Reduce Swelling after Surgery

cold pac shoulder

The best way to reduce swelling after surgery is to follow the instructions of your doctor. Swelling and bruising is normally seen following a procedure. Surgeons are aware that excessive swelling leads to post surgery complications such as incision breakdown. This can lead to an infection thus a poor result from the surgery.

In order to heal quickly and properly the doctor will make several suggestions to reduce swelling and bruising. There is no instant cure therefore patients and doctors have to take the recovery process step by step to ensure a faster and complete healing process.

Some methods recommended by surgeons are as follows:

Anti-Inflammatory Fruits and Plants

Bromelain and Quercetin are very useful in decreasing post surgical swelling and bruising. These particular substances are found in pineapple, apples, capers and red onions. These substances can be ingested in your diet or by taking it in supplements. Because of their anti-inflammatory ingredients they should only be taken after surgery not prior. Taking bromelain and quercetin before surgery will like cause excessive bleeding and lead to complications.


low back ice

RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) is another method to use in order to reduce swelling after surgery. Following a procedure the surgeon usually gives the patient a printed hand out on the particular steps  to be utilized.

The most important item to remember with RICE is how the region involved is positioned. Ice reduces swelling after any operation and should only be used if your doctor gives you the thumbs up. Using ice is typically recommended in most cases, but if used incorrectly can result in damage to injured blood vessels. Using ice after surgery or injury should only be applied for 15 minute intervals a few times per day. Longer than fifteen minutes on an open wound can cause frostbite to the area.


leg elevationElevation following surgery prevents the blood from pooling in the extremity and allows it to drain back into the body. If blood pools the area will get more swollen and tender creating increased pain. If blood is prevented from pooling healing is quicker and the area will be less painful. The rule of thumb is that for upper and lower extremity the elevated area must be above the heart.


NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) namely Aspirin and Motrin will work on reducing the swelling following surgery or injury. NSAID’s will increase the signs of bruising but will help you manage the pain from the procedure. Steroid creams and pills as well as injections are effective in stabilizing the cells of blood vessels. The use of any steroid has a limit, because this product has a less favorable effect on the healing process.


massageMassaging the affected area reduces swelling by increasing the blood flow to the region. It is always recommended that a massage given to reduce swelling should be performed by a professional or qualified physical therapist. Rule of thumb is that movements during massage should always be upward. Manual lymphatic drainage massage reduces the swelling from lymphedema. This type of massage is very specialized.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapists are well trained in reducing post surgical swelling. Some of the tools to accomplish this is a low volt electrical stimulator and cold level light laser. Performing active exercises supervised by the therapist will speed up the process of reducing swelling following procedures.

It is extremely important that post operative swelling gets reduced quickly so that the patient can move forward aggressively in his rehabilitation.