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Taking time to heal


Susan Gail
This information is essential for your patients to comprehend in order for their postoperative results to be lasting and successful.

To put it bluntly, living through all the stages of healing is a challenge. I know! You really do look dreadful in the beginning, and significant improvements take a while.

Every client of mine told me that no matter how awful they looked, their doctor told them that they never saw anyone heal faster or look better! Do you do that with your patients? My doc did. Reason tells us that not all of us could be that best-healing person, so why say that? My best guess is that it's to boost our morale. Personally, I'd rather have the truth, and so would your patients.

Harrowing experience Looking into the mirror immediately after their surgery can be a harrowing experience for your patients.

Their loved ones can also be disturbed if they are not prepared. I warn my clients in advance to help them cope. That is my strong suggestion to all surgeons. Your patients must also be encouraged to allow significant time until they look normal again. You know as experienced surgeons that healing can be irregular and asymmetrical. In the beginning, your patients will look different every day. Warn them of this. As a patient myself, I knew how different I looked by the expression on my husband's face when he came home each night. It was wild for both of us!

Think they're prepared Even when your patients think they are prepared to witness this, they will still be surprised.

With facelifts, they might have some lumpiness in their cheek and neck areas. By preparing them in advance, they will not be alarmed. I was quite concerned about the cord-like look of my neck as the swelling reduced. My surgeon explained that I have very thin skin, so every lump really shows. Lucky me! I also had dried blood pockets that required vigorous massage as time went on. Advise your patients when to do these massages so they are not taking advice from a friend who recently went through similar surgery but had a different surgeon.

Help your patients accept that they will look bruised for longer than they expect. Prepare them that they might turn several shades of black and blue right away, while turning various shades of green and yellow as they're healing. Bruising can last two to three weeks or even longer, depending on the amount and type of surgery you performed.

Be up-front Truthfully, it will take about three months for your patients to see the results of their surgery. It will be six to nine months before they can even think about revisions, if necessary, and a year before all the skin shrinks and their body adapts completely to the surgical adjustments.


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