The degree of arm lift pain after surgery greatly varies from patient to patient due to individual pain threshold, physical fitness, and extent of surgery (short vs. long incision technique).
Dr. Tarick Smiley, a prominent Orange County plastic surgery expert, says it is expected to experience temporary pain, numbness, tingling sensation, skin sensitivity, and tightness following an arm lift surgery, or medically referred to as brachioplasty.
During an arm lift, Dr. Smiley says the excess skin is removed with incisions made within the armpit fold; however, patients who require extensive correction will need their scar extended into their elbow to achieve the most natural, smoothest results possible.
(Note: Aside from skin excision, the operation also involves reshaping and tightening the fascia, which connects the skin to the muscle. This additional step also contributes to the amount of arm lift pain after surgery.)
The perpendicular scar from “full” or standard arm lift is generally positioned on the inner aspect of the arm so it remains hidden most of the time.
In the first few days, most patients will need narcotics painkillers to help them cope with the discomfort. However, these can be minimized with the use of Exparel injection, which can numb the surgical site for up to four days.
Dr. Smiley, who regularly posts educational videos on Snapchat, often uses Exparel in body contouring surgeries. This medication is injected directly into the muscle before closing the incisions with sutures and has eliminated the need for pain pump, a balloon-like device that slowly releases numbing drugs for several days.
Most patients are “back on their feet” about a week postop and may choose to return to work provided it is only a desk job. Meanwhile, it remains prudent to avoid heavy lifting, rigorous exercise, and stretching the arms for at least six weeks.
Dr. Smiley says that most bruising and swelling will resolve 2-3 weeks. At this period, the use of compression garments might help with their resolution and to some extent even control the pain.
While bruising and swelling tend to resolve easily with time, this may not always be the case with the “lingering” pain or discomfort, which could emanate from sensory nerves starting to “wake up”.
It is important to note that during surgery, some small nerves are injured and can take months to recover fully. While the pinprick sensation or shooting pain is rather inconvenient, this is actually a good sign that the nerves are gradually repairing themselves.
Should the discomfort remain persistent, some patients may take Tylenol and anti-inflammatory drugs, or massage the affected area, provided their surgeons give them permission.
Several studies have been conducted to evaluate long-term liposuction results. In this procedure, the unwanted fats—specifically the subcutaneous fat found beneath the skin—are suctioned out with the use of a flexible tube called cannula.
Some studies have suggested grim findings: After about a year all the benefits of liposuction were gone.
Nevertheless, several studies have also shown that good old-fashioned exercise can preserve liposuction results and prevent patients from regaining fats elsewhere in their body (i.e., areas not treated by the surgery). Of course, physical activities must always be complemented by superb diet, which is an equally critical aspect of long-term weight management.
To shed light on the long-term results of liposuction, a team of Brazilian researchers conducted a study in which 36 healthy but inactive women aged between 20 and 35 had undergone the surgery.
These non-obese participants had 2.5-3 lbs. of abdominal fat removed through liposuction. Afterwards, they were divided into two groups: half were asked to stick to their old habits, while the other half were required to follow a moderate exercise routine.
By six months after liposuction, the first group had regained all the fats previously removed by surgery. And not only that, they developed additional visceral fat—or fat deposition in organs such as the liver and intestines—and thus predisposed them to increased risk of insulin resistance (diabetes), inflammation, and a wide range of health problems.
The uptick in the percentage of visceral fat was notable—about 10 percent more compared to their pre-surgery level.
However, the participants who were asked to perform moderate exercise for four months did not regain fat and even achieve additional health benefits. (Note: The exercise regimen was “doable”—an hour of cardio and weight lifting three times a week.)
Furthermore, the women included in the “exercise group” have improved insulin sensitivity and physical fitness.
The researchers have concluded that exercise can prevent the body from [over] compensating for the abrupt change in the fat composition and distribution caused by liposuction. It is believed that the body has a strong predisposition to defend its fat stores, and a sedentary lifestyle can aggravate this propensity.
