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How Do I Know If My Side Effects After Surgery are Normal?

Accredited plastic surgeons perform hundreds of types of procedures to help their patients get the look they want to achieve, or repair injuries due to burns, scarring, major facial damage, etc.
In any type of surgery, complications can occur, but the doctor usually provides detailed post-op instructions on what to do to fully recover and mitigate any possible unwanted complications or side effects.

A reputable cosmetic surgery center will offer you guidance and advice, as well as aftercare in some cases. Most surgery patients recover without incident, but if you feel you are having complications you should address them immediately.

Some of the warning signs of severe complications are as follows:

  • Excessive Swelling: Normally swelling occurs for 1-2 weeks after surgery, and usually begins to decrease 2-4 days after the procedure. Swelling is a normal occurrence after surgery, but if it increases it could indicate a serious problem. If you notice redness or inflammation around the incision, it is especially important to notify your doctor.
  • Severe Discomfort or Pain: Some degree of pain is usually always associated with surgery, but usually is not severe and it should start to diminish in the first two days. If the pain does not begin to fade after two days or so, it could indicate infection or other serious complications. Your surgeon should be contacted immediately if the pain persists.
  • Bruising that Doesn’t Begin to Disappear or Spreads: Bruising may last up to two weeks, but should lessen after that. If it does not, and darkens or spreads, it could be a sign of a hematoma, or other post-surgical complications and your doctor should be notified.
  • Fever: Running a high fever after surgery is usually indicative of an infection. If you notice tenderness, redness, or pain around the incision could be a sign of infection. Any fever, especially a high fever would also indicate infection and your doctor should be notified immediately. The good news is, that infections can usually be controlled with antibiotics, but your doctor needs to be notified immediately so they can be prescribed before the condition worsens.
  • Excessive Bleeding: Bleeding is also normal right after cosmetic surgery and other types of medical procedures. In most cases bleeding will decrease, or stop, within 48 hours. If the bleeding continues, or your incisions begin to bleed again it could be due to healing issues and your doctor needs to know as soon as possible.
  • Unusual Pus or Drainage: In some particular types of surgery, your surgeon will put in a drain to reduce inflammation and/or swelling. Usually the fluid you see in these drains is clear to a light yellow in color. If you notice that the fluid is dark, or has a bad or unusual odor, this could be a sign of infection and you doctor should be notified right away. After the drain is removed, still monitor the site for any discharge of fluid or pus. Notify your doctor immediately if anything even looks odd to you. If you doctor knows the facts, he or she will know if it is normal, but also have the time to treat it effectively.

What Should I Do If I Feel I am not Recovering Normally or have Side Effects to My Surgery?

Overall, the side effects for cosmetic surgeries are rare, and there are tens of thousands of procedures done each year. According to a review of over 25,000 cases in 2018, complications only occurred in less than one percent (1%) of the outpatient procedures. During your initial consultation with your doctor and throughout the follow-up appointments, your surgeon should explain the signs of trouble you should look out for in regards to your specific surgery.

As with most all surgeries, complications occur with a higher frequency in certain groups of people with certain common habits in their lifestyle. As an example, smokers, older adults with underlying conditions, and obese people all have a higher risk of complications occurring after cosmetic surgery.

You can seriously help yourself in reducing the side effects in your surgery by fully vetting your doctor and their credentials. Also, by getting the information on just where (in a hospital or in their office for instance) they would be doing the procedure, and their incidence of complications. These figures are usually available.

As a guide:

  • Most reliable plastic surgeons will provide you with a full consultation before your surgery, and go over all your questions, concerns, and the risks involved (including those that may be due to your overall general health).
  • Make sure your surgeon has a record of helping those who want top-notch service and natural looking results that will help boost their self esteem.
  • Do your best in determining that where they do the procedure is certified and will provide a safe environment in which you can undergo your procedure.
  • Make sure your surgeon and staff are always willing to help and actively involved in your care and encourage you to ask questions.

How Can I be Most Assured of having a Recovery Free of Side Effects?

As discussed, any type of cosmetic surgery (or other types) include risks or possible side effects that can be mild or severe. They are rare, but no one can absolutely guarantee they won’t occur.

If you apply the following conditions however, you can increase your chances of a side effect free procedure:

  • Vet your surgeon, making sure he or she is board-certified in plastic surgery. How many years of experience does he or she have, and how many cases have been done?
  • Do your best to make sure that the procedure is to take place in a safe place and is certified to do your surgery. Some doctors have in-office operating suites that are fully certified and very safe.
  • You should have a doctor who encourages patients to be actively involved in their care. A doctor who wants their patients to speak up and ask questions of anyone in their organization is likely more trustworthy because they are transparent and open about their practice.

If you approach your cosmetic surgical procedure with diligence, whether in the Boston area or any other part of Massachusetts, you should get a cosmetic surgeon who is not only consistent in helping patients regain their confidence and self esteem, but also highly regarded and experienced. This will greatly decrease your risks and give you the best chance to get the results you are looking for.

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