The average recovery periods for each procedure
are described, but there is considerable variation
from person to person.
In recovery, there is usually some discomfort,
which may be irritating enough to prevent the person
from sleeping as soundly as usual. For example, even
with simply a bandage or a cast, even if no surgery
had been done at all, there will be an annoyance.
Also, post-surgically, the patient will usually be
asked to sleep in a position with the head elevated.
Then, wherever there are stitches or wherever the
surgery has been done, there is soreness and
Add to all of the above the fact that there is
some swelling (which, if around the eyes, may cause
blurring of vision), and the concerns one has about
the results and the possibility of infection and
other complications, you can imagine how it all
might accumulate into restlessness and fatigue.
There is a normal After-Surgery Depression that
should be expected, because it is common and is
easier to withstand if it is expected and
It comes about, for example, when the person
after surgery looks in the mirror and sees that
instead of looking better they look much worse. With
all the discomfort, costs, time off, social
isolation, and fatigue, it is very disappointing to
see oneself so distorted and looking and feeling so
badly, with discoloration and swelling, even though
we know all this is just temporary.
It can be very helpful to see the doctor during
this phase, to go over what the goals were, review
what was done, communicate how things are
progressing, and understand when one can expect
The cure for the depression is the return of
confidence that comes when the person is looking
good, and it is especially quick to go away when the
person feels they
look better than ever. Unfortunately, very often
many weeks or months are required for all the
swelling to go away completely.
It is important for a person who is undergoing a
change in appearance to look normal as quickly as
possible, even if that means wearing much more
make-up than they would ordinarily like to wear. To
strangers, it is better to seem to be wearing too
much make-up than to appear to be injured or
allowing bruises to show.
The only friends you should expose yourself to
when not looking your best are those who are
supportive and will not be critical of you in the
process of trying to look as good as you can. Some
old acquaintances may feel uncomfortable that you
have made this change, and may be under the
impression that you are going to look so good now
that you won't need them anymore. Sometimes an old
friend will feel that you're not going to be their
buddy anymore if you look so much better, and they
need your reassurance that they will still be a part
of your life.
The first persons we should expose ourselves to
after surgery are the people we don't know and will
never see again. It can be very helpful
psychologically to see that our appearance is
acceptable to people who don't know us, even when we
think we look very bad.
It is a good idea to wear sunglasses if it is
allowed, and to wear a scarf if we don't feel our
hair looks good. We can go out, sort of incognito
like the celebrities do. We can take care of our
needs and still have somewhat of a good time during
the healing phase, which is very beneficial to our
mental health. On the other hand, if a person sits
home alone for weeks feeling miserable and doesn't
go out, a feeling of depression can become
exacerbated and serious, even when the surgery has
been very successful.
Many people are happy just to have the operation
over and done. Some people, a few, are never pleased
with anything. Most are reasonable people who
develop a goal with us and are genuinely satisfied
with a permanent improvement in appearance, even if
not everything that was desired was possible via
It is a mistake to allow oneself to become too
excited about an improvement in appearance. Not
everyone will like us better because we are better
Just as wealthy people are often no happier than
poor people, attractive people are not necessarily
happier than those who are not so good-looking.
Frequently, by the time a person has fully
recovered and adjusted to the changes in appearance,
they have trouble remembering exactly what they
looked like in the beginning. It is helpful to have
photographs, and we like to give all of our patients
copies of their before and after photographs.
Many patients take pictures of themselves, and
sometimes a picture a day with any camera along with
some good pictures taken before will show the daily
progress. This will give you a nice record of the
changes that are occurring.
It can be very encouraging to see the resulting
improvement in appearance by comparing your before
and after pictures.
William Roy Morgan M.D., F.A.C.S.
1419 Superior Avenue, Suite 2
Newport Beach CA 92663