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The "Ten Commandments" of Surgical Recovery

american society of plastic surgeons Fellow American college of surgeons American Board of Physician Specialties American College of Surgeons The Aesthetic Society American Society for Mass Spectrometry american cleft palate-craniofacial association International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
american society of plastic surgeons Fellow American college of surgeons American Board of Physician Specialties American College of Surgeons The Aesthetic Society American Society for Mass Spectrometry american cleft palate-craniofacial association american society of plastic surgeons Fellow American college of surgeons American Board of Physician Specialties American College of Surgeons american board of surgery The Aesthetic Society American Society for Mass Spectrometry american cleft palate-craniofacial association International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery

The Trillium Show Podcast with Dr. Jason Hall

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Disclaimer: The discussions on this podcast do not constitute medical advice, an evaluation, or a consultation. Nothing in the podcast episodes should be considered a replacement or substitute for a formal in-office evaluation by Dr. Hall or his associates. Explanation of off-label services and/or products do not constitute promotion and/or endorsement. Information and opinions presented here do not create a formal doctor-patient relationship. Discuss any potential medical procedures or interventions with your physician or surgeon first.

Show Notes

Ten Commandments of Surgical Recovery

I n our last episode, I discussed ten things you need to know before you have cosmetic surgery. I got such a great response to this, that I'm going to follow up with ten more things to help make RECOVERY easier.


  • 00:58 Go for a walk
  • 01:53 Take deep breaths
  • 02:50 Take your medicine
  • 03:39 Don't make big decisions
  • 04:00 Avoid greasy/spicy foods
  • 04:16 Shower
  • 04:59 Really? This is THAT important??
  • 05:35 Leave dressings and drains alone
  • 05:59 Wash your garments
  • 06:24 Don't exercise


Dr. Hall: Welcome to The Trillium Show, where we help you make the changes you want to see in your body, in your mind, and in your life. I'm your host, Dr. Jason Hall.

Dr. Hall: All right, so in the last show, I went over the ten commandments of preoperative surgery, ten pearls you need to know before having cosmetic plastic surgery. This show, I decided to follow up on that because we got such great responses from patients and prospective patients alike, that I wanted to follow up that with ten things you need to know for after cosmetic plastic surgery. So, I hope you enjoy, and if you've got any questions, please let us know.

We're going to go through the ten commandments of postoperative surgery, ten things you really need to be aware of as you are recovering from surgery. So, rule number one is ambulate. Walk. Get up and move around at least an hour or so the day of your surgery. And this is not all at once; this is little bits at a time just walking around the house. But this is especially important if you have had a longer surgery where we risk developing a blood clot in your legs. And that's really the reason to get up and walk is that we do not want you developing a blood clot by just laying around. So, what I tell everybody is that if you need to go to the bathroom, get up and go to the bathroom yourself. If you're thirsty, if you're hungry, if you need to take a pain pill, don't have somebody bring that to you. Make yourself get up, walk to the bathroom, walk to the kitchen, get a drink, and do those things, and use them almost as physical therapy. You'll feel better for it and it also helps to prevent blood clots.

Rule number two is to cough and take deep breaths at least once an hour the days after your surgery. This for patients who have had abdominoplasties, who have had breast surgery is really important because your core your chest is going to be sore to varying degrees and you want to make sure that you're really adequately expanding your lungs to prevent those little lung capsules called alveoli where the air is exchanged from collapsing, which can then lead to pneumonia and problems down the road. Coughing and deep breathing prevents that. One tip is that when you do that, give yourself a hug, really, get a pillow, squeeze it to your chest, to your abdomen, and cough and let that kind of act as a splint so you're pulling against your pillow and not against those muscles that have just been repaired.

Rule number three is take your pain medicine as instructed. So, I like to have patients alternate pain medicine every three hours. So, for example, at noon, take a narcotic pain medicine. Then at three o'clock, take some Motrin. At six o'clock, more narcotics. Nine o'clock, Motrin. So, you're staggering those pain medicines every three hours which keeps your pain level fairly evened out and we don't go through these periods of you know, almost asleep and then hurting and then almost asleep and then hurting and kind of yo-yo-ing back and forth. So, by taking your pain medicine more routinely, we're able to kind of even that out; makes your postoperative course much more comfortable.

Rule number four along those same lines is don't drive, make any important business decisions, or shop online when you're on narcotics. Just a bad idea. Kind of like you don't want to drink and drive: don't take narcotics and shop on Amazon.

Rule number five is don't eat anything greasy or spicy in the day or two after surgery. This is just a common-sense rule to prevent nausea. Your stomach is going to be a little bit queasy after surgery so minimizing really greasy or really spicy foods is just going to help make your recovery easier.

Rule number six is shower after surgery. A lot of patients are very nervous to get incisions wet, if you have drains, to get drains wet. And for me, for my patients, all of those things are designed that you can shower with them. Don't get in a bathtub, don't get in a hot tub, don't submerge your incisions or drains or anything like that, but you can get them wet. The exception is facelift patients with their big head dressing the day of surgery and rhinoplasty patients with a cast. Don't want to get those things wet, so wait till those come off. But you can shower the rest of your body.

Rule number seven—and this is not a joke—poop after surgery. Narcotic pain medicine has a tendency to slow down your digestive tract and can make people constipated. It can be really uncomfortable and cause a lot of problems, so make sure you're taking your stool softeners along with your narcotics, make sure you're getting enough fluid, enough fiber, and make sure that if you haven't had a bowel movement within three or four days after surgery, call us and we can prescribe some things and kind of help direct you to get things moving.

Rule number eight is do not disturb surgical dressings or drains unless we tell you to. You would be surprised that people actually will remove drains on their own, take off surgical dressings and casts and splints, and things like that. They're there for a reason so leave them alone and let us take those off when they're ready.

Rule number nine, if you're in a garment—so for body contouring patients, breast patients, wash it every day. They get gross, they get stinky, and you can—you know, wearing a dirty garment can predispose you to wound infections. So, make sure you clean your garment every day, hang it dry, don't put it in the dryer, or all the stretchiness will get destroyed. And if you need another one, let us know. You can get some here in the office.

And rule number ten is don't exercise until we clear you. We have exercise restrictions that are not there to torture you, they're not there to make you fat and make you lazy, but are there so that you can recover uneventfully and that things heal the way we want them to in the time frame that we want them to. So, hold off. You've spent a lot of time and money on surgery; allow your body time to recover before getting back to the gym or getting back on the trails.

So, those were the ten commandments of postoperative surgery. If you missed the ten commandments of preoperative surgery, you can check those out in another video. And if there are any other topics that you would like to hear discussed on the podcast, in the video, please leave us a comment below or shoot me an email info@drjasonhall.com. Thanks.

Dr. Hall: Thanks for listening to The Trillium Show. You can keep up with the latest on the podcast at jhallmd.com. Be sure to follow us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts. If you want to connect with us on social media, you can find us at @jhallmd on Instagram and Twitter and @DrHallPlasticSurgery on Facebook. Remember, be the change you wish to see in the world.


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