Swelling after Plastic Surgery: What to Expect during Recovery

December 16, 2016 — by Stephen Hardy M.D.
Tags: Plastic Surgery

A woman's toned thighs and buttocksDeep lines and wrinkles, stubborn pockets of fat, and loose skin are all common reasons for seeking plastic surgery. Facial plastic surgery treatments can help rejuvenate your appearance by eliminating sagging skin and smoothing lines and wrinkles, while those who wish to enhance their physique may benefit from body contouring. Whether undergoing facial plastic surgery or a body procedure, it's important to be aware of the side effects to expect during recovery, one of the most common of which is swelling. For more information about swelling and plastic surgery, contact Missoula, MT plastic surgeon Stephen P. Hardy.

Why Does Swelling Occur after Plastic Surgery?

Swelling is a natural response to the healing process and is one of the most common side effects after plastic surgery. Swelling occurs after surgery, or an injury, as a result of fluid and white blood cell accumulation. As the body heals, fluids and white blood cells will be reabsorbed by the tissue, gradually reducing the appearance of swelling.

How Long Will Swelling Last?

The length of time swelling lasts after plastic surgery will vary based on the type of surgery performed, the individual body's response to surgery, and the area of the body. Most patients will see the most significant swelling during the first few days to two weeks following surgery. For those who have undergone minor surgery, swelling may fully resolve within two to three weeks while those who have undergone a more serious procedure may experience some degree of swelling for several months.

Regardless of the surgery performed, swelling should diminish over time. If swelling becomes worse and is accompanied by heat, pain, and redness, it may be a sign of infection or other complication and should be brought to your surgeon's immediate attention.

Tips to Reduce Swelling

Swelling is generally unavoidable after plastic surgery, but there are ways to help reduce swelling and aid in recovery. You will be given detailed instructions on how to care for yourself after surgery. Some tips your surgeon may recommend to help you recover and reduce swelling include:

  • Wear a compression garment: A compression garment is an elastic undergarment worn to help hold and support the tissues after surgery. Compression garments also help reduce swelling and encourage the tissues to adjust to their new contours.
  • Use clean ice packs: Applying a clean ice pack for short intervals to swollen tissues can help reduce swelling and ease discomfort.
  • Limit salt intake: Foods high in sodium can cause the body to retain fluid, which can increase swelling. Limit salty foods during recovery to help with swelling.
  • Elevate swollen areas as directed: Keeping swollen body parts elevated can also help reduce swelling, but only elevate body parts if advised by your surgeon.

Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Hardy

Plastic surgery treatments can enhance your overall appearance, helping you achieve your desired look and enjoy improved confidence. If you would like more information about plastic surgery treatments, or would like to find out which treatments are right for you, we invite you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Hardy.

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