Plastic Cosmetic Surgery after massive weight loss requires effort during the recovery period to get the best results. Good nutrition, effective wound care, wearing garments, lots of rest and gentle exercise are all vital parts of a good recovery after body lift.
Optimal wound healing after surgery takes significant effort on your part to ensure your body has all the support it needs. The main things to avoid are any form of smoking or vaping poor nutrition or over-stretching the wound. With a sustained effort, you can get a great looking scar and enjoy a good recovery.
Please ensure all post-operative dressings remain intact until removed in the clinic. The dressings chosen are specific to the type of low scar surgery performed and scar reduction relies on the dressings remaining intact for as long as possible. If you feel the dressings are peeling off at any time secure the area with a simple dressing like Elastoplast (if tolerated) and contact the clinic as soon as possible to notify us of your concerns.
All Dr Carmen’s post-op dressings can be showered. A daily light shower, allowing the dressings to dry via body heat (lying on the bedpost a shower) or gentle hairdryer is sufficient.
How long should I wear my post-op garment? The short answer is – as long as possible please. Although it is often expressed as, hot firm and difficult to put on and remove. It provides vital support to the operative area and surrounding tissue. It reduces unnecessary wound strain on the scar line, supporting the body to focus on wound healing and controls the risk of fluid building up in the surrounding tissue. For the very best outcome, it is vital that all recommended garments and additional support (Tubigrip) is worn as advised. If you are struggling to wear it or it seems uncomfortable please let us know as other strategies to manage this may be devised.
It may seem obvious, but eating well helps your wound heal better after surgery. This is especially critical for post weight loss surgery patients.
Due to the mechanics of gastric reduction surgery and the adapted internal structure of your gut, your body is less able to absorb and process adequate levels of essential nutrients, this is not an issue usually when you are healthy and well but can present challenges at times of stress such as following surgery, when the healing process requires greater nutritional support to allow effective and timely healing to take place.
Plan your meal times differently, aim for half the quantity but twice the opportunity. This means spreading out your intake throughout the day. Rather than your usual 3 larger meals increase your opportunity to include breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and supper. The quantities can be small such as a yogurt for morning tea or cheese and crackers for supper. A slow and sustained intake allows your body to better utilise the nutrients you are consuming.
Focus your intake on Protein in particular, ensuring every meal opportunity provides some form of protein whenever possible. Suitable foods are lean meats: – fish, chicken, beef and pork, sliced meats, eggs, lentils, beans, mushrooms, low fat dairy products, nuts and seeds.
Increased protein intake is vital to support collagen formation within the skin tissues, promoting timely wound healing. It helps your body to feel full and gives energy that can be used readily.
You can revert to protein shakes as a morning tea or supper option if you wish but it is always better to try to source protein through foods unless you are unable to do so.
Vitamin D also enhances wound healing potential. Suitable foods are fatty fish (Tuna, Salmon, Mackerel), dairy products, eggs, soy milk and orange juice.
Balance this with fresh fruit, vegetables, and fibre intake.
Vitamin C. You may be aware of the usual citrus foods such as oranges, lemon, lime or grapefruit but have you considered other fruit and vegetable containing high levels of vitamin C. These include Pineapple, Papaya, Mango, Kiwi Fruit, Strawberries, Cantaloupe, Kale, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Capsicum and Cauliflower.
Vitamin C is an important factor in Collagen formation, directly affecting wound healing. Vitamin C is also a natural diuretic meaning it helps to shift that excess post op fluid that your body may be holding on to.
Reduce carbohydrates and sugars to a third of your daily intake or less. These energy rich foods are not valuable when your body should be resting and healing as much as possible.
A supplement that has been proven to be beneficial is L-Arginate. This works with your body to enhance the natural healing cascade, improving immune response and increasing blood supply to healing tissue. This naturally occurring Amino acid is produced by the body but in times of stress such as growth, Illness, metabolic stress and wound healing additional supplementation is required. L-Arginate supplements can easily be sourced through health stores or pharmacies and come in a variety of sources from powders, drinks or tablets.
Vitamin D supplements can be taken but it is always better to provide the body with natural intake via food sources rather than relying on an unhealthy diet and supplementation.
