When to Schedule Your Plastic Surgery Procedure


Beth Longware Duff, Medical Editor

Beth Longware Duff is an experienced writer and reporter whose work on a wide variety of topics has been published in numerous newspapers and magazines. Her health and medical writing credits include nationally distributed videos for the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, and she is the recipient of numerous awards including an American Cancer Society Media Award and a New England Press Association Award for Health Reporting. She holds a degree in Communications from Ithaca College.

May 19 2008

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Spring, summer, fall, winter – is there really a "best" time of year to schedule your cosmetic surgery? Yes, say women who've undergone procedures and the surgeons who perform them.

"The patient population is highly variable, but summertime is when people want to look the best they can – bathing suits, lots of time outdoors, late evenings – so you see a fair number of younger patients who are interested in surgery in the early springtime to get ready for summer," says Stephan Baker, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Coral Gables, FL.

Laurence Kirwan, MD, with offices in the United States and England, agrees that certain times of the year are better than others for specific cosmetic surgery procedures. "To look good on the beach, and in revealing summer clothing and sportswear such as tennis gear, body surgery should be planned for the early months of the year. This includes tummy tucks, liposuction and all types of breast surgery," he says in an online posting. "Autumn through winter is the best time for most facial surgery, especially a facelift, eye surgery, nose reshaping, and laser resurfacing of the skin. And school holidays are perfect for nose jobs for teenagers."

Dr. Baker says that sometimes surgery is scheduled around other events in a person's life. "The mom who doesn't have to take her kids to school during vacation will pick that time to do things for herself, like a mommy makeover," he points out, adding that the end-of-year holidays are another hot time for plastic surgery. "People who work will take a couple weeks off and have a little something done – breast or face – that they can recover from relatively quickly before going back to the office."

An unscientific online poll conducted on the popular My Cosmetic Surgery Blog concurs with both Dr. Baker and Dr. Kirwan. Thirty percent of respondents chose winter as the best time for cosmetic surgery. Fall was a distant second, followed by spring and summer.

As one poster on an online plastic surgery message board summed it up, avoid hot weather like the plague. "Trust me, heat matters a lot!" the Florida resident wrote. "Heat makes you swell, and you don't need extra swelling after surgery!"

Whenever you decide to have your cosmetic surgery procedure done, include plenty of post surgical downtime in your timeline. Depending on your procedure, the recovery time could take a day or two, but it may be a few weeks before you can resume an active schedule. If, for example, your breast implant placement is subpectoral (known as unders, partial unders, or partial submuscular) or full submuscular (complete unders), the muscles were separated during surgery and will need a few extra weeks to recover. If you have a sedentary job, you could be back behind your desk in a week; if it's more labor intensive, you may need two or three weeks to recover before heading back. If you have social events or strenuous activities coming up for which you want to be in top form, schedule your surgery accordingly.

If a trip or vacation is in your foreseeable future, you'll want to ask your plastic surgeon how those plans might influence when your procedure is done. Plan on sticking close to home for the first week of recovery in case there are any complications and to attend your postoperative appointment. You'll be tired, sore and still healing for the first month after surgery, so carefully consider whether you'll be physically and emotionally ready for whatever your travel plans entail. And if your vacation scenario includes time in the sun after facial or breast surgery, don't forget the high SPF sun protection!

"You do get some rays that come through the bathing suit that can cause darkening of the scar, so I tell my patients to put a little sunblock on that area," Dr. Baker explains. "In the early stages of recovery, we tell our patients not to go out in the sun because they'll be sweating, and sweat carries bacteria that could cause a potential wound infection. Once two weeks pass, the incisions seal and then the chance of infection is much smaller."

Of course, the very best time to have cosmetic surgery is when you're physically, emotionally and financially ready to handle it – so wait until then!