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How to Reduce Postoperative Bruising and Swelling

Among various post-surgical symptoms and side effects, the bruising and swelling that can occur around the surgical site may be the most immediate. Fortunately, you can manage these symptoms in many ways. Check out our guide to how to reduce postoperative bruising and swelling and find out how to make your recovery process as comfortable as possible.


Bruising and swelling are normal parts of the healing process after any surgery, and recovery varies from person to person.

Depending on the operation and the individual, this process often averages about 12 weeks and is split into two stages:

1 | immediate post-surgery healing

2 | a longer recovery period as you return to normal life.

Most swelling and bruising occur during the initial four weeks after your surgery as your body recovers from the procedure.


With any procedure, it’s important to prepare for your recovery ahead of time. The first thing you should do is read up on the type of surgery you’re having so that you know what to expect. The more information you have about what you’ll be facing, the more confident you’ll be throughout the healing process. Additionally, gathering all the resources and supplies you’ll need ahead of time will save you the hassle of having to make that effort after your surgery. Be sure to purchase items such as comfortable clothes, compression garments, ice packs, and a few prepared meals before your surgery. Depending on the type of surgery, you may want to enlist help from a family member or friend for the first few days of your recovery. You should also make sure your home is ready for you post-surgery. If you’re going to need a cane or other mobility device, arrange your furniture so that you can easily navigate between rooms.


Throughout the entire recovery process, it’s important to pay close attention to any instructions your doctor gives you. Read and refer back to any brochures or pamphlets of information you have been given, and don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions. Everyone has a different recovery process and length, so it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor before resuming certain activities such as exercising or operating machinery.

Attending all follow-up appointments with your doctor after the surgery is also important. Do your best to maintain clear and open communication with your doctor, physical therapist, and any other professionals helping you through recovery. Following doctor’s orders is a vital part of managing your healing process and post-operation symptoms.


Rest is a core part of every recovery process, and it’s one of the best ways to initially reduce swelling and bruising. Pushing yourself too hard too soon after surgery can exhaust your body and cause bruising and swelling to worsen or last longer. As you recover, elevating the areas that were operated on helps prevent excess fluid from collecting and causing increased swelling and discomfort. This can also reduce inflammation and bruising.

Cold therapy is also good for soothing pain and reducing inflammation. Applying ice to the affected areas in the first few days after surgery helps reduce swelling, although you should only do this for shorter periods of time. Be sure to consult your doctor with any questions.


Taking care of your incision in the time following surgery is important. Your doctor will give you instructions on cleaning and redressing the surgical site. Make sure the area stays clean and dry throughout the recovery process. Once your doctor gives you the okay, gently wash the incision with warm water and soap, then carefully pat it dry with a soft, clean towel. As you recover after surgery, be sure to pay close attention to any instructions your doctor gives you so that you can reduce the risk of infection and further swelling.


Your doctor may recommend using a post-surgical compression garment to support your recovery. Research has shown that medical-grade compression garments may help aid the body’s healing process from both invasive and noninvasive procedures by helping to reduce discomfort, swelling, and bruising as the body recovers. Designed for comfort and ease of use immediately following surgery, Marena’s post-surgical garments provide support and comfort through extended wear, even during sleep.


During your recovery, it’s important to fuel your body with nutrient-dense foods and to hydrate with lots of fluids. Maintaining a healthy diet and taking any supplements recommended by your doctor is key to boosting your immune system and improving your recovery process. Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol and do your best to keep any bruised or wounded areas out of the sun to avoid complications.


It’s important not to overexert yourself during your recovery, but light activity and exercise once your doctor approves them can aid the healing process. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy after surgery. A physical therapist will work with you to come up with stretches and exercises that can strengthen your body and promote overall healing throughout the recovery process. That’s why attending all your physical therapy sessions after your surgery is crucial. Be sure to follow any post-operation exercises your doctor or physical therapist prescribes, as these can strengthen your body and promote overall healing throughout the recovery process.


Swelling and bruising are normal parts of post-surgical recovery, but they should be monitored to identify any changes in these symptoms. Increased or new swelling—along with increased tenderness, pain, or drainage—should be reported to your physician. Keep an eye out for these symptoms or any other unusual side effects and contact your doctor if you have any concerns.


Although this guide to how to reduce postoperative bruising and swelling covers the first few weeks of recovery, the next part of the healing process may take a while. At this point, it’s still important to consult with your doctor and follow any of their instructions, such as doing physical therapy exercises or using longer-term compression garments. Doing this can help get rid of the last of the swelling, bruising, and other post-operation symptoms you face.


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