To say cosmetic and surgical procedures are trivialised in today’s world is an understatement. While we’re all familiar with the physical before-and-after transformations and even the layout of an operating room, no one’s Instagramming the lifestyle adaptations and common complications that become the realities of the recovery period.
Dr Hagen Schumacher at MyAesthetics says we need to remember that cosmetic interventions are serious procedures and “poor preparation can result in unnecessarily extended recovery time and even hinder quality or longevity of results”. Here, the expert consultant cosmetic surgeon tells us everything to know when you’re considering a surgery.
1. There are risks associated with cheap surgeries abroad
Sure, the price points can be pleasing but the aftercare may not be straightforward. “Some overseas clinics may not provide follow-up treatment of the same standard in the UK – if at all – and many will not have healthcare professionals based here if issues occur,” Dr Schumacher warns. “When making enquiries, ask how complications would be handled, what would happen if you needed revision surgery and how much it might cost.” Also check if your own travel insurance will cover it. “Ordinary travel insurance will not cover you if something goes wrong during or after planned treatment abroad.”
2. Quitting smoking is compulsory
We’re talking before, during and after surgery – for some time. “Nicotine causes the blood vessels to constrict, reducing them in size and restricting blood supply to organs and tissues which can stop wounds from healing post-surgery. In addition, carbon monoxide impairs oxygen delivery to the tissues and cyanides in smoke impair tissue utilisation of oxygen,” Dr Schumacher explains. In fact, “the complication rate risk has been reported to increase two-to-three fold and, according to a recent study, smokers needed 33 percent more anaesthesia during an operation and 23 percent more pain medication afterwards, compared with people who don’t smoke.”
3. You need to stock up on vitamins
You might also be unaware that, “some supplements are recommended prior to surgery because they increase the body’s ability to heal, build new collagen, and decrease swelling,” Dr Schumacher says. Supplements recommended before and after include:
– Vitamin A: 10,000–25,000 IU per day, beginning a week before surgery (unless you are pregnant)
– Vitamin C: 500–1000 mg per day, beginning at least a week before surgery
– Bromelain: 500–1000 mg per day, beginning a week before surgery
– Arnica Montana: “A homeopathic remedy to help with bruising or soreness that can be taken in pellet or tincture form beneath the tongue. There is no strong evidence this works, but many patients feel this helps with healing.”
4. You’ll need to book the recommended time off work
This is a given, but you need to know how long you’re initially taking off. Also, consider whether you’re comfortable being honest with your employer and colleagues about your absence – and if not, your strategy. For popular cosmetic surgery procedures, Dr Schumacher says you’re looking at:
– One week for a breast augmentation, lift or reduction
– One week for liposuction
– Three-to-four weeks for a tummy tuck
– Two weeks for a facelift or eyelid surgery
5. Why pain control is so important
“In addition to keeping you comfortable, pain control can help speed up your recovery and reduce developing complications such as pneumonia and blood clots” Dr Schumacher explains. “However, they are not completely risk-free and you may experience side-effects such as nausea, vomiting, itching, and drowsiness.” You may receive multiple pain treatments, depending on your needs and the type of surgery you are having. Below are commonly used.
– Intravenous patient-controlled analgesia (PCA): “This is a computerised pump that safely permits you to push a button and deliver small amounts of pain medicine into your IV line. PCA provides stable pain relief in most situations”.
– Patient-controlled epidural analgesia: “This uses a PCA pump to deliver pain-control medicine into an epidural catheter that is placed into your back”.
– Nerve blockers: “Unlike an epidural, which controls pain over a broad area of your body, a nerve block controls pain isolated to a smaller area of your body, such as an arm or leg”.
– Oral pain medications: “At some point during your recovery from surgery, your doctor will prescribe pain medications to be taken by mouth. These may be ordered to come at a specified time, or you may need to ask your nurse to bring them to you.”
6. Consider side-effects and revision surgeries
Ask your potential surgeon about side-effects, as well as their surgery revisions rates; how often they need to correct undesirable results or treat complications.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR UK.