Meanwhile, separate studies have suggested that a sedentary/poor lifestyle after liposuction may cause the patients to regain fats in other parts of their body not treated by liposuction, which of course could lead to a disproportionate appearance.
The liposuctioned areas, meanwhile, were less likely to regain fat unless in the event of significant weight gain (i.e., more than 20 lbs.)
With these findings, Dr. Tarick Smiley, a board-certified plastic surgeon who has performed over 9,000 liposuctions, says the long-term success of surgery will always boil down to patient’s commitment to healthy lifestyle.
In the first few weeks of recovery, the use of post facelift makeup can help conceal the bruising and swelling. However, cosmetics are best avoided for at least a week to prevent irritation, infection, and permanent tattooing, which may happen if the cosmetics get into the incision site.
Moreover, post facelift makeup can help some patients show up for work sooner (without drawing some unwanted attention); however, others forego the use of camouflage cosmetics and just patiently wait for their social recovery.
Leading Los Angeles plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley says that most patients look socially presentable at two weeks postop, although it all depends on the type of skin, extent of surgery, individual healing, and propensity to bruise (some are less likely to bruise than others).
Mineral- and water-based cosmetics with hues slightly lighter than the patient’s skin are the best way to conceal discoloration. It is highly ideal to use brand new makeup, sponges, brushes, and applicators to minimize risk of irritation and infection.
On the other hand, oil-based cosmetics are best avoided while the skin is still sensitive because they may cause irritation; they also require a special remover and are harder to take off than mineral and water-based makeup.
However, camouflage cosmetics are not the only thing that can hide postop symptoms. Large sunglasses, turtle neck tops, and scarves can also come in handy, and of course less “troublesome” than applying makeup to conceal skin discoloration.
Once the postop symptoms are gone, makeup application becomes a breeze. In fact, most facelift patients have mentioned that the reduction in their wrinkles makes it easier for them to apply creams and foundation.
The problem with deep lines—e.g., nasolabial folds, or more commonly referred to as laugh lines, and marionette lines, or creases that run straight downwards from the mouth’s corners—is they can trap powder, foundation, or cream, further accentuating their appearance.
To correct facial lines and wrinkles, Dr. Smiley highlights the importance of lifting the SMAS layer (and not just the skin alone). By going deeper into the facial layer, he can deliver more natural results that can persist long term.
To further smooth out the lines, some of his patients require simultaneous fat injection, which can also be used to create a smoother lid-cheek transition, and to plump up the gaunt cheeks.
And with less facial lines and sagging appearance, and “softer” cheeks, most patients find makeup application more pleasant after surgery.
Leading Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley has provided a list of liposuction incision care. The goal is to help it fade into an invisible scar; therefore, all efforts are made to avoid infection and “irritants” that can interfere with healing.
(Note: This is not an extensive list of post-surgery tips as it only tackles issues involving liposuction incision care. However, Dr. Smiley has some previous blog entries involving the ideal postop diet, ways to control swelling and bruising, managing pain, etc.)
Most patients may shower 48 hours after surgery; however, they should never submerge their incisions in water for three weeks. The incision sites must be completely sealed before swimming in pools and using bathtubs to avoid infection.
Moreover, avoid touching the incision area and stay away from pets and dirty bed linen to minimize risk of infection and wound breakdown.
Body lotions, creams, scented soaps, perfumes, and other similar products may irritate the incision site or lead to suboptimal scar appearance. Should the patient experience itching or tingling sensation, which is not uncommon around the incision, anti-itch creams might be an option but only after the incision is completely sealed.
- Scar creams that contain silicone
Once the liposuction incisions are fully healed (around three weeks postop), patients may use scar creams and gels or any topical product containing silicone as its main ingredient. Studies have suggested that silicone hydrates the skin and allows the scar to heal and fade better.
Sun protection—i.e., using sunscreen and protective clothing or staying in the shade—can prevent hyperpigmentation in which the scars become permanently dark due to the over-production of melanin, which gives the skin its color.
The general rule of thumb is to avoid exposing the liposuction scars to the sun for at least six months.
