They say people get crazy around three things - money, sex, and politics. We would add a fourth healing after cosmetic surgery.
Most people heal
Here's the sane part:
most of our patients tell us there is little
pain after facial cosmetic surgery. They say,
"I was surprised because I had no
pain last night just discomfort." If the
worst pain they ever had was a 10, they
tell us their facial rejuvenation ranked
1 or a 2.
our patients breeze through the post-op period,
get their stitches out, make themselves up and
look good pretty quickly. And most
feel good pretty
But not everyone.
Some have a harder time than
Some do have pain. They might tell
us, "My ears hurt I can't sleep on
them." "My neck feels so tight I'm afraid to move it". Or, "My
face feels so fragile I'm afraid it
might burst if I touch it."
When we examine
them, their healing is normal and right on
track. They are having normal amounts of
firmness, bruising, tightness, hardness and
redness. But things are not going the way they
expected and they are afraid.
For perhaps a
quarter of our patients, and you might be one
of them, their sense of well-being gets
replaced by fear and anxiety. It may show up as
irritability or being afraid to smile or touch
your face. Worry may disturb your sleep. You
might constantly peer into the mirror. You,
like a few, may even become certain that
something is terribly wrong.
some of the upset but not all of it. Over the
past 18 years we have noticed some pattern to
the "unsettledness" and think
it's normal for cosmetic surgery patients
to have some of it.
understanding of some of the
Cosmetic surgery has both
physical results and emotional
We undergo cosmetic surgery to
improve our appearance physically in order to
feel better about ourselves emotionally. The
emotional aspects of cosmetic surgery are
inseparable from its physical aspects - just as
the back of your hand is inseparable from the
palm. Distinguishable, yes. Separable, no. So
too there is emotionality accompanying the
physical changes of the healing period.
It all depends. Normal healing
varies a lot from one person to another - both
in its rapidity and in its intensity. We also
have different thresholds when we perceive
pain; some feel pain where others feel only
discomfort. We also hear enormous variation as
to what pain or discomfort means the same
pain for some is a minor nuisance, for others
it feels life-threatening. Further, the normal
discomfort of healing may, over time, be
experienced as pain, especially when fear
Courage fades during
It took such courage for you to
overcome fear and ask us a stranger, no
matter how well-qualified to perform surgery
on your most precious possession, your face.
But, afterwards, when your face is swollen and
bruised, courage fades and fear slides back in.
The fear, for some, lasts throughout the
Identity becomes an issue
Some say they can't recognize
themselves in the mirror at first. This can be
deeply shaking to the child-within, especially
if you think your face is really who you are.
We recommend not looking in mirrors for
the first couple of weeks.
of "temporary" is
There is a fear that your face will always look like this.
Expectations get in the
Your speed of healing and its
intensity are often inherited. Yet one of the
truisms of our practice is that everyone
expects to heal faster than average. Well, it
just doesn't work that way. Half heal
faster than average so half must heal slower
than average. The problem is, the slower half
all feel "it shouldn't be this
way" and "this must mean there's
Trust the process.
Take care of yourself. Take your
pain medication to be comfortable. Be gentle
and kind and spacious with yourself. Give up
your expectation of what should be happening -
and that you should be healing faster than you
are. Avoid mirrors.
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Harvey W. Austin, MD
Berlin MD 21811
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