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Post-Operative Instructions

You have just finished undergoing a surgical procedure, and now, it is necessary that you take proper care of yourself. There are a few steps that can make your post-operative period easier and safer and reduce the risk of any complications.

You may have dressings in place. These dressings are there to help protect your surgical site and to help with any bleeding or oozing that may still be occurring. It is normal to have some bleeding and oozing from your surgery. You should bite on this gauze, holding pressure for at least 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, the bleeding may still be present. You should then change the gauze and continue to keep pressure on it. The oozing commonly lasts around 24 hours, and this is normal.

You should NOT be spitting, using a straw, or rinsing on the day of your surgery unless your doctor specifically told you to do so. Following these orders will also help to stop the bleeding and oozing and will help to prevent certain complications.

NO SMOKING. Smoking can cause significant painful complications, so please do not smoke. It is advised to refrain from smoking for at least 3 days after any procedure. The longer you wait, the better, and as always, quitting would be the best.

Eating and drinking are OK as soon as you can comfortably do so. You should be sure to stay well-hydrated. Common sense says to eat softer foods for the first few days and stay away from crunchy foods that can irritate the surgical site. In addition, it is advisable to eat when taking pain medications. You want to stay away from temperature extremes. Also, spicy foods and highly acidic foods may be uncomfortable at first.

The pain medication recommended is for your comfort. Take it as directed and only if needed. Any other prescriptions should be taken as directed from the doctor and on the bottle. Always be sure to complete the full course of any prescribed antibiotic. Often, over-the-counter medications are advised, and these should be taken as directed. We usually recommend 600 mg of ibuprofen every 6 hours for adult patients that do not have any contraindications to this medication and to use any prescription pain medications for emergency only.

ICE is the best treatment to prevent swelling. Ice from the freezer, in a plastic bag and wrapped with a towel, is best. A regimen of 20 minutes with the ice against your face, and then 20 minutes without it, should be used as much as possible the day of surgery. You will have swelling, but this will minimize it.

The day after your surgery, rinse with a glass of warm salt water (about 1 tsp of salt in a full glass of water) several times throughout the day. This will help to keep the area clean and prevent infections. Do not vigorously rinse, and do not spit — rather, let the water just fall back into the sink. It is best to do this every few hours, especially after eating and drinking. Continue this 3–4 times a day for the first post-operative week.

Start brushing your teeth again the day after surgery. Be very gentle the first few days and stay clear of surgical sites. Be sure not to rinse or spit too vigorously.