Average Recovery Times for 7 Common Plastic Surgery Procedures

In order to make the best decision for your body, it’s helpful to understanding the recovery process for any cosmetic or plastic surgery procedure you’re interested in. From minimally-invasive BOTOX injections to a highly-corrective body lift, every health or beauty procedure comes with a recovery period that you’ll want to be prepared for.

During surgery, your body’s tissue is manipulated. As a good rule of thumb for any surgical procedure, it’s important to remember that when that happens, it takes about two weeks (on average) for your natural energy and tissue vitality to be restored.

However, this is not the case for all surgical procedures. Though it applies to most, the recovery process and downtime for each procedure varies based on several factors, including age, weight, and overall health— just to name a few. In this article, we’ll cover the most common plastic surgery procedures and their recovery times. Because making sure you’re properly informed about procedures helps ensure you make the best decision for your unique body.

Breast Surgery

Any breast surgery (from augmentations and lifts, to reductions or combination procedures) generally results in slight initial discomfort. Typically, this can be controlled with anti-inflammatory agents, such as Ibuprofen or Naprosyn, and a couple days of surgeon-prescribed narcotic oral pain medications.

After breast surgery, the biggest restriction is often the inability to lift anything heavier than 15 pounds. We advise patients to avoid this heavy lifting for at least two weeks post-surgery to ensure the body has the time it needs to heal properly. Most women will find that this procedure isn’t particularly hard on the body, and that they are able to return to work or regular daily activities around 4-5 days post-op.


Many people assume that a facelift is extremely painful. However, the procedure itself can actually numb the face for months, meaning that minimal discomfort is more common in terms of what to expect. In addition, the face will also swell a bit around the third day post-op. This is completely normal! After about 2 weeks, around 80% of your swelling should be gone, and around a month post-op you should find that your back to your normal self again (but better!).

The last thing to keep in mind when considering a facelift is bruising… Again, this is completely normal, particularly in the neck region. For this, Dr. Lucas recommends wearing a neck compression garment for about 2 weeks (during the swelling phase). After that, you should be good and ready to return to your regular routine!

Brow Lift or Upper & Lower Eyelid Rejuvenation Surgery

These common procedures are extremely beneficial to the overall youthfulness of the face. As with many facial features, surgical procedures around the eyes tend to follow a similar recovery process as a facelift. However, there are a few slight differences to be aware of when considering a brow lift or blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery).

These procedures tend to result in minimal pain and discomfort, caused mainly by swelling. Like a facelift, peak swelling in or around the eyes or brows will likely occur around day 3 post-op and be about 80% resolved after 2 weeks post-op. Unlike a facelift, however, dry eyes and blurred vision are also common side effects for the first week or so. This can feel especially scary if your surgeon fails to talk to you about common side effects in advance, and can be even more uncomfortable if you aren’t advised against wearing contacts for about 2 weeks post-op. In short, this is a prime example of why choosing the right surgeon for YOU is so important.

Dry eyes and the inability to wear contracts for about two weeks is the norm. Blurred vision for the first week is also normal.

Rhinoplasty (Nose Job)

Getting a nose job is a big decision— one that requires a caring, meticulous surgeon. In order to best reposition the cartilage and bone in the nose (and ultimately create the look you want), Dr. Lucas requires that every prospective patient comes in for a detailed consultation in which he works with them on a surgical plan that’s right for their unique face.

After a rhinoplasty, discomfort due to swelling is normal (and again, to be expected with any facial procedure). However, pain is minimal… at least, it is at The Lucas Center! Because the leading cause of discomfort post-nose surgery is from packing the nose, Dr. Lucas does not do this during his rhinoplasties. What he does do is require patients to wear a splint for the first 3 days post-op, followed by taping of the nose for 2 weeks. This allows the overlying skin to adapt to the new shape underneath.

Another notable side effect during rhinoplasty recovery is bruising. While some discoloration is expected, Dr. Lucas works hard to create a plan utilizing gentle techniques that prevent bruising around the eyes. Difficulty breathing may also occur, but can be improved with the help of topical and oral over-the-counter decongestants, such as Afrin or Sudafed.

All in all, the complete recovery for this surgery takes about 6 months, but you should see significant improvement and be back to normal, non-strenuous activities after the first month.

Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)

This procedure is all about the removal of excess skin and fat in order to restore the abdominal wall muscles and improve the overall look of a patient’s mid-region. Although this is a powerful, restorative procedure that Dr. Lucas highly recommends, it can be quite painful to recover from. This is because the patient’s core strength is being manipulated during the procedure, causing any movement up or down to ache a bit.

The first week is the hard part with this recovery. After about 2 weeks, patients feel much better and find that feelings of relief and true confidence begin to set in. As part of Dr. Lucas’s protocol, anti-inflammatories, narcotics, and a temporary pain pump implant are all used to help ease the pain post-surgery. Patients will also have temporary drains put in for about a week and be recommended a compression garment to wear over the abdomen for about 6 weeks.

It sounds like a lot (and it can be for the faint of heart), but this procedure remains one of the most transformative in the industry today.

Power-Assisted Liposuction (PAL) and/or Butt Enhancement

For those who don’t know, PAL is a unique, highly-advanced technique utilized at The Lucas Center frequently. It can be used on several areas of the body (arms, flanks, thighs, and more) and allows for the release of fibrous tissue, which makes it easier to tease out loose fat through a very small hole. This technique, as Dr. Lucas describes it, is “extremely transformative and more precise than traditional liposuction, which makes for a smoother surface area and truly satisfying results.”

The best part? Hardly any downtime post-op! Patients may experience bruising or slight discomfort and be advised to wear a compression garment, but overall these procedures are nothing compared to larger surgeries. Typically, those who elect to undergo one of these restorative procedures are able to return to work in a matter of days.

Gynecomastia (Male Breast Reduction Surgery)

After a man decides to enhance his chest with gynecomastia surgery, compression garments are required for about 6 weeks. This encourages the skin to reshape and take on the desired appearance discussed during the initial consultation with his surgeon.

In terms of pain, many have compared it to the ache felt after a good chest workout. Patients are usually able to return to work and non-strenuous daily activities after a few days with hardly no scarring. Since Dr. Lucas only makes two small incisions (one on the areola and one near the armpit), any scars appear almost non-existent for patients who have not undergone major weight loss.

Men who have lost significant weight or experience loose, inelastic skin typically require the most tissue removal during surgery, therefore they also experience some additional scarring. These scars are positioned within the breast folds and around the areola and fade over time. If this is an area of concern for his patient, Dr. Lucas will recommend a good over-the-counter topical cream to help reduce the appearance of the scars.


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