Dr. Branman Awards Dr. Rhys Branman's Cosmetic Surgery Blog

“When Can I Tie My Own Shoes?” and Other Common Post-Surgery Questions

December 5, 2016 - Rhys Branman, MD

Shot of a beautiful young woman relaxing by the window at home

Apart from choosing a qualified cosmetic surgeon, being smart about your recovery is one of the most important ways to ensure optimal healing and great-looking results. However, the first few weeks after cosmetic surgery can test anyone’s patience—you’re feeling confident and excited about your new look, but you have to wait to do some of the fun stuff (yes, this includes sex…keep reading to learn more).

The good news is that many popular procedures require less downtime than you might think. To help ease any anxiety you may have about your plastic surgery recovery, we’ve decided to share some common “When Can I…” questions we hear from patients here at Little Rock Cosmetic Surgery.

First, a little fine print. The timeframes discussed below reflect the typical healthy patient’s recovery. It’s important to understand that recovery is a highly individualized process; how quickly you reach each milestone depends on your body’s natural healing process, the extent of your procedure, and how closely you follow your pre- and post-operative instructions. The bottom line—always get your surgeon’s clearance before resuming any activity.

When can I drive?

You probably know that you will need a trusted adult to drive you home from surgery while the effects of anesthesia wear off. But don’t embark on a road trip the next day either. Driving should be considered completely off-limits until you are done taking prescription pain medication. This may be 2 days, a week, or longer.  Also, make sure you can easily turn your head and neck and wear a seat belt comfortably before getting behind the wheel.

When can I go back to work?

If you think cosmetic surgery means a month without a paycheck, stop worrying now! Most patients are back to work much sooner than that. On average, and depending on the nature of the job, most patients are ready to return to work just a week or two after cosmetic surgery—we’ve had patients return to desk jobs within 3 days after breast augmentation.

If you have a more active job, or one that requires lifting, you may need more time off. Be sure to discuss your job requirements with your cosmetic surgeon, who can give you the best instructions for your unique case.

When can I start exercising again?

Cosmetic surgery patients tend to be fit people who savor their regular workouts, but you’ll have to take a brief hiatus from the gym after surgery. Here’s why: exercise causes a temporary rise in blood pressure, which can strain your healing incisions, even those located in areas you’re not moving during exercise. This can result in delayed healing, bleeding, or more visible scarring down the road.

In general, two to four weeks away from exercise are required after facial surgery, breast enhancement procedures, or liposuction. (Don’t worry, you won’t get too out of shape during this short time!)

Exercise after a tummy tuck, however, requires a longer wait—usually six to eight weeks, because the muscles are affected during surgery. When you do get your surgeon’s okay to break a sweat, don’t be tempted to crush your first workout after surgery. Gradually build back to your previous fitness level over a few weeks to continue optimal healing and prevent injury.

When can I have sex?

One common positive side effect of cosmetic surgery is an increase in self-confidence that can reignite your sense of passion. But you will have to wait just a little while to be intimate with your partner. Engaging in sexual activity after cosmetic surgery can raise your blood pressure, introducing you to the same risks involved in exercising too soon after surgery.

One-on-one contact can also be bad for incision sites that are tender to the touch and need gentle treatment to heal well. So for best results, it’s important to wait until your plastic surgeon tells you it is safe to have sex; typically, this means waiting 1 to 2 weeks after your procedure. Then, let your personal comfort be your guide.

When can I pick up my kids after a mommy makeover?

We know how hard it is to imagine going a single day without picking up your little one. But it’s critical to designate someone else to do the heavy lifting, babies included. Lifting anything (or anyone) too soon after surgery could delay healing and cause scars to be more visible once they heal.

This doesn’t mean you can’t shower your kids with affection—this is a great time to have them snuggle up on the couch for a story. Follow your surgeon’s instructions, and your restriction on lifting may be lifted after about two to four weeks if you had liposuction or breast enhancement and six to eight weeks for tummy tuck or body lifting surgery.

When can I go swimming after a tummy tuck?

While most non-contact sports can be resumed a few weeks after surgery, you’ll need to wait a little longer before taking a dip in the pool (or any body of water other than your bathtub). The main concern here is infection—you don’t want to immerse your incision sites in bodies of water before they’re strong enough to keep unfriendly bacteria at bay.

Your surgeon will advise you when it is safe to venture from the shore to the water, though expect to wait one or two months after any procedure. PS—remember to cover your bikini-ready bod with a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect against harmful UV rays and prevent scars from darkening.

When can I wear makeup after a facelift?

Many patients feel ready to show off their youthful confidence soon after a facelift, but are concerned about residual bruising being visible. Liquid foundation and most other products can irritate healing incisions and lead to infection if applied too soon after surgery. Ask your surgeon about medical-grade camouflage makeup, which can often be safely applied a little earlier than your regular makeup.

In any case, expect to go at least a week without using any lotions or makeup near your incision sites. Remember, a skilled cosmetic surgeon will place incisions in naturally inconspicuous locations, so they are nearly undetectable even without makeup.

When can I go out in public after a nose job?

The short answer—whenever you feel comfortable doing so. A lot of nose surgery patients get worried when they hear that it can take up to a year for the final results to settle in, but the truth is your nose will look great only a few weeks after rhinoplasty, with results continuing to look better and better.

You may notice residual swelling for a few months, but it will almost always be imperceptible to others. The majority of our patients typically feel confident socializing about 2 weeks after their nose reshaping procedure, once the bandaging has been removed and a good deal of swelling has gone down.

Got more “when can I” questions?

We hope this cosmetic surgery FAQ has helped you get a better feel for the recovery process as you consider your own cosmetic procedure. However, if you have any more burning “When can I…” questions to add to the list, please comment below. If you are ready to take the next step and meet with a plastic surgeon in Little Rock, please contact our office! Dr. Rhys Branman will be happy to meet with you for a personal consultation.

And if you are wondering, unless your surgeon tells you bending over is off limits, you can tie your own shoes as soon as it’s comfortable to do so after surgery.


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