So you had a surgical cosmetic procedure done a few days ago and are pleased with the results. In fact, swelling has mostly subsided, redness is almost gone, incisions appear to be healing nicely and you feel great. Your first post-op appointment is coming up soon but you might be wondering why you should go when your recovery has been so easy and problem-free? Despite the great recovery process you're having, it is still very important for you to keep and show up for your post-op appointment, because there may be unseen subtle signs of complications.

Post-Op Appointments are Essential to Your Health

Appointments following cosmetic surgery are missed for a wide variety of reasons. Some say they forgot about the appointment or didn't think it was necessary. Others will reschedule the appointment but then fail to show up for the rescheduled appointment. In fact, follow up, no-show appointment ratings range between five to 55 percent. In many no-show cases, complications develop that could have been prevented if the patient had simply kept their appointment. To reduce the percentage of patients missing their first post-op appointment, doctors are experimenting with several preventives such as reminding patients through texts and emails, double-booking to correspond with a practice's no-show rate and ensuring wait times are as short as possible.  

Keeping Post-op Appointments Increases Long Term Success of Cosmetic Procedures

Immediately after a cosmetic surgery procedure, most patients are instructed to follow recovery guidelines involving rest, diet, exercise and monitoring of incision or injection sites. Patients enjoying an easy recovery often become lax in sticking to these guidelines. They may stop performing doctor-recommended exercises, forget to take vitamin supplements and neglect caring for incisions. Potential consequences of not following recovery instructions and missing post-op appointments could include development of a serious infection requiring antibiotic treatment, weight gain that hinders a full recovery, hematomas and painful swellings caused by blood pooling under the skin's surface (seroma).  

Tracking Changes in Blood Chemistry

Minor cosmetic treatments will not need post-op blood tests. However, breast augmentation, face lifts, liposuction, and other surgical procedures may require blood tests to ensure blood chemistry is normal. Two to three weeks before cosmetic surgery, your doctor will order lab tests for evaluating your red and white blood cell count, platelet count and if you have an unknown disease that could prevent you from having surgery (blood clotting disorders, for example). If preoperative blood tests are normal, chances are you won't have your blood tested during your first post-op appointment as long as your recovery is coming along as expected. In some cases, your doctor may want blood tests if an infection or other complication is suspected following your first post-op examination.  

Post-op Appointments Will Save Patients Time and Money

Unless you are a licensed cosmetic surgeon with years of experience, you may miss subtle signs of complications following cosmetic surgery. Even a slight redness, swelling or discoloration around or on the incision or site of the procedure could indicate the early onset of infection or other condition requiring treatment. Missing a post-op appointment could cost you more time and money if a complication is not detected and addressed immediately by your cosmetic surgeon. In other words, instead of keeping one or two follow-up appointments, you may need to make multiple visits to your doctor to correct a complication or other condition arising during your recovery.  

A Time to Ask Your Doctor Questions

Your first post-op appointment is also a great time to ask your doctor about what to expect during the remainder of your recovery and if there are other procedures available that might complement your recent cosmetic procedure. Dr. Lawler is always happy to answer all patient questions and takes the time to ensure patients are satisfied with their office experience. If an emergency or other pressing matter arises unexpectedly that interferes with keeping a post-op appointment with Dr. Lawler, call our office and we will reschedule your appointment at your convenience. In addition, always contact our office as soon as possible if signs of infection or other post-op issues develop before the day of your first-op appointment.