Makeup after eyelid surgery can be used to conceal the swelling and bruising, although most patients are advised to wait at least 7-10 days postop before starting the use of cosmetics.
Patients who wear eye makeup too soon after surgery run the risk of infection and permanent “tattooing” particularly when the cosmetics get into the incisions. Just to be on the safe side, leading Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley says prudent individuals should always ask for their doctor’s consent.
Photo Credit: marin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Once the surgeon gives his permission to use makeup after eyelid surgery, the use of brand new tubs of concealers, creams, foundations, applicators, and sponges is ideal to further reduce the risk of irritation and infection.
In the first few weeks following eyelid surgery, the skin is usually delicate and so the most ideal eye makeup is mineral based, which is known for being gentle but nonetheless effective. Water-based cosmetics are also okay.
Oil-based cosmetics, meanwhile, are ideally avoided in the mean time because they could irritate the still sensitive skin and are more challenging to take off as they require a special remover, which may also cause irritation.
Lighter skin-tone concealers are a great way to hide bruising, which may appear asymmetric (i.e., one side has more prominent “black eye” than the other). However, regular foundation is usually enough to conceal light discoloration, although a thin colored cream may need to be applied to the “adjacent” area to make a smoother, more natural transition of color.
Once all the swelling and bruising are gone, applying eye makeup becomes a breeze.
Dr. Smiley, who regularly performs eyelid surgeries and posts them on his Snapchat to spread patient safety awareness, says the procedure not just addresses the excess skin, but also the glut of fat that contributes to the tired appearance, and the “excessive” fullness that may affect the lower or upper eyelid, or even both.
Some patients even require a simultaneous fat injection to correct the deep tear trough or to create a smooth, natural transition between the lower lid and cheek.
In Dr. Smiley’s previous Snapchat video, one patient has mentioned that after surgery makeup application becomes much easier, or sometimes she “skips it altogether” because of the impressive results.
Before surgery, the patient had hooded upper lids due to excess skin and fat that her eye makeup easily smeared. Also, her concealer or cream settled into the fine lines below her eyes, further contributing to her aged appearance.
Mommy makeover recovery tips all aim to keep the swelling, bruising, and pain to a minimum. Nonetheless, the “specifics” may differ from patient to patient due variables such as individual health, type of surgeries involved, and presence of risk factors (e.g., longer operative time and medical conditions).
Leading Los Angeles plastic surgery expert Dr. Tarick Smiley has shared his mommy makeover recovery tips that can help patients bounce back quick after their operation.
Photo Credit: Exparel website
(Note: All his patients are required to pass lab screening to ensure that they can handle mommy makeover surgery, which is basically a combination of two or more procedures that aim to reverse the effects of pregnancy. For most of his patients, some type of breast enhancement with tummy tuck is the most common “combo surgery.”)
Keeping the amount of postop pain is one of the critical factors that can guarantee a quick recovery. When patients feel no or very little pain, they breathe better and move with more ease, which then promote healing.
Dr. Smiley injects Exparel into the abdominal muscle right after tummy tuck surgery when the patient is still on the operating table. This drug contains bupivacaine, which causes temporary numbness in the area and so the patient relies less on oral painkillers, which may cause nausea, lethargy, and constipation.
Exparel can numb the injection site for up to four days, says the leading plastic surgeon.
Multiple surgeries typically entail a more challenging recovery as compared to “single operation.” Hence, it becomes more important than ever to have a competent adult who is committed to stay with the patient for at least 1-2 days after surgery.
Occasionally, it is more ideal to stay for a few days in a licensed recovery facility, which is staffed by specially trained medical professionals who will monitor the patient’s health before she is able to return home to recover.
It is important to note that for 2-3 weeks, the patient’s main focus should be her recovery. For this reason, she needs someone to take care of her small children and do all the daily chores until she has recovered fully to do all these tasks without compromising her healing.
Dr. Smiley provides all his patients with a list of supplies they will need for their recovery. This can range from ready-to-eat foods, bottled water, pain medications, to compression garments