Plastic Surgery Postoperative Questions


Bathing/Water Exposure

When can I shower?

Breast augmentation only – 24 hours after surgery

All other surgeries – 48 hours after surgery

When can I bathe, swim or use a hot tub?

When your steri-strips come off and assuming there is NO opening in the incision line which would allow bacteria to enter into your body, it is ok to bathe, swim, or use the hot tub. This is generally the case at about 6 weeks after surgery.

Tape/Drains/Pain Pumps

When will my pain pump be removed?

A long acting local anesthetic is infused under pressure into the surgical site. When it appears that there is no longer any liquid remaining in the pump, the pump will look flat with a rubber core about the size of a cigar and you may remove the pump by peeling off the little clear band-aids and pulling the small brown tubes until they come all the way out of your skin. You won’t feel this and they come right out. This generally happens on day 3-5 post surgery.

If I have drains, when will my drains come out?

If you have had an abdominoplasty, reverse abdominoplasty, or mini abdominoplasty and you are draining 30 cc or less in a 24 hour period, your drain can be removed by Dr. Corey or his nurse.

If you have had a facelift Dr. Corey normally removes the drain before you are discharged from the outpatient facility. If for some reason your drain is not ready for removal at this time, Dr. Corey will advise you when it is necessary to come into our office and have it removed.

How long will my steri-strips stay on?

If you had abdominoplasty, any type of mastopexy or donutpexy, your steri-strips from surgery will stay on for 2 weeks and then will be changed in the office. Replacement tape will be applied at that time and usually lasts about 1 more week. Silicone sheeting, if purchased, can be applied then or other tapes as needed.

If you had a breast augmentation and the steri-strips are located under your arm, your steri strips will stay on until they basically fall off themselves.

Bras/Velcro Strap/Compression Garments

How long do I have to wear the surgical bra?

You will need to wear a non-wire bra until Dr. Corey directs you not do so anymore. Start with the surgical bra that the office gives you and then usually at about 7 days, women transition into a different type of non-wire bra. Ninety nine percent of people like the way the sports bra feels and it is very comforting. If it is aggravating to you, you do not need to wear it. Most people like it but if you do not, either change to a different bra or do not wear one.

When can I use an underwire bra? Why the wait?

The underwire bra can impede the implant from dropping to its natural position and keep your implants high thus preventing them from settling into place. You may begin to use an underwire bra when Dr. Corey feels that’s your breasts are doing what they are supposed to!!! Most women are back in a wire bra in 3-6 weeks.

Do I need to sleep in a bra?

We would like you to wear a bra at all times for the first week. After 1 week, you may sleep without the bra. If the bra feels too tight or hurts, switch immediately to any bra without an underwire that feels comfortable. A bra that is too tight can cause ulceration of the skin. If it is more comfortable you may go braless.

What is the Velcro strap for and how long do I need to use it?

When you have breast augmentation surgery the velcro strap is used to help settle the implants into their natural position. When you get home and take your first shower, you will replace the velcro strap up high and snug but not painful across your chest and then put your sports bra on top of this. After four days you will not need to wear the velcro strap and will just wear the sports bra.

How long do I need to wear my surgical compression garment?

Patients who have received liposuction need to wear their compression garments for 4-6 weeks after surgery. It is OK to remove the garment for several hours during the day but again, try to wear it as much as you can. A few weeks after surgery you may begin to wear other equivalent store bought compression garments as long as they are snug and supportive. You may launder it but do not heat dry it..


How soon should I get out of bed?

You should be up and out of bed at least 2-3 times on the first day of surgery. Moving is important. It prevents blood clots from occurring in your legs. While you are in bed it is important to flex your calf muscles and some people draw the alphabet with their feet several times an hour.

When can I exercise?

You may take gentle walks within a few days after surgery. During the first two weeks post surgery if you are no longer having pain or discomfort you may walk outside, do gentle exercise or even some cardio on a stationary bike. Do not return to any bouncing exercise for 2 weeks as this may cause bleeding. As you increase your level of activity and resume exercise let your body tell you what you can do. Keep in mind, augmentation patients need to stay away from chest exercises, like bench press, pec flys or a lot of push-ups, during the first 3 months after surgery as these exercises may affect how your implants settle.

Why do I have to wait so long to exercise?

Relax!!! You just had surgery!!! Once you begin exercising again, start gently and let your body tell you what it can tolerate. Don't rush!!

When can I drive?

When you are no longer taking any pain medication, you have a good range of motion, and driving does not cause pain.


What should I do if I am running low on pain meds?

If you are running low on pain meds and are unable to switch to just Ibuprofen, Motrin or Advil, Dr. Corey’s nurse will be able to call in an alternative pain medication. Some of the pain medications like Demerol and Percocets cannot be called in and require that you come by the office for a written prescription. The goal is to try and get off the pain medication as soon as you can. It can be constipating, patients can occasionally hallucinate and generally just feel better off the stuff!

What is the Aquaphor ointment for? When do I use it?

There is not much use for this after surgery. You may be using Neosporin or Polysporin ointment after but you will be instructed how and where.

Should I use Mederma, Vitamin E, or a similar product on my scars?

After the incision has healed Dr. Corey prefers patients use SkinMedica Scar Recovery for the treatment of scars. Scar Recovery is useful for the reduction of scarring.


When can I resume sexual activity?

You may enjoy sexual activity as your body allows with the following restriction: Again, no bouncing!! And no straining of your tummy muscles after a tummy tuck for a good six weeks.

When is it ok to consume alcohol?

Please do not drink until you have stopped taking the prescription pain pills and antibiotics. The combination of pain pills and alcohol can be dangerous.

When can I resume smoking cigarettes or using tobacco?

Smoking reduces capillary flow in your skin, reduces healing, and increases your risk for infection and wound healing complications. And in surgeries where skin is lifted and then pulled tighter (tummy tuck, facelift, breast lift) there can be actual skin LOSS. We advise stopping all tobacco products (even gum and patches) for 6 weeks before and two weeks after. And the longer the better!!! But if you are not able to do this, please, let us know!!!

When can I tan?

Scars take at least one year to fade completely. If fresh scars are exposed to the sun or a tanning bed, they will tend to become darker and take longer to fade. Sunscreen can help. Place sunscreen even in areas where you think your swimsuit may cover as the sun’s rays can even penetrate through some swimsuits. Take extra precautions if the area operated on is slightly numb –you might not feel a sunburn developing. Wear a sunscreen with at least SPF 15 at all times while in the sunshine.


When do I need to worry about breast massage?

Scottsdale plastic surgeon, Dr. Corey and his nurse will guide you at your first post operative visit on the proper massage technique. Dr. Corey believes that massage helps to keep your implants soft and to look and feel more natural. It is important to do the massage exercise vigorously even though it may be uncomfortable at first.

How do I perform a breast massage?

Dr. Corey and his nurse will instruct you at your first post operative visit the proper massage technique that Dr. Corey has found to be the most effective.

You will in turn have the opportunity to demonstrate self massage to ensure that you are using the appropriate technique.

How long do I massage in each direction?

It is suggested that you perform the massage technique you will be shown at least 3 times a day, 5 minutes each breast, totaling up to 30 minutes per day.

Are there any exceptions to breast massage?

Yes. Some patients who undergo a simple implant exchange may not need to massage, and some types of implants may not need it, and patients who undergo a Capsullorraphy, or suturing of the pocket, do NOT massage.

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If you would like more information on what to expect post surgery, contact our Scottsdale plastic surgery office to set up an individualized consultation today.  We proudly serve the areas of Scottsdale, Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Arizona.