Many of my patients at Cosmetic Surgery Affiliates in Oklahoma City plan their cosmetic surgery around the holidays. Sometimes the surgery may even be a holiday gift. In addition to having vacation time off of work to recover, their family members often do as well, and can serve as care providers during their recovery. Although my patients are well prepared for the surgery and the recovery process, their care providers are not always. Although I am a cosmetic surgeon, and most of my advice is from a surgeon’s perspective, I have also been a patient, and a caregiver after surgery for loved ones and close friends. Below are a few tips and pearls about being a good post-operative care provider.
Be supportive. Although this sounds simple, just being present and providing encouragement can be one of the most important things for someone undergoing elective cosmetic surgery.
If possible go to consultation appointment with the patient. This not only provides support for the patient, but also gives you an opportunity to educate yourself about surgery. You can learn what is being done, how long the surgery will be, what garments may be required post-operatively, what the typical timeline for recovery is, and gives you a chance to review the post-inoperative instructions.
Ask questions. Even if you are unable to attend a pre-operative consultation, ask questions day of surgery. Make sure you understand the typical timeline for recovery, the normal post-operative course, and any red flags to look out for. Also what what things you can do to help, such getting extra pillows to help sleep more upright, or helping the patient get up to walk at regular intervals.
Fill prescriptions ahead of time. If possible, ask your surgeon if you can pick up any prescriptions ahead of time and get them filled. This will be one less step to do while taking care of your loved one, and no fear of the patient being in pain while waiting to get the medication. This also gives you a chance to familiarize yourself with the different medications and to how what each one if for and how often to give it. As Cosmetic Surgery Affiliates, we often give several post-operative medications including one for pain, one for a muscle relaxer, and one for nausea.
Nutrition. The body requires more calories when healing after a surgery than it normally does. Additionally, it is important for patients to stay well hydrated after surgery. Unfortunately, anesthesia and pain medication can make patients feel nauseated and not feel like eating. Stock up ahead of time on items like easy to eat snacks, Gatorade, Pedialyte, and extra protein.
Don’t freak out. Lastly, be prepared that after cosmetic surgery, the patient can look a like “Frankenstein-y”. In fact that should be expected immediately after surgery. Although each day and each week, the patient will continue to look better and better, it can often take three to six months to reach a final result.
Elective surgeries are very commonly scheduled around summer vacations and holidays to utilize vacation time for recovery. Patients have often mentally ready for the surgery and recovery process; however, it is important that care givers must also be prepared. If you or a loved one is planning on having surgery soon, I hope these tips will help you better prepare for the post-operative journey.