Preparing yourself for plastic surgery is a crucial component of a successful outcome. Every patient wants a fast, complication free recovery, and, every patient wants a great looking result. Choosing a board certified plastic surgery with extensive experience in your chosen procedure is paramount, but so is taking care of yourself in mind and body both before and after your surgery. Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Baxter of Washington walks through the do’s and don’ts of getting ready for plastic surgery.
How to Prepare for Plastic Surgery
Most patients spend a lot of time and money on their cosmetic procedure. They are invested and are, therefore, willing to do whatever needs to be done to help with their recovery. Patients want:
- a good cosmetic result
- to get their recovery over as quickly as possible
- no complications
- minimal scars
There are definitely some do’s and don’ts. It is important to be in good shape before your procedure. If you already work out regularly, keep it up! If not, you might want to pick up the exercise in the months leading up to your surgery. Muscle tone and cardiovascular strength are both important for overall health. However, you do want to give your muscles at least a two day rest prior to your procedure, and you will probably need to avoid it for a certain amount of time after surgery depending on what you have done. Make sure to familiarize yourself with your surgeon’s recommendations on exercise before you head into the OR.
It is important to “just say no” to alcohol for at least 48 hours before your surgery. The reason for this is that alcohol has an anti-coagulate property which can increase bleeding during surgery as well as interfere with anesthesia. You also need to avoid it during your recovery if you are taking any type of pain medication.
Smoking is another huge no-no. You want to avoid exposure to nicotine for at least two weeks prior to surgery. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor and will cause the capillaries in the skin to narrow, restricting blood supply. This will adversely affect healing particularly in operations that stretch the skin such as a tummy tuck, facelift or breast lift.
Vitamins, Yes. Certain Supplements, No.
There are some vitamins that thought to be helpful with healing. These include:
- Vitamin C
- B-Vitamins, especially B-5
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin A
However, you need to be careful with supplements. Many contain ingredients that can interfere with anesthesia, pain meds, and blood clotting such as Vitamin E. So, if you are taking any kind of vitamin supplement or powder or drink, make sure to clear it with your plastic surgeon at least 2 weeks before your surgery date.
Your surgeon will give you a pre-operative packet with a list of all of the things that you should avoid prior to surgery. This will include supplements as well as medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen and Alka-Setlzer that can interfere with blood clotting. Read this packet carefully. Many surgeons will also post their list of “things to avoid” on their website. If you have a question or are unsure of something, call your surgeon’s office and ask. It’s better to be a pest than make an assumption that might put you at risk.
Good Nutrition is a Must
There is some evidence that if you eat a low fat diet prior to surgery, it can help reduce inflammation. Less inflammation means a faster, easier recovery. Regardless of whether you decide to give this a try or not, you do want to focus on good nutrition. Everyone wants comfort foods after surgery; it’s the human condition! Just make sure to plan ahead so that you include fresh fruits and vegetables. Your body needs the fiber and the nutrients in order to heal properly.
One of the most important things to remember as you prepare for surgery is “don’t go it alone,” says Dr. Baxter. You are going to need help during your recovery. “People can go through some emotional ups and downs. That’s completely normal.” It’s helpful to have someone there with you for emotional support, to help you with your medications and with your daily activities until you can function on your own.
And last, but not least, you want to make sure that you have your surgery at a time when you don’t have a lot of external stressors. You want to “make your recovery the focus of what you’re doing,” explains Dr. Baxter. Making it a priority will help ensure that your recovery goes as quickly and smoothly as possible.