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Bruising After Plastic Surgery: What Patients Should Know

By Dr. Suzanne Yee on April 13, 2017


A woman grabbing the back of her legThe team at our Little Rock plastic surgery center believes that great results are built on proper healing. That's why we always take time to focus on the side effects that patients face during recovery. By noting what the healing process is like, patients can know what to do as they recover so they heal quickly and free from serious problems.

After undergoing and sort of facial surgery or body contouring and sculpting surgery, a certain amount of bruising is expected. Let's take a moment to consider post-surgical bruising, how long it lasts, and how it can be properly managed.

What Causes Bruising?

A bruise is your body's natural reaction to trauma, such as incidental bumps and physical injury. When an injury occurs, the blood from damaged blood vessels under the skin pool into one area, causing skin discoloration.

With a cosmetic surgery procedure, the bruising occurs as a result of the incisions made the other adjustments to the tissues in the area.

How Bad Can Bruising Get After Surgery?

Bruising can be pretty substantial after a surgery is performed, though this depends in the extent and nature of the surgery.

With a facial plastic surgery procedure, the bruising and swelling of the face as you recover can be quite noticeable. The same can be said for bruising after a body contouring surgery, with discoloration affecting much of the torso and abdominal region or whatever part of your body was operated on.

That said, patients will notice the bruising fade as they recovery. Gradually the purplish or reddish color will lighten, eventually appearing yellow or slightly discolored before fading away entirely.

How Long Does Post-Operative Bruising Last?

This can vary from patient to patient, but for most patients, major bruising should fade by the end of two weeks. Residual discoloration may persist for a week or so afterwards. It's important to get ample rest after surgery and to follow pre-op and post-op instructions to the letter.

Are Compression Garments Helpful?

Yes, for people who have undergone body contouring or breast enhancement surgery. These garments often provide comfort and support as the body heals, and they help manage major swelling and bruising quite well.

Tips for Managing Bruising After Surgery

To help minimize bruising and make it fade faster, consider the following helpful tips:

  • Focus on resting
  • Avoid strenuous physical activity
  • Drink lots of fluids
  • Avoid tobacco products and alcohol
  • Wear compression garments as directed
  • Use ice packs/cold compresses as directed
  • Walk a little bit to promote circulation
  • Attend follow-up visits as scheduled

When Can I Return to Work?

This can vary a fair amount depending on the nature of your job and the type of surgery that you underwent.

For most people who underwent body contouring or breast enhancement surgery, they can return to work after about a week, though additional time may be recommended for major sugeries (e.g., tummy tuck, body lift). While a patient may not be fully recovered at the end of a week, their clothes will conceal any bruising and swelling from others.

With facial surgery, patients will want to take about two weeks off from work. This allows major bruising and swelling to face. Some minor swelling and discoloration may be visible upon your return, but it will not be so significant as to be glaringly obvious.

Learn More About Recovering from Plastic Surgery

For more information about recovering from plastic surgery and improving your healing experience, be sure to contact an experienced cosmetic plastic surgeon today. We look forward to your visit and discussing these matters in more detail.

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