Setting the Scene for Plastic Surgery: Preparing Yourself & Your Space for Recovery

Parker Center for Plastic Surgery

iStock_000007720270_MediumRecovery: it’s a part of the plastic surgery process that every patient wants to go as quickly and smoothly as possible—and we want that for you too. We have a unique Rapid Recovery Program, and now we’re offering advice to help you prep your home for an ideal recovery experience.

While recovery does require plenty of rest, TLC, and a temporary hiatus from vigorous activity, this downtime doesn’t have to be a boring experience. By getting your home, your schedule, and your family situated for your recovery, you can make sure your post-op days are relaxing, restful, and conducive to helping you enjoy optimal results.

Knowing where to start can be challenging, but we’re here to help with this guide for patients planning to have plastic surgery. We’ve included information to help you know when and where you’ll need assistance, as well as handy tips to help you “set the scene” at home for a smooth, stress-free recovery.

Choose your Supporting Cast

Asking for help can be hard, but undergoing surgery requires the support of others. Here’s a basic list of people you will need on hand to make sure you stay safe and comfortable (and sane!) during your recovery:

  • A designated driver. You’ll need a trusted adult to drive you to the surgery center and take you home after your procedure. If possible, choose someone with a roomy vehicle that is easy to get in and out of. Also consider having someone on call during this time as it is dangerous to drive while you are taking prescription pain medications.
  • Someone to stay with you the first 24 – 48 hours. While you’ll be awake shortly after surgery, you may need assistance whenever you get up to use the bathroom or walk around as the effects of anesthesia gradually taper off.
  • Full-time childcare. Parenting can be demanding, particularly when you’ve just undergone surgery. To avoid straining your incisions, you should refrain from certain parenting duties, such as lifting or carrying small children. Get your spouse, a family member, or sitter to take over as primary caregiver while you recover. Your surgeon will provide you with a recovery timeline specific to your procedure.
  • Housekeeping help. Even moderate lifting is restricted while your incisions heal, which means most housework is off-limits (a large load of laundry can weigh upwards of 20 pounds!). Enlist a friend to help to take care of household tasks, or arrange for laundry service or grocery delivery for a couple of weeks.
  • Don’t forget about your pets! Fido won’t find the fact that you just had surgery a valid excuse to forgo his daily walk. Designate someone to tend to the non-human family members. This can be the perfect job for an older child, who may be thrilled to be “in charge” of this important task.

Preparing Your Home: Build Your Personal Recovery Suite

Even everyday tasks like getting dressed, brushing your teeth, or going upstairs may be a little challenging during the initial days after surgery. Make it easy on yourself by planning ahead: in each room of your home, do what you can to minimize effort and maximize comfort.

  • Do your spring cleaning now. Coming home to a clutter-free house can make you feel like a million bucks any time, but after surgery it’s especially important that your home be clean and free of obstacles.
  • Plan your post-surgery wardrobe. Many procedures require patients to modify their clothing choices for a few weeks. Loose-fitting clothes that go on easily are typically the best option for staying comfortable. Your plastic surgeon will give you instructions about clothing options for your specific procedure.
  • Be ready for a good night’s sleep. Your surgeon may require that you sleep on your back and/or keep your head elevated after surgery to protect the incisions. Extra pillows can help you maintain a comfortable position. If your bedroom is upstairs, consider setting up a temporary bedroom on the main level to make things a little easier.
  • Planning ahead for what you need. Lifting, reaching, and straining are usually off-limits after plastic surgery, so think of ways to organize your space that keeps everything you may need easily reachable.

Preparing the Kitchen: Plan Ahead for Healthy, Tasty, & Easy Meals

A key part of recovering well is eating well, but cooking is probably one of the last things you’ll feel like doing after surgery.

  • Make as much as you can ahead of time. Pre-cut fruits and veggies or stock up on yogurt cups for simple, healthy snacks. Bake or purchase casseroles that the family can easily reheat with minimal effort. Be sure to include fiber-rich foods on the menu, as pain meds can be somewhat constipating.
  • Place go-to foods and utensils at waist level to avoid unnecessary bending or reaching. Also, buy a pack of bendable drinking straws to help you stay hydrated without bending or tilting your head uncomfortably. This is especially helpful if you’ve had facial cosmetic surgery.
  • Consider using disposable dinnerware. You shouldn’t have to worry about doing the dishes after surgery. It’s okay to use disposable utensils and plates for a day or two if you’re worried about dishes piling up.

Prepare to be a Temporary Couch Potato

After most procedures, you’ll be encouraged to move around after the first day or two. But you do need to take a break from the gym, heavy housework, or other strenuous activity. Take this rare opportunity to lounge around by stocking up on easygoing activities before you have surgery. A few ideas to help you get started:

  • Put the TV to work. Your recovery is the perfect excuse to hunker down and binge-watch your favorite show on Netflix.
  • Visit the library. This is a great time to read a novel or two. If you’re having eyelid surgery, your eyes may tire more easily, so choose an audiobook.
  • Get some new stationery. When is the last time you sent out a real letter? Use your recovery to say hello to an old friend or knock out your holiday greeting cards.
  • Take the kids to the toy store. This can be a great opportunity to involve your kids and help prepare them for your recovery. Let them pick out a puzzle or board game you can play together while more strenuous activities are off-limits.

Prepare Yourself Emotionally

Don’t forget to take time to prepare your mind for your recovery. Knowing what to expect ahead of time can make a huge difference—emotional ups and downs are common for patients after cosmetic surgery. So, if you find yourself feeling fantastic one day and wondering if you made the right decision the next, you’re perfectly normal!

Our friends at La Jolla Cosmetic Surgery Centre have put together a handy infographic that nicely outlines the emotional stages of plastic surgery recovery.

Take Care of the Odds & Ends

Finally, think of anything you can do to make your surgery and recovery as stress-free as possible.

  • Get your prescriptions filled before surgery. Your plastic surgeon will issue any prescriptions at your pre-surgery appointment.
  • Double check your calendar. Make sure you don’t schedule any appointments or meetings that might interfere with your recovery during the weeks after surgery.
  • Pay your bills, mow the lawn, etc. After surgery, the last thing on your mind will be whether or not you paid the power bill. A good rule of thumb: take care of any routine tasks that you would normally do before leaving on a vacation.

By spending a little time now preparing for your recovery, you can relax knowing that everything and everyone is taken care of. Then you can focus on taking care of yourself.

Have questions about this guide or the recovery process? Please contact us! If you are considering having plastic surgery in New Jersey, we’ll be happy to discuss options with you during a with Dr. Parker.

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