What to Do To Minimize Redness and Swelling After Surgery

Patient listening to his doctor sitting at the table. Hands close-upOne of the biggest concerns people often have about plastic surgery, aside from the cost of their procedure, is the redness and swelling that can occur afterward. Although you go into surgery with the basic understanding that you’ll need some time to recover and that it will be some time before you see your full results, that doesn’t mean you want to look like a puffy lobster for weeks on end.

How Long Will Redness and Swelling Last?

How long swelling and redness last after your surgery depends on a few factors. One is how your body responds to the procedure. Some people are more prone to swelling and redness than others. Another factor that affects swelling and redness is the type of a surgery you have.

After some procedures, swelling and discoloration might diminish within a few days after the surgery. But, some surgeries can cause swelling that persists for several months, or even up to a year. For example, it might be a full year after rhinoplasty before all of the swelling completely dissipates. If you are particularly concerned about either redness or swelling and how long either will last, your surgeon can give you a general idea of what to expect.

Remember RICE

Surgeons often use the acronym “RICE” to give patients an idea of how to handle swelling after a procedure. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

Getting enough rest after your procedure, whether that means taking a few days or a week off from your job and putting most of your usual activities on hold, will help minimize redness and swelling. It will also help you heal more quickly and might even improve the results of your surgery.

Putting ice, or a cold compress, on the area also helps reduce swelling up to a point. Use a cold or ice pack as directed by your surgeon, usually several times a day, for up to 20 minutes. Although ice can reduce swelling, it can also hurt you if used too much or if placed directly on the skin. Remember to wrap your ice pack or compress in a towel.

Compression, which means applying gentle pressure to the area, can also help bring down swelling. Wearing a compression garment is often recommended after surgeries such as liposuction or a tummy tuck. The garment not only helps reduce swelling, it can also help to improve the final shape in the area. For example, wearing a compression garment after liposuction can help reduce any visible skin sagging in the treated area.

Keeping the area elevated after your surgery may or may not be possible. If you have facial plastic surgery, you can sleep with your head propped up to help any fluid drain away. If you have surgery in the middle of your body, try sitting upright as much as possible to improve blood flow. You might want to try sleeping in a recliner for a few weeks after your procedure to avoid having to lie flat in bed.

Stay Hydrated

You might not be particularly interested in drinking a lot of water right after your surgery, but making a real effort to stay hydrated will help to reduce redness and swelling. Getting enough fluids will help your body heal more quickly. That means you’ll not only feel back to your usual self faster, you’ll look like your usual self more quickly.

Talk to Your Surgeon About Taking Medicine or Supplements

In some instances, over-the-counter medications or herbal supplements can be used to help control swelling or redness. For example, pain relievers such as ibuprofen are known for their anti-inflammatory effects and their ability to help reduce swelling. Some people also swear by arnica cream or bromelain (an enzyme naturally found in pineapple) for helping to minimize swelling.

If you’re thinking about taking any sort of medicine or supplements to control redness or swelling, it’s a good idea to discuss your options with your surgeon first. You don’t want to take anything that will interfere with your healing process or increase your risk for complications.

Swelling and redness go hand in hand with surgery. Working with a board certified, experienced plastic surgeon, such as Dr. Paul Vitenas in Houston, Texas, can help you avoid complications from surgery. Your surgeon can also help you figure out the best way to keep swelling and redness to a minimum. To learn more, call 281-484-0088 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Vitenas today.

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