Zinc Supplementation. Zinc regulates every phase of wound healing and can be found in any protein rich food source.
It is important that you maintain gentle daily activities like showering and moving position frequently to feel positive and reduce pressures on your skin tissue.
Continued unrelieved pressure on skin can cause damage and a very negative effect to healing. When resting, sleeping and sitting change position frequently, using soft cushions to allow gentle elevation or support to different areas therefore reducing the potential of unrelieved pressure. Ask Dr Carmen’s team for tips and tricks specific to your needs.
As the days progress into weeks additional activities can be included such as one or two gentle short walks. Please note any exercises beyond gentle walking must be discussed with Dr Carmen or her team to ensure that no unnecessary strain is placed on post-operative wounds.
Take the time to sit outside daily on fine days in a shaded spot. Do not allow sunlight directly to healing tissue/ dressings or patchy permanent pigmentation could occur.
Avoid any heavy lifting until advised by the clinic, seek help from family and friends with any dependant small children you may have to ensure you are not overstraining yourself whilst your body is working hard to heal itself.
Ensure your family is prepared to expect you will be resting quietly at home for a significant period of time during the first few weeks following your surgery. You should ensure that you do not commit to additional stresses at this time when you should be focused solely on yourself and your healing.
If swollen ankles are a concern try lying on your bed with your legs raised during the midday nap.
Adequate sleep is essential to provide the best wound healing post your surgery. Your body needs to be calm and rested. Aim to take a nap each day for the first 10-14 day post your surgery and plan for an early bedtime each night. Emotional stresses need to be kept to a minimum.
Be aware that you are unlikely to sleep through a whole night of unbroken sleep and may still feel tired in the morning. Have a hot milk drink (not coffee or hot chocolate) and pain-relieving medication (Panadol) plus additional prescribed medication if appropriate.
Have plenty of pillows available to pad areas of your body to ensure comfort and support. It is generally ok to sleep in any position you feel comfortable in following your discharge from hospital.
If you do wake during the night and do not fall back to sleep immediately, get up and have a drink of water. Take painkiller medication if appropriate (depending on the type and the instructions as per the prescription). Gently walk around the house for 5 minutes then return to bed.
Sometimes a bit of distraction and a position change is all that you need to get back to sleep.
As with many things increased pain killers can have a negative effect on bowel function. If this is becoming an issue (feeling bloated, nausea or lacking in appetite). Try gentle and gradual solutions
Firstly, up your fluid intake by increasing your consumption of water, soup, hot or cold drinks.
Increase the fibre content in your diet by consuming whole-grain foods such as brown rice and brown bread
If you are still struggling consider gentle aperients like Prune juice (from health food stores or your local supermarket) or ask your local pharmacist for help. Make sure they are aware of any other medications you currently take.
Likely products recommended might be: –
Nature will eventually work so only add small and gradual changes rather than treating yourself too aggressively with everything then being left with painful cramps or loose bowels.
Be patient and positive. You may be much more tired than you thought you would be and the effects of the surgery may take several months before the final shape is achieved.
Surgeries to resculpt the body following significant weight loss may need second stage revision surgery to achieve the total loss of excess skin and this may take several months or years depending on what you have decided is best for your individual journey.
Congratulations on reaching this final stage in your weight loss journey it has I’m sure been a very long journey with many bumps along the way and perhaps a much longer journey than you planned for when you realised that you were not happy and needed to change for the better.
Think about all the new clothes, new activities and lifestyle changes you can enjoy now that you have completely recovered and have your new body.
Remember to contact us any time you need to. We are there to encourage and support you in any way we can. It is our commitment to you that sets us apart from others. Our whole focus is on you your needs and ensuring your recovery is the best it can be.
Dr Carmen has 25 years of expertise in breast & tummy surgery as well as excess skin removal for weight-loss patients. Her favourite surgery is Breast Reduction. She also has significant experience in using fat transfer & fat grafting processes to the breast for augmentation and enhancement.
Dr Carmen is a FRACS Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon – she is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.
She is a precise surgeon and customises her surgery procedures and placement of surgical incision lines for each patient to get the best outcomes.
Caring and engaging, Dr Carmen is highly regarded by her peers and patients.
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