Plastic surgery is the process of repairing or reconstructing parts of the body. There are a variety of ways to modify the body and face. We’ll walk you through some of the most common procedures and what recovery times look like for each one.
Many types of plastic surgery are done by transferring tissue from one part of the body to another. Reconstructive plastic surgery deals mostly with surgical repair or restoration of an injured, lost, or defective part of the body. On the other hand, cosmetic surgery is intended to enhance a person’s appearance.
In either case, the recovery process can be extensive after having a procedure done. It is important to have a strong plan and support system in place, to remember to be patient with the healing process, and to follow the surgeon’s instructions.
Here you can find a list of many of the different types of procedures explaining what they are and what recovery looks like for them.
How long is the plastic surgery recovery process for body contouring procedures?
For body contouring procedures, recovery ranges from a few weeks to a couple of months. This depends on how well the procedure goes and whether the proper post-surgical plan is in place.
Mommy Makeover. The goal of this procedure is to restore the appearance and shape of a woman’s body after bearing a child. The most common areas addressed are the breasts, abdomen, genitalia, buttocks, and waist. Gauze or bandages will be applied to incisions following the procedure. A compression garment is often used to control swelling. Healing takes several weeks to months to fully recover.
Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck). This procedure minimizes the abdominal area by removing excess fat and skin. After the surgery, individuals may experience some short term side effects such as a swollen or painful abdomen. Healing is slow and may take weeks or a couple months to fully recover. Scars can take a year to flatten out or lighten in color, however they may never completely disappear.
Liposuction. This procedure is the removal of excess fat through a suctioning process in order to change the body’s contour and shape. It may be performed under the chin, stomach, thighs, hips, under the arms, and breast areas. Some surgeons require their patients to wear a compression garment for a couple months after surgery to control swelling. Small temporary drains may be placed in existing incisions under the skin to extract any extra fluid or blood. Most people take antibiotics to prevent infection and can return to work within a few days.
Gynecomastia Treatment. Gynecomastia is an enlargement of breast tissue in male individuals usually caused by an imbalance of hormones, medications, or various diseases. The treatment reduces the size of the breast tissue using a liposuction or excision technique. A combination of the two are used at times. Bandages will be applied to incisions and a support garment may be used to minimize swelling during recovery. A small thin tube may be placed under the skin to drain any excess fluid that collects.
How long is the plastic surgery recovery process for facial procedures?
Similar to body contouring procedures, facial procedures range in healing time from a couple weeks to a couple of months. Some may even take a full year to recover sensations in the face. Here is a variety of facial procedures and what their healing processes look like.
Facelift & Necklift. This is the removal of excess facial fat, the tightening of facial muscles, and stretching of skin to create a smoother, firmer facial appearance. The skin in separated from the fat and muscle, then the fat is removed and skin pulled back into place. Any excess skin is removed. It is possible to experience nerve damage, an infection, or a hematoma, which is why it is important to always work with a board certified plastic surgeon. Healing takes around two weeks for an individual to get back to their normal routine. However, it can take a full year for the swelling, changes in skin sensation, and bruising of the skin to resolve.
Eyelid Lift. An eyelid lift can correct the looseness and sag that happens to the tone and shape of eyelids over time. The surgeon will remove extra fat, muscle, and skin from both the upper and lower eyelid to correct the shape of each eye. Eyelids may feel sore or tight for just two weeks, yet a person can return to normal activities just 10 days after the procedure.
Brow Lift. The surgical removal of excess fat and skin, and tightening of muscles located in the forehead region. The procedure can correct a forehead that is sagging or one that has deep furrows between the eyes. Oftentimes it is done in conjunction with a facelift. The initial healing of the wound only takes around two week. It does take several months for a complete recovery.
Facial contouring procedures commonly include the following:
Rhinoplasty (nose job). Nose reshaping enhances the facial harmony and proportions of the nose. It may also correct impaired breathing caused by defects in the structure of the nose. A splint or packing may be placed inside the nose, and another splint may be placed on the outside to support the new structure during the healing process. Swelling will go away after a few weeks. It may take up to a year for the new nasal contour to fully refine.
Chin/Cheek/Jaw Enhancement. This procedure is sought out by people who would like to enhance certain facial features, or who would like to bring a specific part of the face into proportion with the rest of the face. A surgeon will insert an implant into the area to redefine the appearance of the chosen area. Most individuals return to daily activities within a week, yet it may take months for a full recovery and healing.
How long does it take to recover from breast enhancement procedures?
Breast augmentation, reconstruction, reduction and lifts take anywhere from four weeks to a year to fully recover. Scars will fade but in some instances, they may not disappear completely. Here is a deeper look at the different types of procedures.
Augmentation. This procedure increases the size, shape, or fullness of the breast. The surgeon may place saline, silicone, or an alternative composite breast implant under the breast tissue or chest muscles. The implants generally last from seven to twelve years. Individuals may have to wear a support bra as they heal. It will take around four to six weeks for a person to return to their average daily activities. Scars will diminish over time but will never fully go away.
Reconstruction. The goal of this procedure is to restore both or one breasts to normal shape, appearance, symmetry, and size. This is typically performed after a mastectomy, lumpectomy, or a congenital deformity. It is often done in multiple procedures performed in stages. There are implant-based reconstruction and flap reconstruction techniques that use an individual’s own tissue from another part of the body to form a new breast. Bandages will be placed on wounds after the procedure is finished and an elastic bandage or support bra is used to minimize swelling in the affected areas. Patients can perform daily activities after a month or so. Healing will continue and scar lines will improve eventually, but they will never disappear completely.
Reduction. This procedure is used for reducing the size of large breasts. A surgeon will remove excess breast fat, glandular tissue, and skin to acquire a breast size that is more proportional to the rest of the body. It is also sought out to alleviate the discomfort associated with excessively large breasts. Dressings will be applied to the incisions. A support bra is typically worn to minimize swelling and support the breasts as they heal. It takes around six weeks for an individual to return to normal daily activities, and scars will diminish greatly after a year.
Lift. A breast lift or mastopexy is a procedure conducted to raise a sagging breast upon the chest of a woman. A surgeon will modify or change the size, contour, and elevation of the breasts. Numbness and difference in skin sensitivity will last for around six weeks. Scars will show for roughly a year and fade, but they will not diminish completely.
How do you prepare for care after plastic surgery?
Reconstructive or cosmetic plastic surgery is able to help individuals of all ages. It can help a child living with a congenital birth defect, a young adult injured in an accident, or an older individual affected by aging. If you are interested in getting a reconstructive or cosmetic procedure done, remember to properly prepare prior to surgery with a well-thought out care plan. Always discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your surgeon or physician.
If you have a procedure planned, NurseRegistry has in-home nurses available to help ensure a smooth and successful recovery. We have highly skilled nurses available for overnight care after a surgical procedure, short term 24/7 care, or short visits to clean and dress wounds. Our nurses are experienced in a full range of skilled care services, including post-surgical care and pain management. Call us at 650-462-1001 to learn more about how NurseRegistry can ensure a smooth recovery for you or a loved one.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons offers education and a list of great resources.
More resources for patients can be found at the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery webpage.
Education and resources can be found at the American College of Surgeons site.