Find out what you can do to improve the resolution of your facial swelling after rhinoplasty, eyelid, facelift and fat grafting surgery.

Who doesn't want to speed up the resolution of their swelling after facial plastic surgery? While tissue swelling, or edema, is a normal reaction to many plastic surgery procedures there are a few tips that I tell patients who are looking to speed up their recovery.

Raise Your Head

Probably the simplest thing you can do to speed up the improvement of your facial swelling is to sleep with your head elevated. This doesn't mean that you have to sleep bolt upright (it's important to rest well for the healing process, too)! I recommend to my patients to elevate their head at least 35 to 40 degrees. This can be done by adding some pillows to their bed or by sleeping in a recliner. The main goal is to raise your head above your heart so that gravity will help your body whisk away the tissue fluid while you sleep. I'm often asked how long to maintain this routine. That's a good question and there's no fixed answer. It really depends on your preference and how much you want to decrease your swelling further. No matter what you do your facial swelling will improve and get to the same endpoint. We're merely trying to get to that endpoint faster.

Turn Down the Heat

Sun exposure and warmer environments will tend to cause increased facial swelling compared with if you stay out of direct sunlight and stay in relatively cooler places. Avoiding direct sunlight is also good for proper incision healing as well.

Exercise and Swelling

I find that patients who return to heavy workouts early after their surgery tend to have a bit more tissue swelling compared with those who hold off on their workouts. This is especially the case with rhinoplasty surgery, where I recommend refraining from intense exercise for at least 3 weeks. With the increased blood pressure from exercise comes increased swelling and aching.

The Low Sodium Diet

Probably the most powerful recommendation I have for patients who want to actively improve their facial swelling is to have them follow a low sodium diet. Limiting sodium intake to 1500 mg a day or less effectively acts as a diuretic (or water pill). The result is less retain body fluid, including wherever your surgery was done. The effect is especially useful in my rhinoplasty patients since the swelling tends to last here longer than other parts of the face.

"But I Never Add Salt to My Food"

Many patients tell me that they never add any salt to their food so they must be following a low sodium diet already. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case since sodium is found in so many foods (especially processed, pre-packaged foods). If you don't believe me try following my Low Salt Diet for a day to see where you stand. Keep track of your intake using the nutrition labels on everything you eat. You'll probably be surprised.

In my next post I'll talk about how you can realistically follow the Low Sodium Diet. In true culinary fashion I'll even give some specific food item suggestions that allow you to maintain a flavorful diet.


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