American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals

Maximizing your glow: Ideas for embracing the patient journey

embracing the patient journey in plastic surgery

Many patients are so hyper-focused on planning a plastic surgery procedure that they forget about preparing for one of the most important parts of the process – the recovery. The procedure can be life-changing, but how you recuperate can make a big difference in your end result.

It seems contrary, but you can achieve the best results much faster if you take the time to mend according to your surgeon's instructions. It is essential to prepare for recovery both mentally and physically before the procedure. This allows your body and your mind the adequate time and energy to focus on healing.

ASPS is here to set you up for success in the recovery process. We have reached out to two experts in the field – Ashley Howarth, MD, and Lisa Jewell, MD, FACS – for their insight and advice on the importance of recovery and how to maximize your results and glow.

The importance of mindfulness and healthy choices in recovery

It is vital to understand your plastic surgery journey starts before the actual operation.

"Preparing before a plastic surgery procedure is crucial to ensure success," said Howarth. "Physical and psychological preparation prior to surgery can significantly impact and improve the healing process, minimize complications and enhance outcomes."

Your journey really begins at your first meeting with the surgeon.

"This step is very important, and I spend a lot of time coaching my patients to set themselves up for a smooth recovery," said Jewell. "I start this process during their consultation. I try to be as accurate as possible with the recovery time required for each procedure."

Recovery from any plastic surgery procedure can benefit from switching to healthier lifestyle choices. This means getting enough sleep, hydrating and minimizing stress.

"Patients should avoid smoking, excessive alcohol and certain medications that can hinder recovery," said Howarth. "These items will always be discussed during your individualized pre-operative visit with your board-certified plastic surgeon. It is also important to maintain a peaceful environment without undue drama or stress in your life as you prepare for your operation."

Healthy lifestyle choices are key to a successful recovery, but it is also important not to make a drastic life change prior to surgery. You may think it will improve your overall health, but it can negatively affect your recovery.

"I typically advise patients to avoid making any major changes to their lifestyle, diet or supplement intake immediately before surgery," said Jewell. "More long-term changes, we try to address prior to surgery scheduling."

Another healthy practice that is easy to implement prior to surgery and stick with afterward is using mindfulness to reduce stress. Meditation or simple quiet time can allow you to reflect upon your thoughts and feelings or help you recenter yourself if you are beginning to feel overwhelmed.

"Visualize heading to your surgery, having surgery and recovering from surgery to help manage anxiety," said Howarth. "Practice self-care and do the things you love to do that help you manage stress."

How to set yourself up for a successful recovery

Here are a few key ways to prepare yourself and your space ahead of your surgery to maximize your recovery and your results.

Establish realistic expectations for your recovery

This may seem like common sense, but this step is often skipped when considering plastic surgery procedures. Make sure to keep in mind that you will need adequate rest and relaxation to recover properly and will not immediately go back to your day-to-day activities.

"It surprises me how many patients think that they will just hop on an airplane for work or vacation a week after a breast augmentation or tummy tuck," said Jewell. "They have no idea that trying to get a suitcase in the overhead bin is not going to happen safely within a week of those surgeries."

Keep an eye on what you are eating

Focus on establishing a healthy and nutritious diet leading up to and following the procedure.

"Key components of preparation are providing your body with vital nutrients from a healthy and well-balanced diet," said Howarth.

It is more than just generally eating healthy, though. Exactly what you eat makes a big difference.

"Protein requirements increase after surgery, so make sure that your diet contains adequate high-quality protein before and after surgery," said Jewell. "Set a goal of 1.6-2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day starting about one week prior to surgery."

Set your recovery space up ahead of time

The time following any procedure can be stressful. Prepare your recovery space ahead of time so there is less strain. Have everything you will need ready to go, including premade meals and a support system to assist you with day-to-day tasks.

Don't be afraid to ask for help

So many patients are used to being independent. They are often the person others rely on at home or the office and are afraid to ask for help. Make sure that you have a plan and help lined up to minimize stress and physical activity during your recovery.

"The single most important thing a patient can do to ensure a successful recovery is to overestimate how much help they will need," said Jewell. "It is much better to have too much than not enough."

Stay in touch with your surgeon

Your number one resource before and during your recovery process will be the surgeon and team that completed your procedure. They will be able to guide you on the steps to follow to set yourself up for success.

"Communication with your board-certified plastic surgeon sets the foundation for your successful recovery as you work together to prepare for surgery," said Howarth.

Be mindful throughout the process

Mindfulness can be a powerful tool to maximize your recovery and give patients the confidence they need to take the plunge on planning a procedure.

"Patients may find comfort in acknowledging that they have made a choice to have surgery and have the power to change their minds if the circumstances do not feel right," said Jewell. "Accepting that during and after surgery they may feel vulnerable, anxious and experience physical discomfort. Trusting their provider to help them achieve the benefits that surgery will have on their quality of life and self-esteem. Certainly, being present in the moment and listening to their body will help avoid making choices that may slow their recovery."

Maximize your glow

Proper planning for your plastic surgery recovery is critical in order to maximize your results. Start implementing healthy lifestyle choices ahead of time, prepare your space and practice mindfulness to keep yourself centered throughout the recovery process.

You can effectively maximize your glow and results by giving your body the time and space it needs to heal fully.

To find a qualified plastic surgeon for any cosmetic or reconstructive procedure, consult a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. All ASPS members are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, have completed an accredited plastic surgery training program, practice in accredited facilities and follow strict standards of safety and ethics. Find an ASPS member in your area.


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