How Long Does it Take to Recover from Surgery?

One of the most common, and important, questions that patients ask me is how long their recovery will be.  There are two important things to know about recovery time after surgery.

Courtesy of Office.com

Courtesy of Office.com

 

 

  • First, the recovery time depends on the type of procedure you have.  For example, getting Botox has virtually no recovery time, but getting an abdominoplasty will require significant time to recover.  Even two different operations on the same body part may have very different recovery times.  If I take a ganglion cyst out, I have my patients wear a splint for 4 weeks to prevent motion because the cyst comes from the joint, and movement at the joint may impair healing.  But if I release a trigger finger, I want patients to move that finger immediately after surgery so scar tissue does not develop that limits motion.
  • Second, each surgeon is a little bit different in terms of their post-operative care and activity restrictions.  So comparing your surgery to that of a friend who had a different surgeon is not necessarily useful.

In terms of how tissue actually heals, a good rule of thumb is that it takes about 6 weeks to achieve full healing.  This is why casts stay on at least 6 weeks, and why patients have lifting restrictions for at least 6 weeks after a hernia repair.  It is essential that you ask your surgeon what your specific downtime and recovery will be like, and that you understand why you have the restrictions that you do.  This will help you have the best experience possible with any surgical procedure

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Disclaimer: This webpage is for general information only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical illness, or give any specific medical advice. Because medical knowlege is constantly evolving, I cannot guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of any information in this blog.

Does Getting Filler Hurt?

I know many people who absolutely hate needles.  Hate them.  In fact, my husband is one of these people.  Giving him his flu shot last year was like darting a wild animal that was trying to escape.  On the other side of the spectrum, I also know many people that aren’t particularly bothered by needles.  But regardless of which group you fall into, getting fillers (e.g. Juvederm or Belotero) can be uncomfortable, especially in sensitive areas such as the lips.

Courtesy of office.com

Courtesy of office.com

So what to do about this?  I am a huge fan of facial fillers, but I hate causing pain. Fortunately, we have many ways to reduce or eliminate pain during procedures.   First, I routinely use a topical numbing cream on the area that is getting injected.  Letting this cream sit in place for several minutes reduces the pain significantly.  I also use a cooling spray that helps numb each area further just before injection.  Finally, I may perform injections to the nerves that provide sensation to the area around the mouth.  This nerve block is similar to the injections a dentist performs before doing dental work, so you can expect to be numb for an hour or two afterward.  Applying ice before and after the procedure may help as well. 

I can think of a couple of questions you may have, once you digested this information, so I’ll try to anticipate and answer those now:

1) If I’m getting a shot to make me numb, why does the shot hurt?  This is the biggest downside of local anesthetics, that is, medications we use to numb tissue.  Local anesthetics such as lidocaine do burn when they are injected.  This is because the solution is fairly acidic.  Adding a neutralizer (sodium bicarbonate) may help with the burning.  I find injecting very slowly also helps.  The burning does fade very quickly, however, so this temporarily painful sensation is often worth undergoing if it means comfort during a procedure.

2) The numbing cream sounds great- can I get it for home use?  Topical anesthetic, i.e. numbing cream, is the active ingredient in some over-the-counter medications such as Orajel.  The prescription strength is quite a bit stronger, however, and the reason it is prescription-only is because using too much local anesthetic can be harmful; heart arrthymias, seizures, and even death have been reported after improper use of numbing cream (see the FDA report here).  So it is very important to use topical anesthetic only as directed, and only under the supervision of a doctor.

Do you have any questions about numbing medicine, or ways to reduce pain during possibly painful procedures?

 

 

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Disclaimer: This webpage is for general information only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical illness, or give any specific medical advice. Because medical knowlege is constantly evolving, I cannot guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of any information in this blog.