Reducing Swelling and Inflammation after Surgery

Reducing Swelling and Inflammation after SurgeryAlthough there is no cure for the swelling and tissue inflammation that occurs after plastic surgery, there are certainly things that patients can do to limit these side effects. Swelling can be greatly reduced when patients follow Dr. Vince Marin‘s pre- and post-operative instructions. Here, we offer a list of tips that you can act on before and after surgery to minimize swelling.

What You Can Do before Surgery

To ensure a pleasant and safe healing period, patients should have a recovery plan in place several days before surgery. This will give you time to properly prepare for surgery, go to Dr. Marin with any additional questions, and purchase any necessary supplies. Some considerations to keep in mind in regards to swelling include:

  • Consume Less Sodium: Sodium naturally increases inflammation in the body. Reducing your consumption of sodium for a few weeks before surgery (as well as a few weeks after surgery) will reduce overall swelling so this side effect dissipates faster. To determine how much sodium you intake each day, and which foods are the highest in sodium, keep a food diary for a few days while you eat the foods you normally would. Then, you can calculate your daily sodium intake and pinpoint the foods that are putting you close to or over the recommended daily limit. The USDA’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend less than 2,300 mg of sodium a day; the limit is 1,500 mg for certain patients, including those age 51 and older. Considering that one-teaspoon of table salt has 2,325 mg of sodium, it is easy to see how many Americans exceed the daily limit. Try decreasing your sodium intake to less than 2000 mg per day.
  • Arnica Montana or Bromelain: Talk to Dr. Marin about using a Bromelain or Arnica Montana supplement before and after surgery. Use of one of these products for about two weeks before and two weeks after surgery may decrease swelling. However, patients should discuss use of these supplements with Dr. Marin during their pre-operative appointments so he can determine if they are safe for you. As an alternative to Bromelain, patients can eat one or two servings of fresh pineapple each day for a couple of weeks before surgery (pineapple contains the enzyme Bromelain).

What You Can Do after Surgery

Continuing your low sodium diet and use of Bromelain or Arnica Montana after surgery will help reduce swelling. In addition, patients should stick to the R.I.C.E. method of recovery, which includes:

  • Rest: Get plenty of rest in the day or two after your surgery. After a couple of days, you should get up briefly throughout the day to get your blood circulating and encourage healing. However, it is important not to overdo it for a few weeks after surgery. Though patients may feel well enough to lift heavy objects or engage in strenuous exercise, any activity that raises your blood pressure will in turn increase inflammation and swelling.
  • Ice: The application of an ice compress, especially in the first few days after surgery, can reduce swelling.
  • Compression: If you undergo body contouring surgery such as liposuction or tummy tuck, Dr. Marin will recommend use of a compression garment. For other procedures, Dr. Marin will tightly wrap the area to improve healing. It is important to leave these bandages in place as long as Dr. Marin instructs you to do so.
  • Elevation: Keeping the head elevated after surgery can also encourage healing. Remain in a semi-upright position even when you are sleeping.

Along with these tips, Dr. Marin advises patients to drink plenty of water during the healing period. For more recovery tips, contact Dr. Marin today.

About the Author:

Dr. Vince Marin is a San Diego board-certified plastic surgeon specializes in cosmetic surgery of the face, nose, breast and body. If you wish to contact Dr. Marin, write to [email protected] or you can follow him on Twitter!