The steps to recovery from fat reduction surgery aren’t complicated, but they do take some discipline and commitment. As with any major surgery, there is going to be the threat of complications, and you’ll want to be sure that you’re doing everything just right for taking care of yourself.
In this article we’re going to look at the # essential steps to recovering from fat reduction surgery, which include everything from pre planning before your surgery, to eating and hydrating with the right foods and beverages, to planning your time post surgery, which will include knowing what clothes to wear, what bandages to clean and manage, how to wash yourself, what complications to look out for, and what to expect from your doctor in post-op care.
Too often we see patients who are investigating the process of fat reduction surgery and they think that the post-op recovery from fat reduction surgery is going to be effortless and easy. Part of this is because they know that we use minimally invasive techniques and treat your body as kindly and as gently as we would want someone to treat ours. But the other part of it is that they simply don’t realize the commitment it takes to process a surgery like this.
So what do you need to do to prepare for fat reduction surgery recovery? Here are three big things that we find many patients don’t think about.
No, this kind of surgery is not the type of weight loss surgery that puts you on a liquid diet or makes you eat tiny portions because we’ve shrunk the size of your stomach. No, your stomach (and your appetite) is going to be the same size as ever. This is why you need to be prepared post surgery with foods you can eat that will be healthy in both the long run, and will help you heal in the short run.
And you’re going to want to have all of these things on-hand before you head out the door toward the surgical center, because right after surgery is not the time that you’re going to want to be going grocery shopping.
So what foods are good for post-fat reduction surgery?
For starters, you will need to stay hydrated, and the best hydration after fat reduction surgery is water. You may be tempted by sports drinks or diet sodas, but water is going to be your best friend during the recovery phase. So if you don’t already have a water bottle you can keep next to you in bed, get one, and make sure that you’ve got a steady stream of good, pure water flowing.
Next are the foods you should be eating, and the good news is that some of these aren’t bad at all for recovering from fat reduction surgery. You’ll want foods that are natural anti-inflammatories, and this means dark chocolate (yum!)–in moderation of course.
You’ll also need a protein-rich diet to help heal the surgical wounds and regenerate skin and muscle tissue. The proteins listed here are also good at reducing inflammation: salmon, tuna, sardines, and other fatty fish. Beans and legumes will be a good protein boost, and nuts and seeds make a great protein-rich snack. You can have red meat in moderation, and lean meat such as chicken breast. If your doctor recommends it, and you’re having trouble getting protein other ways, protein powders can also help.
Berries will be your go-to sweet snack post-recovery–berries of all kinds–and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, arugula, kale, collard greens, etc.
You’ll also want a multivitamin, and if you have any questions about which kind to take, ask your doctor.
After fat reduction surgery you may be asked to wear a compression garment all day and all night, only to be removed for washing. Some people find the compression to be gentle and comforting and some find it restrictive and bothersome. You’ll want to make sure that you have clothes that can accommodate the compression garment: typically loose clothes (and obviously you don’t want to wear a shirt showing your midriff if your midriff is covered in a compression garment). This isn’t too much of a big deal–you don’t need to buy a new wardrobe to accommodate fat reduction surgery recovery–but make sure you have clean clothes ready at home (you won’t want to be doing laundry) and make sure you have options depending on how you feel.
Know that you won’t be able to submerge yourself (take baths) for at least the first 7 to 10 days after fat reduction surgery. Showers only. This will be the only time when you’re allowed to remove the compression garment.
You must be very careful because, even though the surgery is minimally invasive, the threat of infection is real and you must take care of your incision locations. Make sure that you’re using the antibiotics recommended by your doctor as prescribed. Your doctor will give you strict guidelines on how to take care of the incision sites, and you should follow these to the letter. This includes cleaning them, dressing them, and protecting them as they may or may not drain.
Be aware that if your incision site gets red, swollen or warm, or if it drains or bleeds excessively (your doctor will instruct you how much is excessive) you’ll need to call Quinn Plastic Surgery & Aesthetic Center right away.
Your plan post-surgery will include knowing what you need to do in the next two weeks to a month, and what you should restrict yourself from doing.
In the first two weeks after surgery, you need to do the things we’ve been talking about above, including making sure you clean and dress the incision, wear the compression garment, and have follow-up appointments with your doctor. The first follow-up appointment will be approximately one week after your operation.
Even though the surgery is minimally invasive, you’ll want to take some time off of your responsibilities, even if you work from home. Surgery can be stressful and tiring, and you want to be at your best for work and social plans. While there’s nothing wrong with inviting a friend over to binge Netflix with you, you shouldn’t be stressing about going to meetings or getting projects done for at least a few days. Take time for your own wellness.
After the first two weeks, you can begin to return to normal life (following the doctor’s guidelines, of course). This may include being able to submerge your body in a bath. Your doctor may have you begin light exercise, including walking and stretching. You will likely still see inflammation at this point, but that’s normal.
If your doctor tells you anything that contradicts what we’re saying in this article, you may be a special case and the doctor’s advice should take priority.
Take all of your prescriptions as they have been prescribed to you, including antibiotics and pain medication. You need to absolutely take all of your antibiotics, the full course, even if it looks like everything is healing well and you’re feeling fine. On the other hand, your doctor may recommend that you only take the pain medicine as needed, and when you don’t feel you require it, you can stop.
Remember that the better you follow your doctor’s advice post-op the fewer and smaller your scars will be. Doing too much activity too soon, or not wearing the compression garment, or not taking care of the incision can all result in larger-than-usual scarring.
Your doctor will also tell you that before and after your surgery you should stop smoking and drinking alcohol as a way to help you heal more quickly. Smoking decreases blood flow and alcohol can dry out your skin as well as altering your body chemistry.
Recovering from fat reduction surgery is a matter of being prepared and following the doctor’s directions. You need to make a plan before you go into surgery for the things that you are going to need: food, clothes, hygiene. But you also need to make a plan coming out of surgery for the things that you’re going to need to do in the two weeks and month post-op. And, of course, you will need to follow the doctor’s direction in those critical times to make sure that while you’re changing the bandages, managing your pain, and caring for the surgical sites, you’re doing everything that is medically responsible.
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When you commit to your beauty journey, you are choosing to take how the world sees you into your own hands. That’s an empowering feeling. Dr. Quinn and his team at Quinn Plastic Surgery & Aesthetic Center are here to honor that commitment and help you achieve the best results for you and your body. These are your decisions. Our role is to help you make the most of them. Schedule a consultation today to get started on your beauty journey.
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