Reviewed By Dr. Frank

The following is a response from Dr. Robert Frank when asked what a patient should expect in their recovery process.

We all have our own ideas of how long recovery should take. Some people feel like surgery should be like a pit stop on the Indy 500. That is, they think it should be 5 seconds long then and back to their normal activities. My young, healthy moms tend to be the worst at this. They don’t want to miss a thing, so they’re trying to do everything before their bodies give them permission.

We see this in several ways. One is clearly pain. When a patient comes back a week after surgery asking for more pain medication, the first thing I ask is, “Are you doing too much?”. Too often, patients do things they shouldn’t be doing, then take narcotic pain medication before going back to what they shouldn’t be doing in the first place. If I could ask them to chill on the couch for 30 minutes, they’d feel better and be off the narcotics faster.

A second way we see patients pushing themselves too hard is swelling or, worse, a hematoma. After liposuction, for example, your body needs time to figure out a new way to move fluid out of your skin. Those who have had liposuction can attest that their skin feels firmer than untreated areas. Getting that fluid out of your skin is one of our goals during the weeks after surgery. Activating the muscles in the area draws fluid to the area, increasing swelling and often pain. In the case of a tummy tuck, too much activity early can increase blood pressure, which then causes more oozing into the space created in surgery. While a little fluid is ok, it’s easy to overwhelm your body’s ability to absorb this fluid, and a hematoma results.

I would encourage all patients to clear their schedules for the two weeks after surgery of all but the most essential duties. In our busy lives, that means childcare, job responsibilities including meetings, social activities and home chores. You’ll feel better and recovery faster if you plan ahead and anticipate that your body, not your Google calendar, is going to determine when you’re ready for action.

Please see Dr. Frank’s page for more information about his approach to plastic surgery.