The recovery period after plastic surgery is just as much of a factor in your final results as the procedure itself is. As a patient, you’ll receive plenty of instructions about what activities, medications, and supplements to avoid and how to care for yourself after surgery. But realistically, there’s only so much sleep a person can enjoy, so how do you stay busy and occupied while adhering to all the rules for a healthy recovery? After more than 20 years of helping patients through their surgical process as a double board-certified plastic surgeon, I have a few tips that can help.
- Spend your resting time reclined at a 30-degree or 45-degree angle, rather than lying flat.
- Remember to get up and walk around gently every so often, to keep your blood flowing well.
- You shouldn’t drive for about a week after surgery (specifically, make sure you can move your head freely and are off any prescription pain medication before you resume driving).
- You shouldn’t bend down or lift heavy items for about a week after your face lift.
- Avoid swimming, diving, water skiing, and vigorous exercise for at least a month.
- Protect your skin from sun exposure. Limit the amount of time you spend outdoors, and if you do go outside, be sure to wear sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher (applied at least half an hour before you go outside and reapplied approximately every two hours), a wide-brimmed hat, and sun-protective clothing.
- When you’re resting, try to keep your chin level or pointed up as much as possible.
- Minimize talking so your face can rest.
Some of the timelines above may vary from one patient to the next, especially if you have a Band Aid Mini Facelift instead of a traditional facelift. With all that in mind, here are a few suggestions for keeping boredom at bay:
- Catch up on movies or TV shows you’ve been wanting to watch. Position yourself so you’re not tilting your head down to watch, and remember to get up and walk around between each episode or movie.
- Stock up on books to read, but keep in mind that it may be difficult to focus if you’re drowsy or using pain medication.
- If you want to read books, knit, crochet, or do other activities that would normally require you to look down at your hands, try placing a pillow or two on your lap so you can hold your hands higher up rather than tilting your chin down.
- Avoid passing the time by talking to your family and friends on the phone. Try texting or emailing them instead.
- If you have the ability to work from home, this can help you get back to work earlier than if you were to wait until you feel well enough to return to the office. But remember, stress can impede your plastic surgery recovery, so if you do plan to work from home, keep the stress to a minimum and arrange your computer or other equipment so that you can keep your chin straight or tilted up while you work.
- Embrace your inner child and pick up a video game—as long as your competitive streak doesn’t make the game too stressful or make you strain your neck.
- Enjoy some new music—a great activity to do while you’re holding cool compresses on your eyes.
- Pick up a book of crossword puzzles and give your brain a workout.
Plastic surgery isn’t generally one of those “it’s about the journey, not the destination” experiences. Cosmetic surgery patients are typically motivated solely by the results they’re looking forward to. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of the process and enjoy each stage in the best way you can. Use your facelift recovery as a chance for some much-needed rest and relaxation. To get started on your facial rejuvenation journey, schedule a consultation with me, Dr. John L. LeRoy. Or, for more plastic surgery tips, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.