Although our Dallas plastic surgery patients are advised that they will experience some bruising and swelling in the weeks after surgery, many find themselves counting down the number of days until these side effects will dissipate. Further, many patients find themselves on the Internet searching for ways to minimize post-operative bruising and swelling and make it go away as fast as possible. Although a certain degree of bruising and swelling is to be expected after surgery, there are some steps that patients can take to limit these effects.
Bruising after plastic surgery can be ugly, especially the first few days after surgery – and especially when the bruising is in a visible area such as the face. For three to four days after surgery, the bruising will be a dark black, purple, or blue. By day five and six, the bruising should begin to lighten and take on a green, brown, or yellow color. As the days pass, the skin should return to normal. Bruising is usually completely gone two weeks after surgery.
Like with bruising, swelling will be at its worst the first few days after surgery. The swelling will begin to go down one week after surgery. By two weeks post-op, about 75 percent of the swelling should be gone. By six weeks after surgery, it is estimated that 90 percent of the swelling will dissipate. The lingering swelling will go down over the next few months.
Reducing Bruising and Swelling
To reduce the appearance of post-operative bruising and swelling, it is critical that patients enact their at-home care routine prior to and immediately after surgery. Since patients are not feeling their best when they get home from surgery, it is a good idea to go shopping for supplies and have everything you need for your recovery period easily accessible.
- Ice packs or cold compresses: Apply a soft ice pack to the area that was operated on.
- Keep your head elevated: For the first two or three days after surgery, keep your head elevated while sleeping. Have plenty of pillows so you can prop yourself up in a comfortable manner.
- Drink water: Drink the recommended amount of water to flush your system.
- Consider taking arnica montana or bromelain: Talk to Dr. Mark Deuber to find out if taking arnica montana or bromelain supplements is appropriate. These herbs are thought to reduce post-surgical bruising and swelling.
- Limit activity: Overexerting yourself in the first couple of weeks after surgery can worsen bruising and swelling and delay healing.
- Don’t smoke: Smoking cigarettes slows wound healing and increases your risk of post-surgical complications. Do not smoke for several weeks before and after surgery.
- Avoid blood thinning medications: Certain medications, herbs, and vitamins affect the blood. Even common products such as Aleve, vitamin E, and St. John’s Wort thin the blood. Be sure to let Dr. Deuber know what medications, vitamins, and herbs you are taking so he can let you know if they are safe for use.
- Avoid salicylates: Did you know that foods that are high in salicylates affect the blood, and therefore can encourage bruising? Avoid foods that are high in salicylates, such as green pepper, olive, mushrooms, tomato, radish, apricots, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, dates, guava, and raisins.