Constipation is not uncommon after plastic surgery or any type of surgical operation. Oftentimes, the culprit is the use of narcotic pain medications, which have been found to slow down the movement of colon, thus they are usually prescribed together with stool softener.
It is also helpful to minimize the use of narcotics such as Dilaudid and Percocet. If the pain has dissipated to a substantial degree, which typically occurs within three to five days, most plastic surgeons instruct their patients to switch to Tylenol-like drugs that have fewer side effects and are less likely to cause constipation.
Antibiotics can also contribute to constipation as it kills off “good” bacteria in the bowel.
Aside from antibiotics and narcotic pain medications, hardened feces might also occur due to lack of mobility or prolonged bed rest, which also results in lack of movement in the bowels. However, light exercise such as walking and simple leg stretching is a sure way to counteract this side effect.
Aside from improved bowel movement after plastic surgery, light exercise has been known to accelerate recovery, minimize swelling, and reduce the risk of blood clot in the deep veins of the legs. Nevertheless, heavy lifting and strenuous exercise—or any activity that could significantly increase one’s heart rate and blood pressure—must be avoided for at least three weeks to prevent bleeding and poor wound healing.
To further prevent postop constipation, another common instruction of Inland Empire plastic surgery experts is to maintain good hydration by drinking plenty of fluids. While the standard recommendation is to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water, the reality is that the ideal amount depends on the environment, physical activities, and weight of patients.
A good rule of thumb is to drink fluids, preferably water and not sugary beverages, even before the feeling of thirst sets in, which could be an indication that one is already dehydrated.
In addition to good hydration, a diet rich in fiber can also promote good bowel movement. But during the initial healing phase, it is not uncommon to have poor appetite or to experience change in one’s eating habits, which could “upset” the usual mechanism of the digestive tract and lead to constipation.
Foods high in fiber such as prunes, yogurts (fortified with more “gut” bacteria), beans, kiwi, whole grain breads and cereals, and pears are known to relieve constipation. Meanwhile, chocolates, rice, apples, unripe bananas, dairy products, and caffeine are known to have “binding” effect.