The single best way to recover from surgery is to go into the operating theatre in the healthiest state you possibly can. While this is common sense, it is something many surgeons feel the need to emphasise to prospective patients. Having a healthy body will enable you to be at optimum strength and give your body a chance to fight off any infections that are often associated with surgery and allow your body to “bounce” back quicker than it would if you were not taking proper care of yourself.

So in order to have a better recovery, you need to also factor in your surgery preparation.

Some surgeons will now refuse to perform elective cosmetic surgery if the patient is a smoker. Renowned Sydney based Plastic Surgeon Dr Scott Turner advises for general health and wellbeing and to improve wound healing that patients may be asked to stop smoking among other things. “Patients may be asked to: Get blood tests or x-rays; undergo a medical evaluation by a specialist if they have any pre-existing medical conditions; take certain medications or adjust current medications; stop smoking well in advance of surgery; avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and some herbal supplements such as vitamin E and any fish oils as they can increase bleeding.”

The danger of smoking and surgery is taken seriously, as is an unhealthy weight – concerning BMI and an unhealthy blood pressure rate are also issues for those seeking elective surgery. In essence, the healthier you are, the better the cosmetic and health outcomes. The quicker a wound heals, usually less obvious is the scarring.

So, what about the actual recovery after the surgery? Dr Turner says: “We give our patients detailed instructions on post-operative care to take home with you. These instructions will include:

  • How to care for the surgical site
  • How to use your garment
  • Exercises to perform
  • Medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection
  • Specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in overall health
  • How to and when to arrange follow up with
  • Contact numbers in case of concerns or after-hour emergencies”


One of the most common questions asked for those considering cosmetic surgery is how long will it take to recover. Your surgeon should be able to give you a timeframe for your specific surgery and circumstances. However, listed here are the average times patients take off from work to recover from their plastic surgery procedures.

Estimated recovery times:
  • Breast Augmentation – one week
  • Breast Lift – one week
  • Breast Reduction – one week
  • Brachioplasty (Arm Lift) – one week
  • Liposuction- one week
  • Gynecomastia (Male Chest Reduction)- one week
  • Tummy Tuck – 3-4 weeks
  • Mummy Makeover – 3-4 weeks
  • Body Lift – 3-4 weeks
  • Brow Lift – 1-2 weeks
  • Facelift- 2 weeks
  • Eyelid Surgery- 2 weeks

Dr Turner says, “Following your surgeon’s instructions is the key to the success of your surgery. It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. Avoid wearing any clothing that must go over your head or require excessive movement of your arms above your head. Avoid heavy lifting and tasks that require exertion of your upper arms and shoulders.”

To assist in your recovery it is ideal to ensure you have enough help when you get home so you don’t overexert yourself. Even little things like preparing meals will seem harder than normal, and in some cases impossible. Prepare a few days worth of meals before you go in for your surgery and pop them in the freezer so when you get home you don’t have to spend too long in the kitchen, standing up, bending over and dealing with all those movements that after surgery are so much more difficult!

Depending on what type of surgery you undergo, if you have young children at home you may wish to get some live in help. Your little ones won’t quite understand why they can’t jump all over you and have you bend down, lift them up and walk them to the park for a few days. Live in help, or having some daily assistance will also come in handy for little things like showering. It is not uncommon to feel faint or weak, and you will most likely be on painkillers which can cause drowsiness so it makes sense to have someone keeping an eye out for you.

Remember… recovery is not a race. Everyone’s surgery and healing journey are different. Always listen to your body, and respond to what it is telling you. The most important things to remember are:

  • Do not over exert yourself (this may set your recovery time back)
  • Remember that it may take time for your surgery to give you the end result (eg. breast implants often take a few weeks to settle into their final positioning so don’t get worried initially thinking your surgeon has put them into the wrong spot!)
  • Your doctor/surgeon should be available for any questions or concerns you have after surgery so don’t be afraid to ask about anything and everything to keep your mind at ease and be informed.

Further Reading About Recovery after Cosmetic Surgery

More PSH Blogs by Dr Scott Turner

Contact Dr Scott Turner

Visit Dr Turner’s Website or Phone 1300 55 88 88 or Email the team on [email protected]

Trish is a plastic surgery blogger. She is passionate about wellbeing, health and beauty, and doesn't mind a little bit of 'help' from the amazing cosmetic and beauty procedures that are available today. Trish spends her days talking to women and men who are looking for suggestions and advice on procedures that are available to them. Cutting through the sales pitch and hype, a down-to-earth response on general information is what you will get.

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