What’s the post op pain all about? How to reduce it…

Post-op pain

Post Op Pain – Undergoing any type of surgery puts stress on our body, and plastic surgery is no different. Whilst you might be one of the lucky ones and cruise through the surgery and recovery with little to no discomfort, most of us experience some sort of pain. Not only that, but you might have pain in places you don’t expect or anticipate.

Of course, we expect some sort of pain when we have major plastic surgery, but if we have breast surgery, we expect our breasts to hurt, or if we’ve had an abdominoplasty, we expect our belly to be tender or a little sore for a few days. And indeed, it is expected that the first 48 hours up to a week are usually the worst, but good pain medication can usually help with that.

Weird and Wonderful Places

It’s the pain and discomfort in other areas of your body that might take you by surprise. You might have had a breast augmentation but you get pain in your neck, or arms! Any sort of surgery will result in altered and limited movement of your body, and it will affect more than just the area operated on. You will hold yourself differently and move differently to what you usually do, even if you don’t realise it, to take the pressure off or reduce the movement in the area you have had surgery on. This means muscles that are normally less used in the other areas of your body might be expected to take up the slack and cause aches and pains not anticipated.

Look After Yourself to avoid post-op pain

There are several things you can do to look after yourself after surgery and reduce post-op pain.

Get Comfortable – While this might sound easy, often it’s anything but after surgery! Pillows and cushions placed in the right places can go a long way to minimising discomfort. They can take the pressure off and assist with getting comfortable in both sitting and lying/sleeping positions and should especially be used in the days immediately following your procedure.

Keep Moving with Gentle Exercise – This will help to keep your body limber and moving through gentle exercises and movements, as directed by your surgeon. Example, gentle arm circles and stretches might help stretch the muscles in the shoulders and neck where you hold a lot of tension. Massage or hot packs can also bring relief. If you have any excessive pain in any part of your body ask your surgeon what exercises might suit your particular surgery.

Rest, Relaxation and Sleep – This might sound contradictory to the previous point, but gentle movements in between resting and sleeping is different to jumping out of bed or trying to cook the family a meal on the first or second night you’re home. Rest, relaxation and sleep for the first few days after surgery is absolutely essential to ensuring your body has the time it needs to heal.

Follow Your Surgeon’s Instructions – This might include no heavy lifting, no rigorous exercising (apart from some of the gentle movements suggested above) and perhaps sleeping propped up for a couple of days upon return home. All of these things will contribute to your body healing sooner rather than later.

Following your surgeon’s instructions is the key to the success of your surgery. It is important that the surgical incisions are not subject to excessive force, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. Avoid wearing any clothing that must go over your head or require excessive movement of your arms above your head. post-op garments are an important part of the recovery process.”

Medications – These are not just for reducing the potential for infections but for managing any pain. If you follow your surgeon’s medication schedule and communicate to them any concerns you might have, you should be able to minimise any major pain or discomfort.

Support – While some procedures have a fairly quick recovery and may only require support at home for the first 24 hours after surgery, others may have a more prolonged recovery time and you may require support for 5 to 7 days. We inform all our patients of how much support you may require at home depending on the procedure you are having.”

Support can be an essential part of minimising any undue exertion on your behalf after surgery. This can go a long way to reducing or eliminating any additional aches and pains.

Listen to Your Body – You are the best person to know your body. How you feel in the hours after the surgery will be different to how you feel two days after surgery, and again at three weeks after surgery. And each of us will be different.

However, at each stage you need to remember what you’ve been through and that there will be some level of discomfort and adjustment until your body is fully healed. Be kind to yourself.

Read more about post op pain and tips for a successful recovery after plastic surgery.