There is no hard-set rule for recovery for any plastic surgery procedure. Recovery instructions are customized for each patient based on many factors, all of which are discussed before surgery. So, recovery time will vary from patient to patient.

In addition to minimizing discomfort, there are other reasons that a measured recovery is important. Early in the healing period, blood vessels are healing and subject to injury. Bleeding after surgery can have many causes. One cause is the physical disruption of a vessel. Excessive activity too early in the post-operative period can physically disrupt vessels and cause bleeding. Another potential cause of bleeding after surgery is hypertension, or high blood pressure. Again, excessive activity early in the post-operative period can cause increased blood pressure which could cause bleeding. While excessive activity after surgery does not make problems a certain eventuality, it does increase the likelihood of preventable problems.

Procedure Type

When estimating recovery time for a particular plastic surgery procedure there are two main considerations that are interdependent. The first consideration is the specific type of procedure or procedures. Some surgical procedures require more time for recovery than others. For example, an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) may require a longer recovery time than is required for a blepharoplasty (eyelid lift). So, the type of plastic surgery procedure is an important factor in determining recovery time.

Work Responsibilities

The second consideration regarding the time for recovery is the type of job performed by the patient. Patients that seek plastic surgery procedures have diverse vocations. For example, some patients may work in the computer technology world, which requires very little physical exertion, while others may work in the retail world, which may require significant physical exertion. A job requiring significant physical exertion may require a longer recovery period. Depending upon the surgical procedure and the type of job, recovery time (time to return to work) can vary. A newscaster that has facial surgery may choose a longer recovery period than a work-from-home computer programmer getting the same procedure. A truck driver that has an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) may choose a longer recovery period than a cosmetologist getting the same procedure. So, it is not just the procedure, and it is not just the job; it is both.

Number of Procedures

Patients frequently ask about recovery time for multiple procedures versus single procedures (to be addressed further in a future blog). In general, multiple procedures (such as with a Mommy Makeover) performed at the same time usually do not add significant time to the recovery period. For example, a patient getting an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) and a breast augmentation at the same time will not have a significantly longer recovery time than a patient getting a breast augmentation alone. However, if the procedures are done at separate times (surgery, followed by recovery, followed by a second surgery, followed by a second recovery) the additive recovery time will be much longer than if the procedures were done at the same time. If more than one procedure is desired, which is very common, less time will be spent in recovery if the procedures are done at the same time.

Patient Influences

There can also be individual variation in recovery time unrelated to the physiologic process of wound healing. The overall recovery time can be related to the patient’s motivation and desire to recover. It can also be related to vocation, support people, and/or specific individual pre-operative condition. So, the stated recovery periods for surgery are estimates.

Why are the estimated recovery times longer on plastic surgery websites? In general, the times for recovery are on the long side, meaning the estimates are generally the most time that will be required for any patient with any job.

If you have other questions about plastic surgery recovery, please contact our practice to schedule a consultation with Dr. Stephen Herring.