Plastic surgery is elective, and many patients have concerns and questions about how to prepare for surgery and the subsequent recovery process. Situational anxiety tends to affect patients differently. Some patients ignore or forget what they are supposed to do, and others overreact and over-think things, adding to their anxiety.
When you decide to undergo treatment with Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Hayley Brown, she and her staff will help you prepare physically and mentally to ensure the greatest chances of success for the procedure. Please call Desert Hills Plastic Surgery Center at (702) 260-7707 for a personal consultation.
First of all, keep a calm perspective. This is elective surgery and you are healthy. We are dealing with skin and tissue movement – this is not open-heart surgery. Millions of people undergo plastic surgery every day with easy recoveries and excellent results. It is not helpful to spend hours online researching potential plastic surgery complications and bad outcomes. Allowing one family member or friend’s personal opinion or experience to influence your decision or surgical plans is not an accurate or complete perspective of the procedure you are considering.
Do your homework, make sure your plastic surgeon is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and view many (not one or two) before-and-after pictures of his or her work so you know your doctor can deliver results you admire. Use your judgment to make sure he or she has your best interest at heart so that you can trust them to provide you with genuine quality care while delivering a predictable result in the safest manner possible. Bargain shopping when it comes to your health and body is not OK in this situation.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Starting 2-4 weeks before surgery, maintain a healthy diet and weight. Aggressive dieting before surgery is not advised, as good nutrition and a stable weight is important for proper healing. Getting on a scale before and after surgery on a regular basis is not helpful.
Medications to Avoid
Patients taking any dietary medication such as Phentermine or HCG need to stop. Phentermine is dangerous during anesthesia and should be stopped at least 2 weeks before surgery. Hormones also should be stopped. This includes any birth control medication, hormone supplementation, or hormone cream, especially if your surgery is under general anesthesia and scheduled to be more than 1 hour long. Hormones can increase risks for DVT (blood clots) in the legs, that can travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolus—not good) and be life threatening.
Normal weight patients with no medical problems may continue birth control pills for surgery performed under local anesthesia or general anesthesia procedures lasting 1 hour or less. (This includes breast augmentation). Try not to come to surgery pregnant, or your surgery will be canceled.
Avoid ibuprofen, aspirin, and any other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication that can cause bleeding 10 days before surgery. Stop all non-essential herbal supplements that can also cause bleeding during or after surgery. Patients on blood thinners such as Plavix need to be off these medications if cleared by their primary care doctors for at least one week before and one week after surgery. Our downloadable New Patient Packet has a list of medications you need to avoid before surgery.
For more information about herbal supplements to avoid for an upcoming surgery, see our blog.
Patients on regular medications for blood pressure, heart conditions, thyroid issues, and psychiatric conditions need to stay on these medications as prescribed. Please discuss with Dr. Brown ahead of time.
Preoperative testing includes bloodwork for all patients, mammograms for all breast surgery patients, EKGs for patients 45-50 years old or those with any preexisting heart condition, and medical or clearances for patients with medical problems or those over age 50.
Exercise of any kind is fine before surgery. It is not proven to help recovery or results. However, it is important to be fit and fully ambulatory without any shortness of breath or chest pain when exercising. Patients with asthma need to bring their inhaler to the surgery center so it can be administered before and after surgery. Patients with sleep apnea also need medical clearances and need to plan on bringing their CPAP machine to surgery for use in the recovery room.
Making Postoperative Arrangements
Purchase all recommended bras, gauze, antibiotic ointments, prescriptions and all other advised materials BEFORE surgery. You are not going to be able to run errands after surgery. Have these items at home for you when you return from the surgery center. Abdominoplasty patients typically sleep in a recliner for the first week after surgery. If you do not have one, we have a service that delivers recliners to your home for a nominal price.
All patients need to make arrangements for a caring, responsible friend or family member to drive you to and from the surgery center and stay with you overnight. A responsible caregiver is required for several days after major surgeries such as abdominoplasty, breast reductions, major liposuction and body contouring procedures, and full facelifts. If you do not have anyone available, we can arrange home health care and medical transportation for additional fees.
Plan for time off work. Most patients take 1-2 weeks off of work, depending on the procedure as well as their job description. Patients undergoing more minor procedures who perform administrative work may get back to work faster than those who have multiple procedures performed and jobs that require long hours on your feet with heavy lifting. Keep in mind that you will be tired, sore, and potentially on pain medication. Everyone heals differently, some faster than others. Regardless, have at least a week available to allow your body to recover.
Having surgery on a Friday and expecting to return to work on Monday is unrealistic. Putting your mind and body in a stressful and demanding situation hinders your recovery. Telling your boss what you are having done is entirely up to you. If you don’t want anyone to know what you are doing, we will support you and provide doctor’s notes and any other needed paperwork, being discreet of course. There is no reason that your employer needs to know what you are having done. There are HIPAA privacy laws for that.
Have all your chores done before surgery. Make arrangements for childcare and driving responsibilities, as you will not be able to drive for several days after surgery. Have everything you need on low counter tops to avoid having to reach high or bend over and strain after surgery.
Follow a soft diet for a few days preceding the surgery. Avoid heavy meals. Constipation, nausea, and vomiting are common after surgery. Colace, an over the counter stool softener, can be started 2-3 days before surgery to help with post-operative constipation.
Stay well-hydrated before and after surgery. Electrolyte solutions like Gatorade are best. Patients who are regular caffeine or coffee drinkers need to continue black coffee or have a coke after surgery to decrease symptoms or a headache that can occur from caffeine withdrawal. Have soups and soft mild foods available for after surgery.
