Ask the Doctor: New Year 2020

Q. I’m interested in a mommy makeover, but I’m concerned about recovery time. What can I expect?

A. A Mommy Makeover is a combination of surgical procedures, usually involving the breast and tummy areas. This may include a breast lift, implants, or even a breast reduction, in combination with a tummy tuck and liposuction. With the tummy tuck, the abdominal muscles are tightened to put them back in alignment and strengthen the body’s core. While this provides a great change in the contour of the abdomen, it also makes the recovery the most challenging. You are advised against lifting anything greater than 10 or 15 pounds for about six weeks and performing any sit-ups or core strengthening exercises for three months after the surgery. Most patients take two weeks off work and then return to light duty or a desk job. Occupations involving heavier lifting will require a longer time off. Though it may be challenging in the beginning of the recovery, all of my patients believe it is well worth it!

Cindy McCord, MD Plastic Surgeon Associates in Plastic Surgery
little girl with glasses and braces and headphones around her neck

Q. When is the appropriate time to think about braces?

A. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children receive an orthodontic evaluation by age 7. At this age, orthodontists are able to spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while many of the baby teeth are still present. Very few patients will need to begin treatment that young, but there are individuals who will benefit from early intervention. There are some issues that cannot be addressed once the face and jaws are no longer growing. If your child is not ready for treatment, the orthodontist will usually advise periodic complimentary visits to monitor your child’s jaw growth and tooth development. If comprehensive orthodontic treatment is needed, this will usually commence when most, if not all, of the permanent teeth are present, usually between the ages of 11 and 14.

KC Dyer IV, DDS, MDS Orthodontist Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics of Chattanooga

Q. My mom fractured her hip over the holidays. What can we expect from recovery?

A. Surgery is usually the best treatment for a broken (fractured) hip. This can include a stabilization procedure, a partial replacement, or a total hip replacement, depending on the case.

Pain medication will be used following surgery to control pain and prevent blood clots. It is not unusual to have an upset stomach or feel constipated after surgery.

In general, most people get out of bed with help on the day of the surgery or the next day. Over the next few days, the patient will likely begin light exercises and learn how to walk with a walker or crutches.

Most patients stay in the hospital 2-5 days following surgery, and then move to a rehabilitation center before going home. At the rehabilitation center, patients get help with daily activities, such as bathing. Your mom will probably need a walking aid – a walker, cane, or crutches – for several months. Full recovery may take up to a year.

Amjad Munir, MD Medical Director Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Chattanooga
illustration of woman walking after surgery

Q. Why is it so important to move after surgery? Won’t that be painful?

A. If you have ever had surgery and had to stay in the hospital afterward, you’ve probably noted that the surgeon and staff frequently encourage patients to get up out of bed and walk as soon as they are able. Yes, it may be painful, but there is a rhyme behind our reason. First, moving and ambulation help prevent blood clots like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and a pulmonary embolism (PE) from developing. These are potentially fatal, but early ambulation after surgery can significantly decrease one’s risk. Moreover, early ambulation stimulates the lungs to breathe more deeply and thus helps to prevent infections like pneumonia. Early ambulation helps build muscle tone and strength and can promote faster healing by improving oxygen delivery to the tissues. So, walk early and walk often after surgery!

Will Harris, DO Vascular Surgeon Vascular Institute of Chattanooga

purple gradient spine illustrationQ. Recently, I’ve noticed serious, sometimes shooting pain in my lower back. What should I do?

A. Back pain is fairly common and occurs in about 95% of the population. Generally speaking, the pain is self-limiting and not serious. Red flag symptoms are night pain, fever, chills, night sweats, numbness and tingling in your arms or legs, burning pain in your arms and legs, or more serious numbness and tingling in your groin or in a “saddle distribution” consistent with where your body would contact the saddle if you rode a horse.

With the exclusion of the red flag symptoms, most lower back pain or neck pain will improve with a short period (1 to 2 days) of activity rest and judicial use of over-the-counter remedies, like anti-inflammatory medication or topical gels. A gentle exercise program is also very effective in reducing pain.

If your pain is associated with the red flag symptoms already mentioned, you should be evaluated to ensure nothing more serious is going on. It is important to know your physician and seek care from specialists who are specialty (fellowship) trained in diagnosing and treating spine disorders.

James M. Osborn, MD, MSPH Orthopedic Surgeon Comprehensive Spine Institute

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