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These 7 Common Mistakes Could Set Back Your Surgery Recovery

Posted September 20, 2023 in Recovery

4 Minute Read:

You’ve finally done it — you’ve taken the leap and undergone the aesthetic surgery you’ve been dreaming of! But now the hard part begins: giving yourself the time and care it takes to rest and heal after your surgery. 

While you may be following your surgeon’s post-op instructions to the letter, people often make several common mistakes on the road to recovery. 

Woman sitting up in a hospital bed.

Don’t let the excitement of seeing your post-surgery results make you rush your recovery. Taking the time to heal and following simple steps to care for yourself in the weeks after your surgery can go a long way toward ensuring a successful recovery. 

Below, we explore seven common mistakes people make as they recover from cosmetic surgery.

1. Smoking or Vaping

You should have already stopped smoking or vaping before your surgery, but just because you’re home recovering doesn’t mean you should start up again. 

There are several reasons to avoid nicotine after your surgery, including:

  • Nicotine constricts your blood vessels, restricting the flow of healthy, oxygenated blood to the surgical site and compromising healing.
  • Nicotine decreases the amount of red blood cells and other types of cells vital to creating high-quality collagen.
  • Nicotine users experience slower wound healing.
  • Nicotine users are at a higher risk for post-surgical complications and less-than-optimal results.

Additionally, using nicotine has been shown to accelerate the aging process, which is counterproductive if you’ve just undergone cosmetic surgery to address aging.

2. Drinking

No matter what type of cosmetic surgery you have, there will be some swelling. While nicotine constricts blood vessels, alcohol dilates your blood vessels, increasing swelling after surgery and inhibiting wound healing. It is also a natural blood thinner, so avoid drinking to prevent unnecessary bleeding or bruising as you heal. 

If those reasons aren’t enough, consider this: alcohol decreases your pain tolerance, which may make your recovery more uncomfortable than it needs to be. 

3. Getting Back to Your Exercise Routine Too Soon

Even though you may be feeling better, it is imperative that you listen to your surgeon when it comes to exercising after cosmetic surgery. 

Returning to strenuous exercise too soon after surgery can cause many complications, whether you’ve had face or body surgery. One of the top concerns is reopening incisions, resulting in large or irregular scarring, bleeding, or infection. Another issue is overusing your muscles before your surgeon clears you. 

For example, exercising your pectoral muscles too soon after breast augmentation can put you at a higher risk for capsular contracture. Exercising too hard after facial procedures can cause delicate blood vessels to bleed, increasing the possibility of a hematoma under your skin and causing significant complications or harming your results. 

4. Being a Couch Potato

While strenuous exercise should be avoided, that doesn’t mean you should lay around and binge-watch your favorite shows for the duration of your recovery. 

Light exercise like walking is encouraged because it gets your blood flowing and aids in the healing process. Additionally, it helps to stave off dangerous complications like blood clots, which can happen after surgery. Be gentle with yourself and start slow, but commit to a bit of movement daily. 

5. Neglecting to Wear Your Post-Surgical Garments

Your surgeon will have you wear compression garments as you heal. The garment isn’t just there to help with contouring (though it does that, too), but it also:

  • Reduces swelling
  • Provides support to the surgical area
  • Helps improve circulation near the wound site, which in turn encourages healing
  • Minimizes scarring by keeping the incision closed and gentle pressure on the scar so it remains flatter

Wearing a compression garment also serves as a reminder to be cautious as you heal, in case you momentarily forget that you shouldn’t lift that heavy box quite yet.

6. Missing Your Post-Surgery Appointments

Your first post-surgery appointment will likely be within the first week or so after your procedure. These appointments are essential, as they allow your surgeon to assess how well you’re healing. While you may think everything is going well, their trained eye may spot something you didn’t. This is also the perfect time to ask questions or revisit your post-op instructions. It’s important to note that if you feel like something is “off” during your recovery, call your surgeon as soon as possible. 

7. Saying “I’m Fine” if You’re Not 

You may want to be a trooper after surgery and power through any post-surgical pain or discomfort, but this isn’t always the best route. While the risk of infection after cosmetic surgery is low (around one percent), it is still possible. Some of the signs of infection after surgery include:

  • Fever 
  • Redness or warmth at the incision site
  • Oozing or drainage at the incision site
  • A foul odor coming from the incision

Excessive pain or significant discomfort that lingers past the first few days is a sign that something is wrong. If you experience any of these symptoms or are concerned that something is wrong, contact your surgeon immediately.

Learn More About Cosmetic Surgery in Birmingham

At Cohn Plastic Surgery, we want every patient to experience a problem-free recovery and gorgeous results. Following your surgeon’s instructions and keeping the above tips in mind can help ensure you get the desired results from your aesthetic surgery.

If you’re ready to explore your cosmetic surgery options, let Dr. Cohn guide you on your aesthetic journey. Call us today at 205-590-9900 to schedule a consultation or complete our online contact form.