NPO means nothing per oral, no water or food, usually after midnight before your surgery. Prescribed medications such as blood pressure medicine, heart medication, or Valium can be taken the morning of surgery with saliva in your mouth. Food or water in your belly risks aspiration from anesthesia. Your surgery will be cancelled if you stop at Starbucks on the way to the surgery center and have a pumpkin spice latte.
Good hygiene is important both before and after surgery. Shower the night before and morning of surgery, wash all body areas with antibacterial soap, and wash your hair with the shampoo of your choice. Some patients may be given additional antibacterial scrubs for intertriginous areas (folds of skin) or for their hair for procedures of the scalp.
Remove all piercings and jewelry before arriving at the surgery center. Embedded body jewelry and micro dermal jewels also need to be removed, as burns can occur during surgery from the usage of thermal equipment. Leave all valuables at home and wear loose comfortable clothing. Button down tops and elastic band sweat pants work well.
Avoid tanning before and after surgery. Showing up for surgery sunburned will increase risks for inflammation, bleeding, and poor healing. Spray tanned skin is also not ideal for surgery.
Patients undergoing facial procedures should chemically treat or dye their hair several days before surgery, as you will not be able to for weeks after surgery.
For women, shaving or waxing near surgical sites should be done 4-7 days before surgery and not the night before or morning of surgery, which can increase risks for bacterial colonization. Alternatively, we can do it for you just before we start your procedure when you are asleep in the sterile surgical environment. It is OK to be on your menstrual cycle during surgery. The stress of surgery may change your regular menstrual cycle. You do not need to do anything to try to stop menses. A tampon or pad is fine to use during your procedure.
Avoid Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco
Avoid heavy partying several days before surgery. Recreational drugs and alcohol can interact with anesthesia and post- operative medication in a dangerous and unpredictable way.
Cigarette smokers may be required to quit completely before certain surgical skin tightening procedures such as facelift, tummy tuck, breast lift, breast reduction, buttock lift, arm lifts, and thigh lifts. Smoking decreases oxygen delivery to the skin and decreases circulation while having detrimental effects on the lungs and breathing after surgery. Many E-cigs and Vapor cigarettes contain nicotine that constricts blood vessels and delays proper healing. Avoid second-hand smoke as well.
Makeup, skin care products, body lotions, deodorants, and false eyelashes are not recommended on the day of your surgery. Hair extensions need to be removed only for hair transplant surgery. Contact lens users should remove them and wear glasses to the surgery center.
Peace of Mind
Having a good mental attitude, realistic expectations, and patience makes a world of difference both before and after surgery. When you approach your surgery with the proper mindset, the procedure and your recovery go much smoother.
Your mental health needs to be at its best. Patients with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental issues could experience an exacerbation of their symptoms from medications and the stress associated with surgery. Stress and pain can trigger mental issues. Surgery is not recommended during times of high stress, such as divorce, death, and when dealing with other stressful social and psychological issues.
Patients with tension or migraine headaches need to be aware that surgery can precipitate a headache. It is fine to take your normal migraine or tension headache medicine if approved by Dr. Brown. Again, no aspirin, Motrin, or ibuprofen.
Antibiotics and Supplements
Antibiotics are prescribed for all surgical patients. Probiotic supplements, acidophilus and lactobacillus supplements, or yogurts can decrease the risk for antibiotic-associated infections. Patients prone to vaginal yeast infections should let us know so we can provide you with medication, if needed. Probiotic usage minimizes the risk of developing diarrhea or antibiotic-associated colitis.
Do not take arnica pills, or any other medication, device, battery, or product you read or saw on TV to speed healing. Excesses of anything are not advised. Maintain your normal, stable routine. Most things advertised have no proven benefit in healing and can actually be more harmful to you than doing nothing at all. For a list of supplements that do optimize healing, see our blog.
Get Plenty of Rest
Get restful sleep before surgery. Do not expect restful sleep for a few days after surgery due to discomfort, and the need to follow instructions and sleep in atypical positions. Pain pills may not have any effect on sleep. Patients tend to feel worse when they are tired.
Valium is prescribed for anxiety. You can take this a day or two before your surgery to alleviate stress and sleep well the night before your surgery. Do not share with others; Valium is a potent sedative that must be prescribed by a doctor. You are provided with the necessary and standard amount of pain medicine for the procedure you are having.
Everyone tolerates discomfort differently irrespective of the procedure performed. If you have chronic pain conditions and take narcotics regularly, you will have tolerance to pain medication. In these cases, your pain management doctor will need to be consulted ahead of time to provide you with your post-operative pain medication. Dr. Brown will not be able to meet your pain management needs in these situations.
Read all of your pre and post-operative instructions BEFORE surgery. Have your caregiver read them too. You do not need to memorize or study your consent forms, there is no test afterwards.
Be honest with your kids. Kids are smart and plastic surgery is commonplace in our region. You don’t want your kids thinking you are ill, had an accident, or have breast cancer. Honesty is usually the best policy.
Travelers need to ambulate every hour before any upcoming surgery. Avoid prolonged periods of immobilization to decrease risks for DVT (blood clots in the legs).
Lastly, enjoy the ride and relax. Plastic surgery is well worth the investment and recovery process. Time passes quickly and before you know it, you will be feeling great and looking your best. Results are natural, yet dramatic and often life-changing. It is important to trust your doctor while maintaining a good rapport, with open lines of communication. Patients who are positive and motivated have excellent outcomes and remain close with Dr. Brown and the staff of Desert Hills Plastic Surgery.
If you have any questions when you're preparing for plastic surgery, please call (702) 260-7707 or contact us online.