Rather than viewing the one day of surgery as the be-all and end-all, it is more productive to look at the larger picture – a range of 28 – 60 days. This lengthy time period includes pre-op skin stimulating and conditioning, the surgery procedure and post-op soothing and healing treatments. It is best to begin pre-op skin treatments 14 – 30 days prior to surgery with post-op treatments starting immediately and continuing for 14 – 30 days depending on the surgical procedure.
Before Surgery – The Pre-Op Plan
The pre-op treatment phase is primarily about cleansing and stimulating the skin – preparing it to be the most optimal state prior to the surgery. Pre-op skin care treatments are designed to exfoliate, cleanse and strengthen; creating healthier skin that heals faster following surgery. Pre-treatment plays a major factor in minimizing redness following surgery and reducing problems that can occur with uneven pigmentation.
Recommended pre-op treatments may include: glycolic peels, oxygen treatments, antioxidant treatments and eye treatments. Products recommended for at-home pre-op daily skin care should include: glycolic cleanser, antioxidant toner, glycolic lightening gel, a sun protecting cream, antioxidant moisturizer, glycolic eye and neck cream and antioxidant scrub and mask.
The intensity of the in-office treatments coupled with the consistency of the at-home daily skin care regimen work hand-in-hand to maximize skin preparation for surgery. Understanding the effects of the products can help in developing the treatment plan.
Glycolic acids exfoliate the skin’s surface, eliminating dead skin cells, dirt, oil and bacteria. It also stimulates the skin’s healing processes, increasing blood flow and cell renewal rate.
A topically applied antioxidant is an effective means of creating a hydrating and nourishing environment for the skin’s cells. As antioxidants penetrate the skin, they protect cells against free radical damage while at the same time heightening the metabolic processes to increase cellular immunity.
Another area of treatment relates specifically to laser surgery. For laser surgery patients, skin lightening products become a mandatory part of the pre-op plan. Hydroquinone and kojic acid regulate melanin cells to prevent post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
After Surgery – The Post-Op Plan
The post-op treatment phase is primarily about soothing and healing. Post-op procedures are designed to comfort and speed the recovery process. Treatments and products promote the skin’s natural healing abilities and nurture patients through the healing process.
Recommended post-op in office treatments should include post-op soothing treatments, lymphatic massage treatments and camouflage makeup application.
Products incorporated throughout this post-op plan include a gentle lightening cleanser, a soothing moisture mist, gentle lightening gel, protective ointment, protective creams and exfoliating masks. Some products provide a mild, numbing effect for post-laser skin care while others hydrate the skin to relieve feelings of irritation and dryness.
In the post-op phase, it might be just as important to take time to develop a list of items not to use. Following surgery, the skin is extremely sensitive. Harsh cleansers containing ingredients such as sodium laurel sulfate, Retin-A, glycolic acid and benzoyl peroxide will stress the skin and slow the recovery process.
For post laser patients, a mandatory element of the post-op skin care plan is the use of gentle lightening products to prevent post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. In addition, these patients must use sun protection with a minimum SPF 15 on a daily basis.
Developing a complete pre and post operative skin care regime, with home care products to enhance the skin’s natural healing process, will maximize the results of cosmetic surgery while minimizing recovery time. Properly preparing the skin prior to surgery places it in optimal condition for the surgical procedure.
The surgeon must also realize that it doesn’t end with the surgery. By taking a holistic approach to the cosmetic surgery procedure, it could ensure more satisfied patients. Continuing to support patients with a skin care regimen following the surgery helps to maintain the investment they have made in their cosmetic surgery. This creates a broad base of committed patients speaking positively about the results of their surgery experience.