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Like it or not, post-surgical swelling is an unavoidable side effect of an invasive procedure. It is, after all, part of the body’s natural response to trauma and a necessary part of the recovery process. 

Whomever your surgeon is at Coppergate Clinic, following surgery you will be provided with a detailed recovery plan, ensuring you experience optimal healing. Adhering to your surgeon’s aftercare advice will also ensure the best possible results after healing is complete. But is there anything you can do to reduce downtime and post-surgery swelling? 

Whilst downtime and recovery varies across all procedures and from patient to patient, there are certainly steps you can take to manage bruising and swelling, and aid recovery. Below, we share some general tips to help you do just that.

Post Surgery Bruising

The appearance of bruising after surgery is due to blood leaking from small blood vessels (capillaries) once the surgery is complete. Although most of these vessels are cauterised during surgery, there may be some mild bleeding when your blood pressure returns to normal. Mild to moderate post-operative bruising is inevitable and is rarely serious or cause for concern. Post-surgical bruising tends to peak within the first few days of a procedure, initially appearing black, dark purple or blue, before fading to green, yellow or brown around six days post-op. Bruised skin should gradually return to normal, with bruising expected to subside altogether within a couple of weeks. 

Post Surgery Swelling

After any trauma to the body, cells release chemicals which affect the absorbency of blood vessels in the area of the injury. Surgery, although controlled, causes trauma by way of incisions. This increase in permeability allows fluids, white blood cells, and other chemicals to flood the areas to start the healing process. This process is known as inflammation or swelling. Like bruising, the swelling will be its worst for the initial days following surgery. It will usually begin to subside after 7 days, and by the second week after surgery, you should see about a 75% reduction. Six weeks after surgery you should see a 90% reduction with continued improvement over the next few months.

Managing Bruising and Swelling After Surgery

There are a number of things you can do to manage post-surgical bruising and swelling. The following suggestions should only be followed under the guidance of your surgeon given not all approaches may be suitable for individual patients or surgeries.


After surgery, you may be wearing a compression garment when you wake from the anaesthesia, particularly following a body contouring procedure. This compression accelerates the healing by minimising swelling and increasing the circulation to the vital area. Generally speaking, compression garments are initially worn night and day (unless showering or bathing), with the recommended period of wear decreasing as healing progresses.


As a rule, you should aim to elevate the treatment site periodically or as recommended by your surgeon. Doing so encourages fluids to drain away from the wound area, thereby limiting bruising and inflammation. After facial surgery, it is likely you will be asked to sleep propped up on an extra pillow or two for this reason. 

Avoid excessive heat

For the first couple of weeks after surgery, you should avoid excessive heat including hot baths or showers as the heat can promote swelling. Similarly, saunas and steam rooms are also off limits until your surgeon advises you otherwise. 

Maintain hydration

Ensure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and you will give your body a head start in the healing process. Maintaining healthy hydration levels will help your body to flush out toxins, whilst also reducing any bruising or swelling after surgery.

Eat a balanced diet

Maintain a healthy diet and limit your sodium intake- consuming salty foods can increase post-operative swelling and should be avoided during your recovery. Greens, eggs, and yoghurt are excellent sources of vitamin K which is a great component to reduce swelling.

Learn more about swelling after surgery

Plastic surgery is a life-changing event for many patients and can affect their confidence level and promote a positive self-image. However, plastic surgery is still surgery and requires a carefully planned recovery with a commitment to carefully managed healing and recovery. Taking the recommended steps to reducing bruising and swelling will also ensure you are able to enjoy your results sooner rather than later. Whether you’re interested in breast augmentation or VASER liposuction, our team of specialists are here to guide you through the process.

For more information about recovery after plastic surgery and how to manage bruising and swelling, contact our friendly team today.

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