Stephen McCulley, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon. MBChb, FCS(SA)Plast, FRCS(plast)

Recovering from surgery: a guide for friends and family

Hospital visit

Breast augmentation is a popular surgery that gives quick and effective results to patients. However, allowing time to recover from a surgical operation is very important to ensure that the patient comes back to full health and avoids any infections or other adverse side effects of surgery. This is a brief guide for friends and family to help the patient to recover.

Immediately after surgery, the patient will stay in hospital for a short period of time providing the surgery went well. During this time there will usually be a period of visitation so that the patient can see friends and family. Taking up this opportunity may improve the patient’s feeling of general well-being and happiness, and may help them to recover by putting them in a good position psychologically. Taking along some items from home may help the patient become accustomed to new surroundings if the stay in hospital turns out to be longer than expected.

When the patient returns home, they will need to be cared for because of painful swelling and bruising that may affect their day to day lifestyle. Excessive use of the arms should be avoided to ensure that the chest area is given maximum opportunity for full recovery. This means that the patient may require help with simple tasks such as preparing food. Helping the patient with daily activities will be helpful for their recovery.

Similarly, the patient’s mobility may be affected because of the need to rest. This may mean that leaving the house is not an option to begin with, so sitting with the patient to ensure that they do not become bored or lonely can also be helpful. If you cannot physically be with the patient, a phone call can help to lift spirits and help the patient to stay connected with friends and not feel socially excluded.

The recovery time should be a relatively short period, with the patient back to normal after six weeks and usually able to return to work after only two weeks. Allowing for a proper period of rest will benefit recovery hugely, and following the doctor’s advice will help the patient to recover in the fastest and most effective way. Possible adverse effects of surgery include a high temperature, painful breasts, coloured discharge from the nipple and an unusual amount of swelling around the breasts. If any of these situations occur, friends and family should be available to help the patient to a doctor for a full assessment. For more information visit the NHS website.

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