P atients who undergo cosmetic plastic surgery can have a hard time dealing with the psychological changes that occur after surgery. In this show, I discuss how and why that happens, and what goes on in your head after surgery.
Plastic Surgery is much more than just physical changes. We deal with a lot of emotional challenges, especially in the immediate post operative period.
And this show, really, it's a short one, but it really serves to highlight some of the emotional changes and psychological challenges that some patients can go through in the immediate post operative period. What I want people listening to this to understand that these changes are perfectly normal. They are very predictable. Lots of patients have difficulty dealing with the new image looking back at themselves in the mirror, certainly immediately after having had cosmetic surgery. I think it will be very valuable for anyone who has recently had surgery or for those of you listening who are helping a friend or loved one through the immediate postoperative period. Enjoy!
A lot of plastic surgery focuses on the physical changes that we're able to make with cosmetic plastic surgery. However, not a lot of attention is paid to the psychological and emotional changes that patients go through after surgery.
On this show, I really want to sit and discuss some of those changes in how those changes affect your post operative recovery.
Immediately after surgery, most patients are relieved to have made it through and feel a little rundown. But overall, the first day patients don't feel terrible. When a little bit of doubt starts to creep in is that day after surgery. The next day, and for the first 72 hours after plastic surgery (after any surgery, really), your swelling, bruising, discomfort tends to get a little bit worse each day. The swelling typically peaks at that third day. After the third day is when we see things start to improve. The swelling starts to come down and your discomfort starts to ease up a little bit. That 72 hour span is really kind of a really important window in your plastic surgery recovery.
The first week after surgery can be very hard for some patients, because you can't really do much. If you've had facial surgery or tummy tuck surgery, you're going to be slow to get up and get around. And all of that sitting, all of that boredom and time with really nothing to do leaves the door open for a lot of self doubt to start creeping in. That's when patients start to really question whether their choice to have elective plastic surgery is a good one. For the first week of recovery after having a surgery, you think that things are gonna magically start to get better. And physically, you do start to improve, the swelling has started to go away. The bruising, if there is any bruising has started to resolve, and you feel like things should be getting better. And this is really when the some of the psychological part of recovery can start to be challenging.
When you look in the mirror and the reflection that you're seeing in the mirror doesn't match the image you had in your mind of what you looked like before your surgery - that can be very challenging for people to deal with. One of the things that can help prevent some of that identity crisis (because that's really what that is), is simulating your surgeries beforehand, which works particularly well for patients having facial surgery. I do this a lot with my >rhinoplasty patients. We do a 3D simulation of their surgery and I provide patients with those images to go home. They're able to look at those photos and study them.
I have no scientific data behind this at all, but I feel like it helps those patients except that the face that's looking back at them in the mirror after their surgery is theirs instead of looking like a total stranger. It makes that psychological adjustment during that two or three week period after surgery a little easier. It may not make it go away, but it certainly makes it a little bit easier.
The next phase of recovery is really broken up between three weeks and three months.
During this time, you're starting to cope with your new physical identity. It's starting to become "you". While that's really healthy and beneficial, remember that there is still healing that needs to take place and swelling that needs to resolve.
Your final result isn't quite visible yet.
Specifically with some breast surgeries where we use implants, those implants haven't had a chance to soften and drop a little bit. There will still be some swelling around abdominoplasty sites, especially if we've done some liposuction. And you look in the mirror and think this isn't really that great. Your results are not really what you thought they would be. That is a very normal process to go through. Healing is a very slow process and will take time. You're not going to see the incremental improvements that you make day in and day out during that first three month span.
Because this healing happens slowly, you're not going to be able to appreciate that until you really get a chance to look back at the early before and after pictures and compare them to the "new you".
The last phase of the emotional recovery from plastic surgery really happens in three month to one year span.
As you may not know, it takes about a year for everything to fully heal no matter what surgery you're having. And in that time, certainly after three months, your result is really starting to become apparent, you're comfortable with the "New You", and you like what you see in the mirror. That result just continues to get incrementally better over that next nine month span. And that's when people come back in at the three, four or five month visits after surgery, and are really pleased with their results, especially if they've had a really rough psychological time in the first couple of months after cosmetic plastic surgery.
It's very important that you as a patient or prospective patient, understand the psychological changes that accompany the physical changes that you're looking for, so you don't get worried and upset in that immediate post operative period where you feel you've made a mistake and think that you've done something terribly wrong. Understand that these are all very normal psychological responses to surgery and that they get better.
So I hope you found this helpful. Please let us know in the comments below, or shoot us an email if you have any questions and thanks for watching.
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