Tips for Reducing Swelling and Bruising after cosmetic surgery

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Everyone wants a quick recovery after undergoing plastic surgery. This article will discuss the precautions you should take after surgery, as well as some tips for reducing swelling and bruising fast on your own.

1. Why It’s Important to Follow Precautions

The outcome of your surgery results from a collaboration between you and your medical team. It is essential to follow the recommended precautions before and after the procedure to ensure optimal results.

2. Hospital Visit Schedule

Visiting the hospital after surgery is to check on the state of the surgical site. The medical staff may clean the wound and give drugs to minimize complications and maximize the final results. It is best to visit the clinic during the early recovery phase, the first to third day after surgery, to assess any possibilities of potential risk. In addition, the timing of stitch removal can also impact the appearance of surgical site scars, so it’s important to keep your scheduled appointments.

3. Compression Therapy: Cool vs. Warm

Immediately after surgery, applying cool compresses to the surgical area can help constrict blood vessels and reduce bleeding. Once the initial period has passed, warm compresses can relieve bruising and swelling by promoting blood flow. For the first three days after surgery, use cool (but not icy cold or ice) compresses, then switch to warm compresses afterward. Following these guidelines can help you return to your daily routine more quickly.

4. How to Reduce Swelling On Your Own

Swelling is a normal part of the healing process after surgery and typically peaks on the second to the third day. This event occurs when blood vessels expand and plasma components leak out during the healing process. To promote faster recovery, it’s crucial to maintain good blood circulation. Here are some tips for reducing swelling in the early stages of recovery by yourself:

1) Sleep late and wake up early: For the first two or three days.

Sleeping late and waking up early can help reduce swelling, as spending less time lying down will result in less blood flowing to your face. Avoid taking naps for the first 2 to 3 days after surgery, and maintain an upright posture throughout the day.

2) Eat fresh food

It’s essential to eat a bland diet after surgery. Salt causes the body to retain water, which can contribute to swelling. Avoiding spicy or salty foods for at least a week after surgery is recommended. Also, do not take late-night meals.

3) Light jogging: Start from the first to third day

Exercise is an effective way to promote blood circulation and reduce swelling. If you’ve had blepharoplasty, you can start jogging the next day. In patients with rhinoplasty, facelift, or facial bone contouring surgery, three days after the procedure is a good time to start light exercise. The effort should be until you feel warm but not sweaty. Still, outdoor activities in cold weather can cause blood vessels to constrict. So, walking in a warm indoor space like a shopping mall is wise in winter.

4) Avoid activities that increase the pressure

Blowing your nose or straining your abdomen during the early recovery can result in latent bleeding due to increased blood pressure. Especially in lower blepharoplasty or rhinoplasty patients, this behavior should be strictly prohibited.

5) Use a high pillow while sleeping

Keeping your head elevated during sleep can help reduce facial swelling. However, for neck lift patients, using a pillow should be avoided. Please consult your surgeon for more specific instructions.

6) No smoking

Smoking can reduce blood circulation by constricting the vessels, so it is advisable to stop smoking for at least four weeks after surgery. This will help the swelling improve as blood circulation returns.

7) Drugs for facial swelling

Several medications on the market are said to help reduce swelling; most are OTC. But honestly, those were less effective than the earlier tips I described above.

5. Bruising Reduction Tips

1) Cool pack and warm compression

Apply cool compresses in the initial recovery period to prevent the bruise from becoming wider and to reduce swelling. After three days, switch to warm compresses to help the discoloration fade more quickly by increasing blood flow to the bruised area. Avoid placing compresses directly on the incision site and limit each session to 30 minutes, with 30 minutes of rest in between.

2) Low-level laser therapy (LLLT)

Many clinics use a laser device, commonly known as LED therapy, to improve swelling or bruising. This treatment can be done immediately after surgery. The mechanism behind LLLT is that cells absorb specific light and produce more energy (ATP) to increase circulation and remove waste products.

3) Skin moisturizing

It is essential to hydrate the bruised area and moisturize your skin. Instead of recommending a specific product, we suggest using one of the creams you usually use.

4) Bruise relief cream

Various creams are available to help reduce bruising, but their efficacy is questionable and lacks scientific evidence. Some common ingredients include:

  • Vitamin K ointment:
    Vitamin K works by inhibiting hemosiderin, which is the cause of bruising. Products with less than 1% vitamin K content may not be effective.
  • Heparin-containing (heparinoid) ointment:
    Heparin is an ingredient that prevents blood clotting. Noscana®, a commonly known scar cream, has a high heparin content and may help absorb bruises quickly, but further research is needed.

6. Medication, Contact Lenses, and Alcohol

  • Medication
    If you take Aspirin, Plavix, or Warfarin, you can resume taking these drugs on the third day after surgery.
  • Contact lenses
    It is best to avoid using contact lenses for at least two weeks after eyelid surgery.
  • Alcohol
    Patients are advised to abstain from alcohol for two weeks after surgery until they no longer take pain medication.

7. Conclusion

Recovery from plastic surgery often involves swelling, typically decreasing by 70-80% within the first 1-3 weeks. While the remaining swelling may take 2-6 months to subside entirely, the extent of swelling depends on the surgeon’s expertise. However, other factors such as patient anatomy, prior surgeries, health conditions, smoking, and medication use can also affect the healing process. Follow your surgeon’s post-operative instructions closely to minimize downtime and ensure a smooth recovery.

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