Authored by Revere Health

Improve Plastic Surgery Outcomes With These 4 Postoperative Tips

November 7, 2018 | Value-Based Care

Did you know most complications occur during the first 30 days after a surgical procedure? These complications—most of which are preventable—often lead to unexpected hospital readmissions and ER visits.

Whether your plastic surgery procedure is cosmetic or medical, it’s important to follow these tips to ensure the best possible outcome.

#1. Follow your surgeon’s postoperative instructions

After your procedure, your surgeon will discuss a list of dos and don’ts during the recovery process with you. You may also get a printed list of steps you need to take to promote healing. Following these instructions to a T is critical for not only the outcome of your surgical procedure but also your health because improper care can lead to a variety of complications* including:

  • Hematoma (a collection of blood outside the blood vessel)
  • Nerve damage
  • Infection
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Seroma (a pocket of fluid underneath the surface of your skin)

*The types of complications and your risk of developing them vary based on the procedure you receive, your health status and how you take care of yourself during recovery.

#2. Take your medications as prescribed

…and don’t take any new medications or supplements without consulting your doctor.  Medication noncompliance contributes to billions of dollars in health spending each year. Taking your medications as directed can help prevent unnecessary healthcare costs. It’s also important to be aware of what pain medication(s) you should take and the risks associated with it.

Make sure you fully understand your medication instructions by asking your doctor these questions.

#3. Avoid smoking

Smoking can delay healing, increase your risk of infection and affect tissue survival. If you are a smoker, your surgeon will require you to stop smoking several weeks before your procedure.

Remember, you cannot continue smoking again immediately just because your procedure is complete. You must allow time for your body to heal, and smoking makes it much harder to do so. In fact, the best thing for your health is to quit smoking altogether, but that can be difficult. These techniques may help you:

  • Nicotine replacement therapy
  • Prescription medications
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Self-help and support groups

Talk to your doctor or surgeon about your options.

#4. Know what to look for

Ask your surgeon which postoperative side effects are normal and which may be warning signs of something serious. Constipation, for example, is common after surgery—anesthesia and pain medications are common contributors. Fatigue, poor appetite, swelling and pain are also typical. Your surgeon can tell you how to manage these normal side effects.

Some signs to watch out for include:

  • Fever
  • Drainage from the wound
  • Excessive swelling
  • Bruising that lingers
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Chills
  • Severe pain
  • Hot to touch

Each person is unique and will recover differently than someone else, so don’t hesitate to ask your surgeon questions if you are unsure about any of the instructions or what to expect.

Our physicians are board-certified with the American Board of Plastic Surgery, making them some of the most qualified providers in the nation to handle both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery procedures. Our staff will work with you to determine your options and goals and will make sure you feel comfortable throughout your procedure or treatment.


“Mobile Applications for Postoperative Monitoring After Discharge.” Canadian Medical Association Journal.

“The Most Common Plastic Surgery Complications.” Healthline.

“Adherence and Healthcare Costs.” Risk Management and Healthcare Policy.

“Management of Medical Morbidities and Risk Factors Before Surgery: Smoking, Diabetes, and Other Complicating Factors.” Seminars in Plastic Surgery.

“Surgical Wound Infection – Treatment.” Medline Plus.

The Live Better Team


The Live Better Team

Telehealth is not appropriate for every medical concern, so it’s important to ask your provider whether a virtual visit is suitable for your needs.

Learn more about Telehealth

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.