If you are having trouble sleeping after plastic surgery, know that this is a common complaint and you are not alone. Still, it is critical to get adequate sleep for healthy immunity and healing after your cosmetic enhancement! At our San Diego plastic surgery practice, Dr. Katerina Gallus and our expert aesthetic team are here to help you every step of the way. In today’s blog, we’re explaining what you need to know if you are having trouble falling asleep after surgery.
But first, let’s discuss the possible causes to help you understand the different factors that could be contributing to your insomnia.
Why is it hard to sleep after plastic surgery?
There are a number of factors that conspire to make it difficult to get a good night’s rest after surgery. Most surgeons agree that some or all of these factors may be to blame:
- Anesthesia and narcotic pain medication: General anesthesia and narcotic pain medications may be to blame for early post-surgical insomnia, especially during the initial recovery period.
- Discomfort: While we will manage your pain with medications after surgery, some discomfort is to be expected after certain procedures. This may make it difficult to find a position where you both feel comfortable and can easily fall asleep.
- Stress: While you may not necessarily feel “stressed out,” undergoing a serious surgical procedure can elevate stress hormone levels in your body. As you return to your normal routine after surgery, playing catch-up at work or at home may also exacerbate stress.
- Your body’s unique response to pain medication: Prescription pain medication is routinely prescribed for a limited period after cosmetic surgery. But for certain patients, pain medication has the unexpected effect of keeping them awake.
While recovery from surgery in a busy hospital setting may also contribute to poor sleep post-surgery, most elective plastic surgery procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, meaning that patients go home the day of surgery to recover.
How do I overcome insomnia after cosmetic surgery?
The first step is to contact your plastic surgeon. As your provider, they are in the best position to give you personalized advice based on the details of your procedure and medical history. Sometimes, it’s as simple as adding an over-the-counter sleep aid to your care plan, or resuming any sleep medications you stopped before surgery.
Note the importance of following your plastic surgery recovery instructions to the letter! Sleep position, frequent small walks around the house, a healthy diet, and other post-op instructions are critical for your overall health during the healing process.
Consider your sleep hygiene
While your doctor will give you personalized advice, it is always a good idea to practice good sleep hygiene to support your body as you get back to normal. Consider using some of these tricks to help you relax and ease into bedtime:
- Stick to a normal bedtime and sleeping pattern, and avoid napping too much during the day.
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening (some may find it necessary to avoid intake altogether).
- End your screen use at least 2 hours before bedtime.
- Shower or soak in a warm tub to relax your body. (If your post-op instructions prevent you from immersing your body in water, try a relaxing foot soak.)
- Make a cup of warm tea.
- Cover windows and remove any other unnecessary sources of light in your bedroom, such as electronics.
Can certain sleep positions help with post-surgical insomnia? Should I invest in post-surgery pillows?
All plastic surgery patients should learn about (and in many cases, practice!) their ideal post-surgical sleeping position. This varies by procedure: a facelift patient must sleep on their back with their head slightly elevated, for example, while a tummy tuck patient will need to sleep with their knees comfortably elevated to allow a bend at the waist. Specialized pillows are available to support almost any sleeping position, but regular pillows can also work.
To prevent sleep disturbances due to discomfort, work on your setup before surgery. Talk to your plastic surgeon about the pillows and positions you’re using to get an expert’s advice, customized for your plastic surgery or surgeries.
Schedule your San Diego plastic surgery consultation with Dr. Katerina Gallus
A female plastic surgeon San Diego, Dr. Katerina Gallus is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and is renowned for both her skill and understanding style of care. At Restore SD Plastic Surgery in the La Jolla neighborhood, Dr. Gallus offers a full range of cosmetic procedures for the breast, body, and face, including tummy tuck, breast augmentation, and mommy makeover. We also offer non-surgical skin treatments and cosmetic injectables (i.e. Botox®) to maintain your glow! Call 858-224-2281 or contact us online today to schedule your personal consultation with Dr. Gallus.