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When preparing for a plastic surgery procedure, it's just as important to research your aftercare as it is to select the best plastic surgeon. You want to know how to properly take care of the investment you just made in your body. When diligently followed, your aftercare plan is what will get you looking and feeling better - faster. At Mend, we are goal oriented - your goals are our goals.

After surgery, you may be quite swollen for the first few weeks. This is known as the inflammatory stage of healing

Your tissues are infiltrated with transudate including leaked lymphatic fluid, water, protein, and cellular waste, as well as any retained tumescent fluid. This is the body's normal response to the surgery. The inflammatory phase of healing is actually necessary for healing!

However, all of that excess fluid can make you feel uncomfortable. There may also be bruising at the surgically treated areas. You will feel tight and stiff.   The MLD during this time will to help you feel more comfortable by relieving pain, bruising and swelling. It will also expedite the healing process by facilitating improved wound oxygenation and nourishment and the removal of metabolic waste.

After your first couple of massages, you will feel relieved and you will notice that you are urinating more than normal. Plan on having 1-3 MLD sessions your first few weeks post op for optimal relief.

After the "watery" edema begins to subside, some clients find that they feel firmness or bumps in the surgically treated areas. This corresponds to the "proliferation stage" of healing. Your body is now working hard to reapir the surgically treated areas. This an important point to continue receiving lymphatic drainage as it will facilitate your body's healing in a smoother and more uniform way.

The next step is called the remodeling stage of healing. It is important to continue with your massages through this time to ensure that the scar tissue does not thicken or arrange itsself in a haphazard manner.

Ensuring a Speedy Recovery

There is no shortage of information and opinions on the internet. It's easy to spend hours on YouTube and social media deep diving into "tips" and stories about how people recovered from their surgery. I caution against this for a number of reasons, the first one being that the vast majority of these videos are posted by folks without any training in medicine, massage therapy, or the lymphatic system. 

When having your pre op surgery consultation, inquire about the surgeon's aftercare protocol. Then, you need to factor that into your surgery budget and plan to follow it. Make sure that your recovery plan is specific to your body and healthcare needs. What's right for someone else might not be appropriate for you. There are many health related factors that can impact your recovery.

If your aftercare plan calls for manual lymphatic drainage, be sure to seek treatment with a properly trained certified lymphedema therapist (CLT) or certified manual lymphatic drainage therapist (CMLDT) and know the difference between the two. A CLT has received medical level education with a mandatory minimum of 135 hours of training in the anatomy and physiology of the lymphatic system. Approximately 35 hours of the theoretical coursework is online; 100 hours of the training is required to be live and hands on in the classroom. CLTs are trained to treat patients with lymphedema.

A CMLDT receives approximately 40 hours of training. This training may or may not be offered online in combination with live instruction. Since there is no set standard for CMLDT training, it depends on the school the therapist attends. Those who complete this course are not trained to treat patients with lymphedema. 

It is important to interview the person you're seeking your aftercare with. Ask your post op massage therapist 1. if they are a licensed massage therapist 2. if they are a CLT or CMLDT and 3. if they received their instruction online or in person. If the therapist is not licensed, do not hire them. If you wouldn't hire an unlicensed doctor to perform your surgery, why would you hire an unlicensed massage therapist to perform your post op massages? If they have received their "certificate" via online instruction only, do not hire them. They are not sufficiently trained to treat post surgical clients. The risk of developing complications after any type of surgical procedure is very real. You absolutely do not want someone manipulating your body if they are not properly trained and well seasoned in their discipline. 

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