Here’s How To Minimize Bruising After Plastic Surgery

Written by Amy Bekanich, MD, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on May 30, 2023 No Comments

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Bruising after plastic surgery is a common, yet unpleasant side effect. Bruising can occur anytime blood vessels are injured and is part of the natural healing process. Thus, post-surgical bruising is common after many different types of plastic surgery procedures including facelift, rhinoplasty, breast augmentation, and liposuction. The extent of your bruising will depend on the procedure you had done and your personal susceptibility to bruising.

Bruises typically go away on their own after one to two weeks. During the process, they may change in color from dark blue or purple to green, then yellow or light brown. If your bruises will be in a visible area, such as your face, they can be embarrassing. If this is a concern of yours, speak with your doctor about how much time you should take off from work or other activities. In addition, the following tips can help minimize the severity and duration of bruising.

Avoid Anticoagulants

Minimizing bruising after plastic surgery begins before you undergo your procedure. If you’re taking medication that thins your blood, inform your doctor. Blood thinners such as aspirin and ibuprofen can make bruising much worse. Typically, it’s safe to discontinue these medications for 2 weeks before and after your procedure.

Note that some natural supplements can also thin your blood. These include Omega-3s and fish oils, vitamin E and green tea supplements.

Avoid Drinking Alcohol

Even in small amounts, alcohol is a vasodilator, meaning it makes your blood vessels larger. At excessive consumption levels, alcohol acts as a vasoconstrictor, increasing your blood pressure. No matter how much is consumed, alcohol increases the likelihood of bruising. Abstaining from alcohol one week before your surgery and up to two weeks after will reduce this risk.

Apply a Cold Compress

Within the first 24 to 48 hours after your procedure, apply ice to minimize bruising. To avoid damaging your skin with too much cold, wrap ice packs in a thin towel and ice for no more than 20 minutes at a time. You may apply the cold compress regularly throughout the day.

Use a Warm Compress

After the first 48 hours, as swelling subsides, switch to a warm compress. Try wrapping a hot water bottle in a towel to protect your skin from too much heat. Never leave a warm, wet towel directly on an incision. You might alternate between warm and cold compress throughout the day.

Avoid Hot Showers

While warm compress can do wonders, too much heat can promote bruising. During the first 1-2 weeks, avoid super-hot showers or forceful streams of water contacting the surgery site. Instead, keep your showers brief and just warm enough.

Wear Compression Garments

If you’ve been sent home with a compression garment, wear it exactly as directed until your doctor advises otherwise. Compression minimizes bruising by reducing swelling and promoting circulation away from the area where you had your procedure.

Elevate the Treated Area

If possible, keep the treated area elevated so it is higher than your heart. This reduces bruising after cosmetic surgery by preventing blood from pooling in the treated area. After a facial procedure, elevate your head day and night by stacking pillows or using a bed wedge.

Avoid Strenuous Exercise

Light, gentle movement such as walking is beneficial, as it promotes circulation and healing. Too much exercise, including heavy lifting or bending over, can worsen bruising. In the first 1-2 weeks after your procedure, it is important for patients to emphasize rest and refrain having an elevated heart rate. Always wait to be properly cleared by your surgeon before resuming your pre-surgery workout routine.

Eat Healthy and Hydrate

Reducing your sodium intake and eating dark leafy greens and other sources of vitamin K may help reduce bruising. In addition, staying hydrated is vital to the healing process. Drink plenty of water each day, while minimizing or abstaining from dehydrating caffeine and alcohol.

Consider Anti-Bruising Supplements

Talk to your doctor about adding natural supplements to help minimize bruising. The following may help when you begin taking them prior to surgery.

Arnica: This homeopathic medication can help reduce bruises. As a supplement, Arnica comes in a liquid or tablet form. Either should be dissolved under your tongue about 15-30 minutes before meals. Start with 60 cc daily 1-2 days before surgery. Topical arnica, through an ointment, may also be an option.

Bromelain: This natural enzyme decreases bruising. The pineapple-derived supplement is found at most natural health food stores. Start with 500mg daily the day before your procedure, then continue for up to one week.

Vitamin C: This vitamin has antioxidant properties which may help prevent bruises or help them heal faster. Take a time-release capsule of 500mg once or twice daily.

Amy Bekanich, MD

my Sanders Bekanich, MD is a board-certified plastic surgeon by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Bekanich her medical degree at Oregon Health and Sciences University. She then completed residencies in both General Surgery as well as Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Residency at University of Utah Health Sciences Center. Dr. Bekanich has a passion for assisting patients in their journey to help transform their lives and feel like themselves again.

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