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What is Post Operative Care?

Published on: 3 May 2019

Mr Debashis Ghosh

NHS Consultant
GMC Number: 4657664

Medically reviewed by a licensed NHS consultant
Last updated: 15/08/2019

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Photo credit: ldutko / Shutterstock

Post operative care, also known as post-op care, is the care you receive after you have been in a surgical procedure. How much and how extensive your post-op care is dependent on which type of surgery you have, as well as your health history.

Post-op care begins immediately after you have had your surgery. It lasts for the duration of the time you spend at hospital and may continue after you’ve been discharged. During this time, it is important to look out for any possible side effects or complications that may occur. Be vigilant and if there are any problems, get in touch with your nurse or surgeon as soon as possible.

What is a post operative care plan?

Before your surgery begins, it is advisable to ask your nurse what your postoperative care will involve. This includes how long you may be staying in hospital, and when you go home, what kind of care you will need; this gives you time to prepare beforehand.

Some questions you may want to ask your nurse include:

Depending on the type of surgery you have, there are many potential complications that can happen. Some surgeries are at risk of infection, bleeding and blood clots, so postoperative care is vitally important. The period of time you spend inactive can also cause you to lose some of your muscle strength and develop respiratory complications.

Post operative care per cosmetic procedure

Read on to find out more about the post operative care you must follow for the following common cosmetic surgery procedures: 

  1. Breast enlargement
  2. Breast Reduction
  3. Abdominoplasty (Tummy tuck)
  4. Liposuction
  5. Rhinoplasty (Nose surgery)
  6. Otoplasty (Ear surgery)
  7. Rhytidectomy (Facelift)
  8. Blepharoplasty (Eyelid surgery)
  9. Labiaplasty
  10. Sclerotherapy (Varicose veins)


  1. Breast enlargement

Photo credit: Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock

This procedure entails a patient inserting implants into their breasts to increase the size, change their shape or to make them more even. The operation includes making an incision next to or under the breast, positioning the implant and stitching up the incision.

Post-op guidelines


  1. Breast Reduction

Photo credit: CHEN I CHUN / Shutterstock

This procedure entails a patient to make their breasts smaller, less heavy and more lifted. This may be their natural breasts or even the removal of previous breast implants. The operation includes removing excess fat, tissue and skin, and reshaping the remaining breast tissue before moving your nipple to its new position. 

Post-op guidelines


  1. Abdominoplasty (Tummy tuck)

Photo credit: SibFilm / Shutterstock

Abdominoplasty – most commonly referred to as “tummy tuck” – is a cosmetic surgery procedure to improve the shape of the stomach. The aim is to remove excess tummy skin that can't be removed through exercise. Read more about the difference between a full and mini tummy tuck here.

Post-op guidelines


  1. Liposuction

Photo credit: Dmytro Zinkevych / Shutterstock

Liposuction is a cosmetic surgery procedure to remove any unwanted body fat that are hard to lose through exercise and a healthy diet. The operation entails sucking out small areas of fat from areas such as the bum, hips, thighs and stomach in order to alter body shape. The procedure involves breaking up fat cells, making a small incision and inserting a suction tube to loosen fat and suck it out.

Post-op guidelines


  1. Rhinoplasty (Nose surgery)

Photo credit: Gerain0812 / Shutterstock

This procedure is an operation to change the shape or size of the patient's nose. The operation entails either making the nose smaller or larger, changing the nose’s shape or the angle between the nose and the tip. This procedure involves making one cut across the skin between the nostrils, or cuts inside the nostrils.

Post-op guidelines


  1. Otoplasty (Ear surgery)

Photo credit: Africa Studio / Shutterstock

Ear correction surgery, also known as “otoplasty”, is a cosmetic surgery procedure to change the size or shape of the ears or pin the back (also referred to as pinnaplasty). The operation entails making one small cut behind the ear, removing pieces of cartilage, and scoring and stitching the remaining structure of the ear.

Post-op guidelines


  1. Rhytidectomy (Facelift)

Photo credit: Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock

This procedure is cosmetic surgery to lift and pull back the skin to create a tighter and smoother looking face. The idea is designed to reduce the appearance of sagging skin around the lower half of the face and neck. The operation includes a surgeon making incisions into the temples and under the chin, removing skin and pulling skin backwards and upwards.  

Post-op guidelines


  1. Blepharoplasty (Eyelid surgery)

Photo credit: puhhha / Shutterstock

Blepharoplasty, also known as eyelid surgery, is a cosmetic procedure to remove excess skin or fat from the patient’s eyelids. The operation aims to improve hooded or droopy eyelids or eyebags. The procedure entails making a cut along the eyelid crease in the natural skin fold or below the lower lashes, removing the excess skin, fat or muscle, and closing up the incision.

Post-op guidelines


  1. Labiaplasty

Photo credit: logika600 / Shutterstock

Labiaplasty is a cosmetic procedure to reduce the size of the labia minora – the flaps of skin on either side of the vaginal opening. The operation entails shortening or reshaping the vaginal lips, which involves the unwanted tissue being cut away with a scalpel or laser and being stitched up.

Post-op guidelines


  1. Sclerotherapy (Varicose veins)

Photo credit: JPC-PROD / Shutterstock

Sclerotherapy is an often considered a cosmetic procedure to improve the appearance of “spider” or varicose veins. The procedure entails injecting a solution into the vein, which causes blood to re-route through healthier veins. The collapsed vein is re-absorbed into tissue and eventually fades within a few weeks.

Post-op guidelines