Staying in the hospital after cosmetic surgery is something many patients ask about. There are many benefits to and several myths about hospital stays. The truth is, most patients across the country go home after almost all types of cosmetic surgery, whether the surgery is performed in the hospital, a free standing outpatient surgicenter, or in a doctor’s office.
Though most patients go home after their surgery, many choose to stay overnight. Why? For some, the convenience of not having to go home and deal with kids is appealing, as is avoiding a long drive home. For others, it is the peace of mind knowing that they are in the safest place they can be after a lengthy operation.
The main issue is safety. All patients need to begin their recovery in a safe and comfortable place where they can be watched and cared for. For some people, this is in the comfort and privacy of their own home, together with a very responsible friend, relative or private nurse. Operations like breast augmentation, routine liposuction or eyelid surgery are perfect for home aftercare. They are short, sweet and uncomplicated. Other operations, like tummy tucks, facelifts, rhinoplasty and breast reductions might require an overnight stay. While these patients can certainly go home, I believe that staying overnight gives them a jumpstart to a better recovery.
Some operations have additional issues such as special positioning, potential bleeding, the need for help with getting in and out of bed or help with drains. The nursing services in the hospital are trained to deal with these issues. Immediately after surgery the nurses can be responsible for this care. The next morning, when the patient is more alert, the nurses are better able to review the post-op instructions. This helps to reassure the patient so they can then go home and begin their recovery with confidence.
Certain operations are better suited for overnight stays. For these procedures, I recommend that patients stay overnight. Most patients who have body lifts, extended tummy tucks, large volume liposuction, comprehensive facial surgery or combinations of two or more procedures would be included in this group. These types of operations can be long and it's nice not to have to go home directly after such a long anesthetic.
Patients can easily be treated for any pain or nausea via a variety of different medications. I think the biggest benefit is that they can continue to receive intravenous fluids, which not only decreases nausea but also keeps you well hydrated and reduces blood clots (DVT). Sequential compression stockings worn throughout the night can be effective in reducing blood clots known as deep venous thrombosis or DVT.
Northwest Hospital has developed a Center of Excellence in Cosmetic Surgery. Northwest supports those patients who choose to have cosmetic surgery by providing the safest and most comfortable environment in order to achieve the best results possible. The Long Phase Recovery (LRP) is offered as part of this service. The LRP program allows patients to stay up to 23 hours after surgery in order to begin their recovery. Patients are comforted in knowing that they have the support of all of the hospital resources from the privacy of their own room.
In summary, while hospital stays after tummy tuck are not necessary, there is great value in using them if they are readily available. In planning your surgery you need to consider not only the surgery, and the facility where the surgery is performed, but also the best environment for you to begin your recovery. No matter whether you go home or stay overnight, the best time to prepare for after surgery is well before the operation begins.
-Written by Ronald H. Schuster, M.D., Division Head, Cosmetic Surgery Center at Northwest Hospital
Read Dr. Schuster's previous blog post: All About Breast Reconstruction Surgery
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