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How Long Until I’m Back on my Feet?

Recovery time is a viable concern when you’re making the decision to move forward with any medical procedure. Since many cosmetic procedures are elective, recovery time poses additional financial concerns. If time is money, and cosmetic procedures are already paid for out of pocket, then shorter recovery times are ideal for the average person.

Good news: many of the most sought-after cosmetic surgeries are very routine and don’t have a lot of post-surgery downtime. In some cases, plastic surgery can be performed on an outpatient basis with little or no time lost from work and other daily activities. Understanding the recovery process and any measures you can take to speed it up will only help with the success of your experience.

Following is a description of the recovery time for some of the most common cosmetic procedures, the recovery process you can expect from each, and some things you can do to speed it along. Note: Anesthesia is required for each of these surgeries, so you will need to have someone drive you home from the hospital, clinic, or surgery center.

Breast Augmentation

Breast augmentation is the most common cosmetic surgery performed in the United States today, so it has a fairly streamlined recovery process. A typical patient is released from the place of surgery the same day as the procedure.

You should have a period of downtime for 24 to 48 hours following the surgery, with little to no activity other than getting up to go to the bathroom. It’s a good idea to have a caretaker stay with you during this time, or at least have one or more people checking in on you periodically throughout the day.

You should continue to have a lower than normal activity level for a few more days. If you work sitting down or your job doesn’t require a lot of movement, you can return to work just a few days after the surgery, or whenever you feel up to it. You will continue to experience some soreness and swelling for about three weeks after the surgery.

Keeping your breasts stable will help with healing and pain management. A comfortable, supportive bra can help limit swelling and movement.

Tummy tuck

A tummy tuck can take up to a month to recover from, because the procedure involves moving and tightening the abdominal wall muscles and removing excess skin.

The body’s core is affected each time you make even a slight movement, so you will not want to move at all in the first few days following surgery. You will need some help at home for one to three days. Try asking a close friend, family member, or someone you know who’s already undergone a similar procedure.

Because all the body’s movements are connected to the abdomen, each time you move you will be slightly stretching and pulling at the incision sites, which can cause excess scar tissue to form. That’s why you should limit your physical activity as much as you can during the month after surgery and get clearance from your doctor before returning to an exercise routine, which should be introduced gradually.

You should plan to take a week off work following the surgery, unless your job is very physically demanding, in which case you may need one to three weeks of downtime. You can wear an abdominal binding garment to help with swelling, pain, and healing. Ask your nurse or surgeon about getting one before surgery.


Liposuction recovery varies from two days to two weeks, depending on the extent of the fat deposits removed. In most cases, there will be about two days of downtime followed by one to two weeks of a reduced activity level. After two days most patients can return to work and after two weeks most patients can begin exercising again.

Liposuction sites are usually in the midsection, and your particular site will determine how restricted your recovery period is. If you have liposuction on your buttocks or the back of your thighs, for example, you will have a difficult time sitting down for about a week.

Any stitches you receive will be removed in five to ten days and at that time your surgeon will evaluate your recovery process. As with all cosmetic procedures, limiting your movements and activity level as much as possible will aid healing and prevent scarring.


Rhinoplasty has a recovery process that takes place over a short period of time, sometimes within two weeks. The cartilage continues to heal and reform for several months, but any pain, swelling, bruising, and bandages associated with the surgery disappear within one month.

Patients come home from surgery the same day but will need to take about a week of downtime from work and other regular activities in which they relax and recline at home most of the time. External stitches are removed after five days. An external cast protects the nose, and this is removed after one week. Stents are removed anywhere from five days to two weeks.

The bruising associated with rhinoplasty often gives patients two black eyes, sometimes referred to as “panda eyes.” This bruising usually heals within two weeks. A good pair of large-rimmed sunglasses can help conceal them.

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