Why Don't I Look the Way I Thought I Would Right After Surgery?
During surgery, injury to your body's tissues occur, whether you have a mole removal or a mommy makeover. This tissue injury is done in a controlled fashion and is necessary to produce the results you are looking for. Nonetheless, the result is swelling. Significant swelling usually starts in the hours after surgery finished-- typically the hours when you are resting or recovering from anesthesia. So, by the time you are aware of how you look, you look swollen, and swelling makes parts of your body look full and poorly defined.
How Much Swelling Will I Have After Surgery?
The amount of swelling that occurs varies due to many factors:
- The area operated on - For example, the nose tends to hold on to some degree of swelling longer than most other areas of the body.
- Blood pressure - The higher your blood pressure is the more fluid will be lost into tissues as swelling. This is also related to activity-- more activity equals more swelling.
- Protein - Increased protein in your diet results in less swelling after surgery.
- Compression and elevation - Compression reduces swelling. This is one reason why Dr. McDaniel uses supportive bras, chin garments, abdominal binders, elastic wraps, and other dressings after surgery. Elevating an area that was operated on (i.e. sleeping in a recliner after facial surgery, keeping legs elevated after thigh lift, etc.) will keep gravity from pulling fluid into the surgical site.
How Long Will it Take for My Swelling to Go Away?
Most swelling is gone by 2 weeks after surgery, and all swelling is gone in most procedures by 2 months after surgery. However, this is not always the case:
- As mentioned above, rhinoplasty surgery takes longer for swelling to completely go away.
- Activity beyond the prescribed restrictions can cause prolonged swelling.
- A blood collection (hematoma) or infection can cause swelling to last longer and be firmer.
- Individual healing may be different under the same circumstances.
What Other Factors Besides Swelling Affect My Final Result?
Scar visibility may be a factor in your appearance. Scars typically take around a year to completely mature (flatten and fade), but this may be longer in some patients.
Breast augmentation patients often require 6 months for implants to "settle" into their final position. This may also happen asymmetrically, with one implant settling sooner than the other.
I Don't Like the Way I Look After Surgery. What Should I Do?
The first thing to do is talk to your surgeon. It may be that what you don't like about your appearance is a normal part of healing and will resolve on its own. On the other hand, there may be an early intervention, such as a steroid injection for thickened scars, that may be helpful. Most of the time, though, waiting for revision until internal and external scar tissue has completed maturing is a good idea to avoid trying to "hit a moving target." This is at least 6 months after your original surgery.