In any surgery, a natural by-product is pain, bruising and swelling. It is expected that the area involved and the surrounding area near the surgery site will be uncomfortable, discolored and swollen. Surgery is essentially a “controlled trauma” that depending on your health prior to surgery and the extent and number of areas worked on, will result in some pain, bruising and swelling. Your body reacts to the surgical procedure by causing more water to be retained (swelling) and shows it superficially on the skin with blue, black, or purple colors (bruising). Beware of red discolorations if it is associated with pain, fever, or heat to the area. This may be infection and should be brought to your doctor’s attention immediately. Most surgeons have the goal of minimizing pain, bruising and swelling by innovative techniques, minimal invasiveness, and good after surgery recovery care. Remember to talk to your surgeon as to what specifically their protocols are after surgery.
The following is a general guideline on how to minimize pain, bruising and swelling, speed up the healing process, and get the best results after surgery.
- DON’T SMOKE!
- DRINK LOTS OF FLUIDS. This may actually seem counterproductive but actually helps decrease swelling in the long run.
- Avoid drinking alcohol or the first 48 hours.
- Keep dressings and compression bandages on till the doctor says ok to remove.
- Have someone help you for the first 48 hrs after surgery, even with the little things around the house. Relax and don’t push yourself.
- No pushing, lifting, or carrying things for 2 weeks after surgery. Straining may affect the outcome. Avoid heavy exercise or workouts or physical labor for 6 weeks after surgery.
- If you had surgery to breast, face, or tummy, sleep upright at a 45-degree angle for the first few weeks. This will help ease the swelling.
- Use ice packs for the first two weeks after surgery to the affected area. This will decrease swelling and pain. Using heat packs may feel comfortable, but heat is a vasodilator ( causes blood vessels to open and retain water), which should be avoided in the presence of swelling and bruising.
- After Surgery Lymphatic Massage. This is especially important right after surgery, to help drain, un-swell, decrease pain, and get mobility back. This is not a traditional massage and must be done by trained therapist who specializes in Lymphatic drainage.
What is Lymphatic Massage?
Lymphatic massage, unlike deep tissue or traditional spa types, is a very gentle, superficial type of massage used to move fluid, swelling, and debris after surgery. It is very effective in removing toxins and inflammatory products, which helps to reduce pain and speed recovery.
What is this Lymphatic system and why is it so important?
The Lymphatic system is a series of vein like tubes that carry immune system fluids, remove toxins, and help prevent infection. It works similar to how veins and arteries carry blood through the body. When the Lymphatic structures are properly stimulated, through massage, muscle contraction, or compression bandages, it helps to move the bruising and swelling out more quickly, thereby reducing pain.
The Lymphatic system, unlike rapidly moving veins and arteries, moves with”molasses like” slowness. This is due to its protein thick make up. The reason why Lymphatic drainage massage is so beneficial after surgery, is that it gets thick, slow moving lymph vessels to open and drain. This gentle type of massage helps lymph vessels drain the excess fluid and inflammatory products, which have already been “overloaded” after surgery.
As an example, imagine a stopped up storm drain, that suddenly has to deal with a sudden downpour, and gets backed up. Lymphatic massage helps unclog the drain. You get the idea.
Lymphatic drainage can also be done before surgery to help speed up the recovery process. Talk to your surgeon about LYMPHATIC drainage before your surgical procedure and have your 1st appointment ready. You will thank yourself for doing it.