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Is It Smart to Use Heat or Ice While Recovering From Plastic Surgery?

Posted March 02, 2022 By: The Office of Birmingham Specialists

Plastic Surgery Recovery

4 Minute Read: 

Heat and ice are staples when it comes to recovering from an injury. Do you have a sore muscle? Make sure to cover it with a heating pad. Did you bump your leg or arm? Put some ice on it. 

Smiling woman in hospital gown talking with doctor and nurse

And while these are good remedies for common bumps, bruises, and strains, it is important to talk about why both heat and ice are not always the best choices during your postoperative care from your plastic surgery procedure

And since there are so many plastic surgeries performed each year (a combined total of over 17 million surgical and minimally invasive procedures in 2020), you need to know what the best recovery practices are for you!

What Is the Purpose of Heat and Ice, and Why Should I Not Use Them After Plastic Surgery?

The reason that heat and ice are suggested after suffering injury really comes down to swelling. 

When heat is applied to an injured area, the blood vessels expand, which promotes swelling. Conversely, when we ice a part of our body, the blood vessels are constricted in that area, making the blood flow slower, which means that less blood will be able to reach the injured area. 

In short, this keeps the injured area from swelling as much. 

It is important to understand what happens to the skin and surrounding areas after cosmetic treatments and plastic surgery.

Cosmetic treatments and surgery are intentional injuries to the body, and we must ensure that the body is healing correctly to limit any ill effects on the body. 

Plastic surgery incisions and non-surgical treatments can cause numbing in the treatment area due to residual effects of anesthesia or temporary injury to the sensory nerves. This loss of sensation can keep your body from properly registering whether your skin is too hot or too cold. Ultimately, this numbness can lead you to suffer skin burns from heat or frostbite from ice.

Cold compresses are sometimes suggested after some plastic surgery procedures. If they are suggested for you, please follow your surgeon’s directions.

If Not Heat or Ice, Then How Should I Recover From My Plastic Surgery Procedure?

Neither heat nor ice are necessary to properly recover from your cosmetic treatment or surgery. Instead, there are plenty of ways to help speed up your recovery time and relieve pain or discomfort. 

Pain Medication

With any cosmetic procedure, some swelling and bruising are expected. Additionally, it is not uncommon for you to experience some discomfort, tenderness, and even slight pain in the days after your procedure. 

You can take medication for pain management, but if pain persists longer than a few days after your procedure, then make sure to contact your plastic surgeon.

Proper Diet and Exercise

After any cosmetic procedure, you want to make sure that you are drinking enough water, and by “drinking enough,” we mean drinking a lot of water. 

Water helps properly circulate your blood and flush out any toxins that may be in your body. Additionally, eating healthy will ensure that you have sustained energy, which will help you recover in a shorter amount of time. 

Also, while you do not want to push yourself too much too soon, light exercise is always helpful for your body’s recovery. This means taking short, slow walks and gently stretching your body; however, make sure that you adhere to all of your postoperative instructions.

Compression Garments and Surgical Bras

The length of your recovery time is dependent on the type of procedure you had, though it is safe to say that each plastic surgery procedure will have a recovery time of several weeks. 

Something to keep in mind is that your recovery time will be increased if you had a combined procedure like a Mommy Makeover, where you are recovering from multiple different surgical procedures at the same time.

You will want to make sure to adhere to all postoperative care instructions. This includes wearing a compression garment if you undergo a body surgery, like a tummy tuck, or wireless support bras if you had breast surgery, such as a breast lift (mastopexy), breast augmentation surgery, or breast reduction surgery

Understanding Your Body

In the end, proper recovery from any plastic surgery is about knowing your body and being smart. Realize that your body has gone through a traumatic experience with your cosmetic procedure, so you need to allow for it to have the proper time to recover. This means resting. 

Don’t put unneeded stress on your body, especially in the areas directly affected by the procedure. You should limit any bending, which can put strain on your incisions and sutures (such as those required for liposuction surgery). Also, make sure not to lift anything of weight or engage in any strenuous activities. 

You will be up and active before you know it, but it is important not to push yourself too fast or have unrealistic expectations.

Are You Interested in Learning More?

If you have questions about any of the cosmetic treatments and plastic surgery procedures offered at the Birmingham Specialists, give us a call at 205-298-8660 or fill out our online contact form here to schedule your consultation