The Myth of Recovery

Courtesy Barnes Jewish Hospital Pinterest page

After discussing a cosmetic procedure during a consultation, the final two questions in every consult is 1) how much does it cost? and 2) how long is the recovery? The answer to price is simpler than it used to be as can be seen here. In regards to recovery, the patient tends to follow up their question with their own answer that’s typically out of step with current practices. For whatever reason, maybe historical, patients assume every procedure takes weeks to months to recover from. Aside from a transplant, joint replacement or heart surgery, long recoveries are a thing of the past.


I remember when I was growing up, my father, a surgeon, would perform gallbladder removals through a large abdominal incision (the open approach). Patients would stay in the hospital for several days, maybe even a week recovering. But once the laparascopic approach came about, he was able to take out the gallbladder through 3-5 very small holes and the patient’s recovery would be reduced to an overnight stay. By the time I started my general surgery residency, laparascopic gallbladder removal patients were done as an outpatient and sent home the same day!


Cost cutting at hospitals and improved minimally invasive techniques have reduced recovery time across the board. In particular with cosmetic surgery, I don’t have to use general anesthesia on my facelift patients anymore, which means they breathe on their own during surgery and go home immediately afterwards. Breast augmentation patients are encouraged to shower the evening after their surgery and even go out to dinner! This paradigm shift from playing the sick role to becoming more active after surgery is good mentally and physically for the patient.


Speak to your surgeon first before taking my advice but the best way to recover from surgery is to take an active role in your recuperation and avoid a sedentary postoperative approach.



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