Preparing for Surgery: How to Make Smart, Healthy Choices

A common topic my Phoenix plastic surgery patients frequently ask me about is how they should best prepare for surgery. Preparing for surgery is not simply reading the preoperative paperwork- it actually encompasses a few different subtopics such as physical preparation, mental preparation and family / work preparation.

Before plastic surgery, our Phoenix patients need to think carefully about their nutrition.

From a physical standpoint, it is best to be as healthy as possible heading into surgery. This includes eating nutritious foods (lots of vegetables, clean proteins), maintaining a regular exercise program, and avoiding harmful habits like smoking or alcohol around the time of surgery. Good hydration and a multivitamin are helpful as well. If patients have underlying medical problems, it is important that these are evaluated by their primary care doctor or another expert if needed. Heading to surgery in good physical shape will speed up recovery and lower risks.

From a mental standpoint, patients need to be prepared for the changes they will experience, both short and long term. Immediately after surgery, some discomfort is to be expected although this will be managed with pain medications. The type of soreness associated with most aesthetic surgery is similar to the discomfort one would feel the day after a really rough work-out, with stiffness and soreness being more common than severe pain. Another mental factor to be considered is that medications from anesthesia and pain pills can make people feel “off”, or emotional for a few days. This is a less common issue, but it occurs, it is important to understand this is temporary. Finally, patients need to understand that immediate results are not their long term results, so swelling, bruising and other irregularities should not become a point of focus or concern as these issues resolve on their own over time. Realistic expectations of short and long term results will go a long way towards long term satisfaction after surgery.

With regards to social and work preparations, patients must make adequate allowances for the surgery recovery period. Patients will need some help for themselves for at least a day or two, and patients with small children will need assistance for a week or longer depending on the surgery. Trying to do too much early on after surgery can increase complications, and driving is not legal while on pain medications. For work, most desk jobs are fine after a week to ten days, but more physical jobs will require more time to recover. Thankfully, most workplaces will have less physical work options for employees recovering after surgery, but this often takes some advanced planning to set up.

Clearly this is not a comprehensive list of all preoperative preparations, but hopefully this will start the thought process of what to do to make your surgical recovery as smooth as possible. For more information on this topic, please check out my interview on RadioMD.

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