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How Long Will My Recovery Be?

photo of a woman in sleepwear relaxing in bed at home

Everything You Need to Know About Post-Surgical Healing Time

One of the most commonly asked questions we get at The Plastic Surgery Clinic is about recovery, which totally makes sense. As much as you want your surgery, life doesn’t stop. You have a life that might include a very busy job, kids, family members who depend on you, an exercise regime, a social life, and the list goes on. A busy life keeps you on your toes, so it’s totally normal to want to know when you’ll be back on your feet and feeling yourself again so that you can attend to all those responsibilities.

We’d love to give you a simple answer, but when it comes to recovery time following a surgery, it really all depends. It depends on which surgery you’ve undergone, whether you had any complications during surgery (super rare, by the way), and it depends on you and your body, how closely you follow post-operative guidelines (extremely important for a speedy recovery!) and how quickly your body heals overall.

Since we can’t give you a simple answer, we thought we’d put together a list of our top surgeries and an idea of recovery times for each. As a general rule of thumb, the shorter your surgery the shorter your recovery time, and the longer your surgery and the more complex (i.e. combination surgeries, where you have multiple surgeries done at once) the longer your recovery time will be.

Breast Augmentation Recovery Time

We wouldn’t quite say that recovery after any surgery is ‘easy’ so to speak, but if we were to rank surgical recovery times by difficulty levels, we’d probably say that recovery after a breast augmentation is on the easier side. And in some sense, this goes for any breast surgery that you have done, from a breast lift to a breast reduction, healing times and degrees of discomfort are similar.

With a breast augmentation one full week off from work and your regular activities is mandatory. This also means if you have kids, you’ll need to get extra help to care for them during this time. You’ll have to stay away from any kind of exercise for one month post op. After a month you can start exercising again, but take it slow, nothing too high impact. We’re talking gentle exercise like walking and Stairmaster.

Healing Time After Liposuction

Liposuction is also on the easier side when it comes to recovery times. Again, one full week off work and regular activities is mandatory. And when we say one full week off work and other responsibilities, we mean you are literally relaxing in bed or on the couch reading a book or watching TV while others cook for you and take care of your kids. Running around and doing laundry and picking up after your kids is not allowing yourself to heal.

Here’s the thing: you must take this first week off after your surgery to rest, it’s the only way you will actually heal and recover. You can’t be kind of half doing things during this time. Trust us. TAKE THE WEEK, even if you feel well enough to do stuff. Let all of your energy be directed towards your recovery, and remember what a positive difference that will make.

After one month, you can resume gentle exercise, which means walking (not running) on the treadmill, or anywhere else for that matter. After about six weeks you’ll probably be able to resume a more strenuous exercise regime. Just keep in mind that with liposuction you’ll need to wear a compression garment for about six weeks after your surgery. This will also help speed up the healing process, so it’s extremely important to wear it.

And don’t worry, we give you lots of clear instructions to follow, you’ll have post-op visits with us, and so you won’t have to worry about forgetting or missing any details.

Tummy Tuck Recovery Time

Ok, so the tummy tuck is a little more challenging when it comes to the recovery process. It’s more complex as a surgery given its location and what’s required of the procedure itself. What affects the tummy tuck recovery is whether or not a muscle repair was done, how much tissue was removed, if liposuction was done and if so to what extent.

If you’re planning on getting the tummy tuck, you’ll most likely need to take about 2 weeks off of work and your regular activities. The tummy tuck is tough, because patients cannot stand straight for two weeks; they must maintain a bend at the hip until we tell them otherwise. Your abdomen will be swollen and pretty tender, so you’ll really need a good support system in place especially in the immediate days following your surgery.

In abdominoplasty surgery at The Plastic Surgery Clinic, we use staples and they are removed at 5-6 days post-op (no sooner and no later than that). The subcuticular and deep dermal stitches are absorbable. The tummy tuck is one of those surgeries where everyone really is different and heals at different speeds. Some patients feel well enough to go back to work after two weeks, but some don’t, and prefer to take a little longer—sometimes as much as a month before they go back.

In general, after a tummy tuck it’ll take weeks not days to feel like yourself again, anywhere from 3-6 weeks. At the beginning we don’t recommend exercise right away—ten steps an hour only, to keep your blood circulating, but no walking outside. Nothing intense for at least six weeks. And you’ll likely need to wear a support garment after this one too, for about six weeks.

We’ll tell you this much: the tummy tuck is demanding when it comes to recovery, but the results are truly astounding and totally worth it.

Recovery After a Mommy Makeover

The mommy makeover recovery time is similar to the tummy tuck recovery because it typically includes an abdominoplasty. The mommy makeover is a combination surgery customized to every individual patient that might include a breast lift and/or augmentation, liposuction and a tummy tuck.

That said, with this surgery, you’re actually looking at a shorter recovery time than if you were to have all of these procedures done separately, which is why this surgery is actually one of our most popular at The Plastic Surgery Clinic. You get two or more procedures, but your recovery time is similar to that of the tummy tuck alone, and not the recovery time of all of them added together.

So you’re looking at approximately 2 weeks off work and regular activities, maybe more, and about 6 weeks to feel “normal” again and be able to do more vigorous forms of exercise.

Facelift & Rhinoplasty Recovery

We decided to put these two surgeries together as they are our two most popular procedures that involve the face, and they have similar recovery times.

These two surgeries are a little different from the surgeries we’ve been talking about up until now that involve different parts of the body. The facelift and rhinoplasty, although on the easier end of the scale when it comes to healing and recovery time, are also the most visible. Surgeries where the body is involved are easier to cover up, whereas the face is a little more difficult to conceal.

So although you’re looking at about a week off work and regular activities for both of these surgeries and approximately about a month before you can do any strenuous forms of exercise, you can expect to have various degrees of swelling, bruising and discomfort following each of these procedures.

For the facelift in particular, we find that some of our patients prefer 10 days to two weeks off before they return to work, after which any bruising they have can more easily be concealed with make-up. With rhinoplasty the majority of your swelling and bruising will have subsided within two weeks of your surgery, and although most patients feel comfortable going back to an office job or school within a week, it usually takes about a month to feel like your normal self again.

While most significant swelling dissipates within the first two weeks of recovery, your nose will be very subtly swollen for several months that follow, especially in the tip of the nose. When we say subtle here, we mean really subtle. Most likely only you and your surgeon will be able to spot the difference.

Recovery vs. Results

So, the thing about surgery at The Plastic Surgery Clinic is that it’s very black and white. A well-articulated post-operative routine is as important as the surgery itself for best outcome. This is why we are so amazing—because we’ve been doing this for so long and our post-op care has been fine-tuned.

We want to remind anyone undergoing any of these or other transformative surgeries to be patient with themselves and their bodies. Here we gave you a breakdown of when you can more or less return to work and your daily activities, but the ballpark times we offered here aren’t necessarily the same as when you’ll be able to see the full results of your surgery.

The full effect of your final result will take a bit longer. You’ll see your results improve in the weeks and months following your surgery for most of these procedures, but your full result will probably be most visible within six months to a year following your surgery. We promise that it is well worth the wait 🙂

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