Most patients are primarily concerned about pain and swelling after surgery, what they can eat, and when they can return to normal activities. Recovery can vary based on the following factors:
- Complexity of surgery: The more complex the surgery, the higher the chance of increased discomfort, swelling, and overall recovery.
- Surgical approach and technique: Conservative and minimally surgical approaches can minimize discomfort, possibly avoid swelling, and speed of recovery.
- Length of surgery: Typically, longer surgical procedures require more healing and recovery time.
- Post-operative instructions: You can improve your recovery by closely adhering to both pre-operative and post-operative instructions. Follow them closely and you can recover faster.
- Individual’s physiology and healing potential: This is highly variable between different individuals. Good nutrition and general state of health help to speed up your recovery.
“I was welcomed immediately by the same person who I had been corresponding with prior to my visit, and waited less than five minutes in the waiting area. The procedure (four wisdom teeth extractions, IV sedation) was quite enjoyable, actually, since I was totally asleep and what with the attractive Dr. Kazemi and his adorable, smiling assistants all over the place. Recovery was much quicker than I expected and as close to painless as it could be given the circumstances.”
While recovery is different for everyone, you may expect the following:
The level and duration of pain depend on the complexity of the surgery, the the technique, and patient’s tolerance. Most patients experience three to four days of elevated pain, commonly managed with pain medications such as Vicodin or Percocet. As pain gradually diminishes over the next two to three days, Ibuprofen (Advil) or Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be used. After seven to ten days, most patients no longer have pain and may stop their medications.
Any swelling related to surgery will maximize in 36 to 48 hours following the procedure, and gradually taper over the next five to seven days. Ice helps to reduce swelling in the first 24 hours. If extractions were done in a conservative fashion, you may experience no swelling at all.
Upon arrival home, you may have water, juices, soups, shakes, purees, and very soft foods. A soft diet is recommended five to seven days. No hard, crispy, or spicy foods should be eaten during this period. The general rule is if you have to chew, it’s probably too hard. After seven days, patients may gradually return to normal food.
Get plenty of rest on the day of surgery. Some patients may feel well enough the following day to walk and go out. That’s all right, but take it easy. Avoid strenuous activities for the first two to three days. Refrain from sports, lifting, or doing anything that requires exertion. After three days, if the patient feels more comfortable, he or she can walk, go for a gentle swim, or do very low-impact exercise. Mild activities may cause some pain but not enough to disturb the surgery site or open the sutures.
Most patients return to work, school, or some normal activities one to two days after surgery. Most schedule their surgery on a Friday and are ready to return to wok or class by Monday. There is no problem with traveling or flying the following day, although it’s best to rest for a day or two. Of course, there are always variations in overall response and recovery.