Should I Be Nervous About Surgery?

It is totally expected to have some butterflies or apprehension and leading up to surgery. Remember, this is surgery! I’ve had many patients who after the fact tell me that their nerves leading up to surgery were way worse than the procedure or the recovery was. I guess it’s all in their perspective. I find that patients are most often nervous because they don’t know what to expect, or they’re expecting to be in pain following surgery. The best way to work through this is by taking several opportunities to go over your concerns and educate what the entire day of surgery will include start to finish. I find this is best accomplished by giving detailed preoperative and postoperative instructions several days/weeks before the surgical date. Almost every patient gets through the day just fine aided by a friend or family member to help with the little things after you leave the recovery room.

Are There Any Risks to Cosmetic Surgery?

All surgical procedures have risks. Literature has shown that patients think “aesthetic” or “cosmetic” surgery has less down time, less surgical risks, is less invasive, and it is performed by surgeons with less training. These same patients think “plastic” surgery on the other hand has greater downtime, more surgical risk, is more invasive, and is performed by higher trained surgeons. In reality, the surgical risks are directly related to the procedure being performed, regardless of what we call it.

I tell patients on a daily basis that they should walk (or sprint) quickly away from the office of any surgeon that downplays the potential for risks and complications of surgery. In this case we are dealing with living tissue, and there are many variables such as how are your tissues will heal, nutritional status, medications, and how closely you follow postoperative care instructions. It is true that following preoperative and postoperative instructions very carefully can make a huge difference in the likelihood of developing an issue after surgery.

While there is no way that myself or any other surgeon can guarantee you will not have problems following surgery, what I can guarantee is my best efforts preparing you for surgery, performing your surgery, and walking with you through the postoperative period. I promise to be personally invested in taking care of any issues that may arise.

How Much Pain Should I Expect Postoperatively?

Interestingly, facial plastic surgery is typically less painful impatience anticipate. I instruct all patients to take pain medication if needed, which can range from Tylenol up to a narcotic containing Tylenol medication. I appreciate patients trying to be heroic, but if you are in pain, let’s do what we can to treat it appropriately! At the time of surgery, medication is given IV that will help with the pain in the recovery room and shortly thereafter. I suggest all patients fill the prescription for pain medication given to them in our preoperative visit so that they have the medication on hand rather than having to track down the pharmacy and be stressed unnecessarily. Also, I find it is better to keep up on the pain control rather than letting the pain build up too much before trying to treat it.

Remember, there are other things like utilizing ice packs, keeping your head elevated, and relaxation techniques that can help keep you comfortable as well. After many years I have never had a patient that following surgery felt that the pain was so severe and the experience so horrible that they would not have done it over again.

How Long Will it Take Me to Look & Feel normal again?

Most patients start to feel like themselves within a day or two after surgery as the anesthetic wears off. If you are taking a narcotic containing pain medication, you still might not feel totally back to normal even a few days out from surgery. I check in with all my patients the night of surgery, and the next day almost always with an in-office visit to review instructions and answer any questions. By the time the sutures are removed (typically often one week out from surgery) patients are feeling quite good. Some bruising and swelling might still be lingeri, but by the two-week point when all activity restrictions are lifted patients typically feel like returning to exercise and work without issue. As soon as the sutures are removed and the incision lines no longer have any crusting, they can be camouflaged with makeup and other cosmetics.

I definitely do not suggest patients have a facelift two weeks before their child’s wedding, but two weeks out from facelift most people are grocery shopping, going out to eat, and many have returned to work. Eyelid surgery, rhinoplasty, fat transfer, necklift, facial resurfacing, scar revision, and brow lift surgery all tend to be a little bit quicker recovery.

Remember, as your surgeon I am very invested in your great outcome and recovery. There’s no silly question or concern, and if something bothers you I definitely want to know so I can help you through it.

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