How to Cope with Post-Surgery Blues
While feelings of mild depression, anxiety, and/or uncertainty post-surgery are unpredictable, there are measures patients can take to reduce their likelihood. Communicating with your plastic surgeon — both before and after a cosmetic procedure — is key. Considering the following advice could also foster a smoother recovery.
1. EDUCATE YOURSELF
Learn as much as possible about your procedure beforehand by asking plenty of questions during your consultation and pre-op appointments and by conducting your own research. Knowing what to expect and having realistic expectations about your results can help keep you calm during recovery.
2. PLAN AHEAD
The key to resting without stress or guilt is to prepare as much as possible beforehand. Prepare meals, arrange transportation, and put friends on standby prior to procedures.
3. DON’T SUFFER IN SILENCE
While it’s important to understand that your feelings are likely completely normal, it’s wise to share them with your physician and supportive friends and family members. Don’t be nervous to share your feelings with your support system.
4. GET OUT OF BED
While many people envision their recovery period as an opportunity to stay in bed all day and binge Netflix, being too sedentary can hamper healing. Instead, be active. Even short, gentle walks around the house can stimulate mood-boosting brain activity. Set an around the clock walking schedule specifically for the first week of every 4hrs.
Practicing mindfulness not only helps increase positive feelings — it’s also been proven to aid in the physical healing process. The concept of neuroplasticity tells us that the brain is constantly adapting. Using relaxation techniques and guided imagery can increase well-being by reminding your brain to focus its energy on healing.
6. STAY AWAY FROM THE MIRROR
We know this is a tough one, but do your best to not overly scrutinize your surgical site. Monitor your progress as directed by your doctor to ensure you are healing properly, but do not obsess. The healing process often gets worse before it gets better. I tell patients that swelling is like a checkerboard. It doesn’t come in uniformly, and it doesn’t leave uniformly. While you’re going through the healing process, you’re going to see small differences in certain areas.
7. MEDICATE ONLY AS DIRECTED
Controlling your pain is a key component of a comfortable recovery, but prescription pain medications can have both physical and emotional side effects. Weaning off pain meds will allow the body to start detoxing, and many patients find they get necessary relief with over-the-counter remedies as soon as one or two days post-op (again, always adhere to your surgeon’s advice). Gentle exercise (in accordance with your doctor’s recovery plan) and meditation can also ease or distract from discomfort — no pills necessary.
8. BE A PATIENT PATIENT
Healing takes time — it’s sometimes two steps forward, one step back — so practice being kind to yourself. Dolls should expect to encounter some minor setbacks, like renewed swelling, as a result of basic things like sleeping on one side or resuming normal workouts, and it shouldn’t be a cause for concern. Don’t lose patience. Get past that attitude of expecting immediate results and remember that positive change takes time.
9. FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE
Don’t let stress, guilt, or impatience allow you to lose sight of why you made the decision to have cosmetic surgery in the first place. Instead, imagine the weeks and months down the road when your recovery will start to be a thing of the past. Envision the positive changes — whether or not they are visible yet.
Our goal is for you to normalize your feelings and to embrace that it’s ok to not be ok. Among the traditional things you can do to offset your thoughts is with the exercise book written specifically for the Plastic Surgery Community “Positive Affirmations for a healthy Plastic Surgery Journey”.
This book goes on the journey with you and helps you to navigate your thoughts, redirecting the negative ideas to positive ones. From money goals, confidence in your decisions, losing weight, and being strong enough to endure and heal.
10. TRUST THE PROCESS
You’ve got to have faith. Remember: Your body is designed to heal itself, and your plastic surgeon has taken every measure to promote a positive outcome. Feeling confident about your surgeon’s past results will help to ease your mind.