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Your Guide to Recovery After Reconstruction Surgery

Reconstruction Surgery is necessary and beneficial in many instances. By definition, reconstructive surgery offers correction after trauma, illness, or other circumstance. Occasionally, reconstructive surgery is also performed to address concerns that have been present from birth. 

One type of common reconstructive surgery is reconstruction following skin cancer. While skin cancer is often very treatable, large amounts of skin and tissue removal are sometimes necessary. In some instances, the surrounding skin can simply be closed and sutured after the cancer is removed; however, other times, skin grafts are necessary. 

If this is the case, you can expect a recovery period of some sort. While the exact length of your recovery will depend on the size of the graft, location of the graft, and your general health, you can expect some of the following.

Week One After Surgery

In regards to reconstructive plastic surgery recovery times, you will be the most uncomfortable during the first week of recovery. Discomfort levels are often the highest at the incision site (in cases of skin grafts, this will be at both the donor and grafted sites). 

Expect some soreness, bruising, inflammation, fluid leakage, and pain. Your prescribed pain medication should help you manage the discomfort.

The surgical wound will be dressed and expected to remain dry. You should get plenty of rest during this period to enable the body to heal. Straining from moving and lifting can tear the sutures. It is also painful because the adjacent tissues are equally sore. Pressure in the area can lead to abnormal scarring and prolong the healing process.

Second Week Post-Surgery

The pain becomes manageable as the days progress. Your surgeon will encourage you to increase your movement to prevent clots from developing. A good example of this is short walks around your house. During this period, you should still not take full showers. Wipe yourself with a damp cloth, being extremely careful around the wound.

Week Three and Week Four Post-Operation

By week three, you should be feeling much better. You will experience sensitivity at the incision site because of nerve disruption. These sensations can persist for months. For most procedures, you can resume work and slowly begin your everyday routine after two weeks. 

Keep activities at a bare minimum by only tending to essentials. Avoid exercising. Your surgeon should give you the go-ahead about your physical workout.

Preparing for Recovery

Most reconstructive surgery operations (such as reconstruction after skin cancer) are outpatient procedures. You only need a few hours of observation after the operation is complete. 

Your Recovery Room

Your surgeon will advise you to prepare your recovery space at home before the surgery. The room should be:

  • Easy to access without strain
  • Next to a restroom
  • Furnished with a comfortable bed, pillows, and blankets
  • Loose and comfortable clothing
  • A fridge with healthy beverages and fluids
  • An entertainment unit (or something to occupy your mind that is stress-free)
  • Clear of clutter

Look for Support

Have a friend or loved one stay with you during recovery. You may not be able to take care of yourself the night of your procedure. Your designated support will tend to your wound, prepare food, help you move, give you medication, and provide mental support.

Notify the Surgeon of Any Alarming Changes

Consult your surgeon if you notice puss, strange discoloration, sharp pain, increased swelling, and pressure.

FAQs

What Is the Fastest Way to Recover From Reconstructive Surgery?

Follow your surgeon’s instructions before surgery. Start by preparing your recovery space. Have a loved one look after you as you recuperate. Get plenty of rest. Only take breaks from resting for walks around the house to prevent clots from forming.

Avoid doing any strenuous activities. Eat a balanced diet to get nutrients that facilitate wound healing. Drink plenty of water to boost blood circulation. Take the prescribed medication at the right time and in the indicated dosage. Have a positive attitude throughout the recovery period.

How Long Do You Have to Rest After Surgery?

Avoid any strenuous physical activity during the first four to six weeks. Your body tissues need to recover from the surgical injury. Rest also enables you to form proper scar tissue.

Physical workouts and intense activity only aggravate the wound and sore tissues. They can cause excessive scar tissue formation or cause bruising. Keep your muscles relaxed and handle the wound area delicately.

Which Foods Help With Wound Healing?

Your body needs all nutrients in their proper proportions to function at optimal levels. This can be found with a balanced diet. Your breakfast, lunch, and dinner need to have proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. You should also hydrate with healthy beverages (like water and unsweetened tea).

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