Why Plastic Surgeons Don’t Give Much Post-Op Advice
(Or Seem to Care About Your Recovery)
Lack of Good Post Op Advice from Surgeons Is a Real Problem
One of the main complaints from patients that I hear in my plastic surgery recovery clinic is the lack of post-op advice or support from plastic surgeons. It’s not uncommon for patients to feel like they are left to fend for themselves after the procedure, with little guidance on how to manage the recovery process.
Why Your Surgeon Didn’t Give You Much Practical Advice
There are a few reasons why plastic surgeons don’t give much post-op advice or seem to care when you come to them with concerns. First and foremost, they are trained in surgery, not in the recovery process. Their expertise lies in performing the procedure, not necessarily in helping patients navigate the recovery period. While they may have a general understanding of what to expect during recovery, they don’t see the day-to-day challenges that patients face.
In terms of how they are trained, plastic surgeons are taught to “benchmark” patients against expected outcomes at certain stages of recovery – 1 day, 3 days, 3 weeks, 2 months, 6 months – to see if they match what is expected of someone at a given stage of recovery. This means that they may not be as attuned to the individual needs of each patient – why this hurts when you move, why your swelling can be under control one day and totally out of control the next day, or why you have lumps here or there. They are more focused on whether or not the patient is meeting the expected milestones for recovery.
Another factor to consider is that plastic surgeons don’t see patients as frequently as a post-op massage therapist does. While a surgeon may see a patient for a follow-up appointment a few times after the procedure, they don’t see them on a regular basis (meaning a couple of times per week or more). This means that they may not have a clear understanding of the day-to-day challenges that patients face during recovery.
Almost No Lymphatic Training in Medical School
To make matters worse, plastic surgeons often have minimal training in the lymphatic system, which can lead to minimal advice on combating swelling. On average, they may only receive about 30 minutes of training on the lymphatic system. I know it sounds crazy, but here’s a published research study that shows exactly that. “It is disheartening to learn that the average American medical school graduate receives an exposure to the lymphatic curriculum for less than 30 minutes within a four-year medical education.” (!!!?!?!?!?) This lack of understanding can result in patients not receiving adequate advice on how to manage swelling and other related issues.
No Training in Compression Science
Finally, most plastic surgeons have little to no training in compression science. This can lead to confusion when it comes to recommending compression garments for patients. They may recommend the wrong type of compression, such as a binder that cuts off lymphatic flow or confusing stage 1 and stage 2 fajas, which can result in over-compression or under-compression.
As a result of this lack of education, surgeons really don’t know what you are experiencing on a day-to-day basis, nor do they know what to tell you in terms of practical advice to help you with the problems that they don’t really know about or understand. That’s where I come in. Not only do I work on people who have had plastic surgery, but I’ve been through a little of it myself.