with an “inflammatory response”. Now the term ‘inflammation’ has gotten a bad rap of late but in reality the inflammatory response is the normal pathway by which the body heals. Part of this response is that the blood vessels in the area of the surgery will get more ‘leaky’. Blood vessels are not solid tubes, they are porous to let the cells that promote healing access the area. With this movement of cells come shifts of fluid from inside the blood vessels to to injured tissue, thus the swelling. As the healing process progresses the swelling will subside.

In general, swelling in the face resolves more quickly while the breasts and body take longer. The thighs and legs will stay swollen the longest because of gravity. So, in the face it is not unusual or unexpected to have swelling for several weeks. The breasts and torso will show swelling for 3 to 6 months typically.

There are methods to minimize the swelling that your surgeon will include as part of your aftercare so check with him/her as you prepare for your procedure. But in the end, Yes it is normal to swell and it always goes away.

Lee E. Corbett, MD

Medical Director, Corbett Cosmetic Aesthetic  Surgery and MedSpa

 

Driving after Surgery

A common question patients have when they are planning their cosmetic procedure is when can they drive after surgery.

The answer is that you can drive when you are off of your pain medicine AND when you are reasonably able to react to normal driving situations. If you drive while taking a narcotic, and are pulled over for poor/erratic driving, you very well may get a DUI. While it is perfectly legal for you to have the narcotic pain medicine as they were prescribed for you, it is not legal to drive impaired, be it pain medicine or alcohol. You simply cant drive impaired.

The other factor is your ability to react normally. For instance, if you are too sore to rotate and look over your shoulder, you probably shouldn’t drive. This is more of a common sense issue/decision that you need to make yourself.

I hope this short blog helps as you plan for your cosmetic surgery procedure.

Lee Corbett, MD

Medical Director Corbett Cosmetic Aesthetic Surgery and Med Spa

Breast Augmentation Recovery…how long does it take to get better.

With Spring Break and the summer bathing suit season a few months away I am seeing the usual ‘Spring rush’ for breast augmentation, which is the most common cosmetic operation in the US. Recovery period is a common concern for the patients and so I wanted to go over so generalities about return to work, exercise, swelling etc..

The biggest determinants of recovery are 1) placement location 2) Implant size and 3) your starting point. Implants that are placed below the muscle lead to more recovery than above the muscle. When the muscle is lifted and manipulated it swells and gets sore. Under hurts more than over. Larger implants stretch your tissue out more and so the more stretch the more pain. And the final aspect is how tight your skin is to begin with. If you have had pregnancies and your skin has stretched it will feel much less tight than say an A cup woman who has never been pregnant. Again, more stretching means more discomfort.

So how long will you be sore? Well, assuming you go under the muscle as most people do, the first two or three days post op are the worst. These first few days you will need to use your pain meds and muscle relaxants. These will help a lot and keep you comfortable but the side effect is you will be groggy. You will be mobile and able to do basic day to day things but you will be sore if you try to do too much to soon. Most patients, if they have a  desk job, are able to get back to work within 5-7 days. If you have a job that involves heavier lifting, pushing, pulling etc…you might need several weeks to recover. As far a exercise, you can start some light aerobic stuff at 2 weeks, but start slow. Full bore exercise is probably more likely at the 4-6 week point or longer.

Bras and Bikinis. Do NOT run right out and buy a whole slew of new bras and bikinis! It takes at least 6-8 weeks to even start to see what your final size and shape will be. Go buy some inexpensive bras at first to ‘bridge the gap’ from where you started to your end result. Your surgeon will be able to tell you when you can go shopping based on your exam.

Considering Breast Augmentation? Check out our websites at www.CorbettCosmeticSurgery.com or www.KentuckyBreast.com

Lee Corbett, MD

www.kentuckybreast.com