What to Expect Before You Undergo a Cosmetic Surgery

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There is so much that goes into a successful surgical result, it’s hard to remember every detail before you go step, or roll, into the operating room. While your surgeon will provide you with the information about your specific procedure beforehand, it’s hard not to focus solely on getting to the other side and seeing your transformation. To get a breakdown on what to expect in general with any cosmetic surgery, we asked the experts to give us answers to their most asked pre-operative questions.

What are some good practices everyone should do before a procedure?

One of the most important things that contribute to a satisfactory experience is being on the same page with your surgeon in terms of what to expect, says Arcadia, CA, plastic surgeon Art Yu, MD: “Make sure that you talk to the doctor in detail as to what you really want. The doctors do know what they need to tell you, however, he or she may not necessarily know what you really want.” 

“Patients should stop any medications that may contribute to decreased blood clotting and subsequent bleeding,” adds Nashville, TN plastic surgeon Daniel A. Hatef, MD.  “These are aspirin, NSAIDs like ibuprofen, blood thinners like Coumadin, Lovenox, and Xarelto, and herbals or supplements that may have fish oil or turmeric. In our practice, we tell patients to stop all vitamins and supplements two weeks before surgery, because you never know what is lurking in one.”

What should you look for in terms of where your surgery is being performed?

“Plastic surgery should only be done by a board-certified plastic, facial plastic or oculoplastic surgeon who is certified in their specialty by the American Board of Medical Specialties in a certified operating room,” Dr. Hatef advises.

“I recommend an outpatient surgery center that is Medicare certified and AAAASF-certified,” Dr. Sanders says. “I would also check online ratings for the surgery center as well as any consumer complaint websites. It’s also important to understand that outpatient surgery centers are every bit as safe if not safer, than hospital-based surgery centers for the appropriate type of operation.”

How long should a procedure take and how long is too long to be under anesthesia or in the operating room?

Procedures take varying lengths of time, depending on the surgeon and the complexity and extent of the procedure says Encino, CA plastic surgeon George Sanders, MD. “My general rule of thumb is to not exceed six hours for surgery done under general or deep sedation anesthesia. There is a higher complication rate after six hours of surgery.”

“The American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the California Medical Board where I’m based both recommend that surgical procedures be done under six hours to minimize the chance of deep vein thrombosis,” notes Dr. Yu.

What is a reasonable time to expect to be recovering before you can return to your normal lifestyle after cosmetic surgery?

It depends on the type of operation you undergo, but Dr. Hatef says give it about four to six weeks to feel completely back to normal. “Recovery time for primary breast augmentation is one the lower side,” he explains. “I want those patients back to normal the day after surgery, although they must avoid working out for about a month. It’s longer for something like a necklift where I take out subplatysmal fat and submandibular glands. In that case, the patient should plan on three weeks of social downtime, and I don’t want them leaning forward or working out for six weeks.”

What is the most important thing a patient can do to help accelerate healing?

“Early walking, drinking lots of water, taking a bromelain supplement, and remaining positive and happy,” recommends Dr. Yu. “All of this helps.”

“Being in as good of shape as possible is the first and foremost thing that a patient can do to assist with optimal recovery,” says Dr. Hatef. “Eating well, avoiding smoking, and exercising frequently are all key to a good lifestyle that will support healing.  Second most important is following our instructions. We recommend that patients drink at least 60 ounces of water a day and eat a diet high in antioxidants and low in inflammatory foods. Finally, things like hyperbaric oxygen and protein and collagen supplemental shakes can be helpful after surgery.”

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