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PATIENT STORY: Deborah, Part Three: Plastic surgery patient describes the days after surgery

(Note from Dr. David Magilke:  In my practice I’ve noticed that prospective patients are very curious about the actual experience of any surgery or procedure  they’re considering undergoing. My patient Deborah Sayler (that’s her real name) has agreed to share her experience on my blog.  We performed a xxx on Deborah in our surgical suite on June 7, 2010.  This series of five blog entries describes Deborah’s decision-making process, her surgical experience, and her recovery.  The pieces were written by journalist Margie Boule. This is the third of five entries.)

“I looked around and said, ‘Don’t worry about it, girls. You should see the other guy.’ ”

Deborah didn’t sleep well the night after surgery.

“I’d take my medications and within an hour or two, I’d start to itch,” all over her body.

She arrived at Dr. Magilke’s office at 1 P.M. for her scheduled day-after-surgery follow-up.  Dr. Magilke said she must be having an allergic reaction; he told her to take an antihistamine to relieve the itching.

Dr. Magilke removed two small drainage tubes under Deborah’s chin.

She’d been experiencing pain, so Deborah had been taking the pain medications she’d been prescribed before the surgery.  “He told me when I got the turban off, I probably wouldn’t need the pain medications anymore.  It was absolutely true. The third day, as soon as the turban came off, the pain immediately started to go away.”

The second night, Deborah had had trouble sleeping.  “The pain kept breaking through.” She’d continued to take her pain medications, which helped.

After the turban dressing was removed on the third day, “they shampoo your hair for you, and dry it  on a very low temperature.  It was very refreshing, to say the least.”

When Deborah looked in the mirror, “I was stunned by the fact I didn’t have this black-and-blue bruising everywhere.  I’d thought my whole neck and face would be this dark purple, black and blue.  And it wasn’t.  In a couple places it was a little worse than others – I had what I called ‘collateral damage’ – a couple black eyes.  But it wasn’t as bad as I’d expected. Which I think is also a testiment to the skill of the surgeon. I believe surgeons who rush and perhaps don’t do their surgery as carefully as they might, I think cause more bruising and a longer recovery time.”

The third night, after her dressing had been removed, Deborah came home, got into bed, “and I slept for six hours, non-stop.  The third night I made up for” the lost sleep of the previous two nights.

Deborah had been given “what I called my Hannibal Lector mask. It’s a removable compression hood they give you to wear, with three Velcro sections.  It’s a compression dressing, but it’s removable.  You wear it most of the time for the first two weeks.  It completely holds you in so your face is exposed, but your head is all wrapped up.  They say you don’t have to wear it in public if you don’t want to.”  But Deborah decided she didn’t mind.

Four days after surgery, she walked into a local coffeehouse. “It was Friday morning at 11, and it must have been a mommy and children meet-and-greet.  I walk in  and the place is filled with young mommies and kids and strollers. I have two black eyes, and a neck that’s black-and-blue, wearing this hood.  And all conversation stopped.  I looked around and said, ‘Don’t worry about it, girls.  You should see the other guy.’

“I got my coffee, went to the bank, went home and went to bed.”

In week two, Deborah went out more. “The bruising was really improving substantially, every single day.  Which was really good, because I bruise easily.  This is an indicator of the skill of the surgeon. I really expected,  from stories I’d heard from girlfriends, that I’d have a lot of bruising.  I didn’t have nearly the bruising my girlfriends had had.

In week two Deborah “used a little tinted moisturizer” to cover what bruising remained.

Deborah continued to visit Dr. Magilke’s office.  “He kept telling me what a great chin I have.”  She’d always had it, it had just been hidden before.

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