Recover Like a Man: A Cosmetic Surgery Recovery Guide for Men


Most cosmetic surgery patients want to know what to expect with recovery, but for men, this is usually a top concern after getting great results. Having an accurate idea of recovery time can help ensure you can take the needed downtime so you heal optimally. This male-specific recovery timeline will help you pull off your new or improved look like an ace.

Plan for three days to two-plus weeks off work

You’ll need a couple of days after surgery to lay low and let the effects of anesthesia wear off after any surgical procedure. Expect to veg out 90% of the time and walk around a little in between to keep your circulation healthy and prevent blood clots. If you’re having a less extensive body contouring procedure, such liposuction or male chest reduction, heavy-duty downtime will only last three to five days, after which you should be fine to go back to an office job. More extensive procedures (i.e., abdominoplasty or body lift) require two or three weeks off work.

Facelift surgery is a slightly different animal—you’ll be safe to return to desk work and other light activity after just a few days, but you may want to work from home for a couple of weeks to avoid nosy questions about visible bruising or swelling.

When you’ll be ready to do the fun stuff

Every patient has their own unique concerns when it comes to recovery, but there are a few most men have in common. Read on to get an idea of when you resume normal activities.

When can I shower and shave after surgery?

In most cases it’s fine to shower (but not bathe) 3 days after surgery. Just be gentle with incision sites and pat them dry when you’re done.

Beard shaving is an obvious concern after male facelift surgery. You don’t want to risk harming incision sites, and post-op numbness can make it tricky to avoid nicks with the razor. Typically, we advise men to use an electric razor, beginning at least one week after surgery.

What about shaving after male chest reduction? Your chest will be sore, and you’ll need to avoid straining pectoral muscles for a few days, but shaving is usually a light enough activity to do it without issue in just a couple of days (do ask your surgeon for specifics).

When can I get back to the gym, ride my fixie to the bar, chop wood, etc.?

Jokes aside, it’s important to keep you heart rate and blood pressure moderated for several weeks to avoid bleeding around incision sites, as well as modify muscle movements to protect healing results.

If you’re having male chest reduction, even low-key activities, such as golf or fly fishing, may be off-limits for several weeks because they require big shoulder and chest movements. Most water sports are a no-go for four to six weeks after any surgery—submerging your incisions can increase risk of infection, even in treated pools.

In general, endurance sports such as running, cycling, and strength training that don’t involve muscles near the surgery site are okay to resume gradually within two to three weeks after liposuction, male chest reduction, or facial surgery, and within 6 weeks after more extensive procedures.

When can I have sex?

A common side effect of cosmetic surgery for men is a huge boost in self-confidence—and most patients can’t wait to get back to the bedroom. However, sex elevates your heart rate and blood pressure, and physical contact can be a hazard for fresh incisions on the face or body. Most of our male patients are cleared to have intercourse after three weeks, but you may be able to do other things earlier than that, depending on your procedure and personal healing rate.

When can I show off my results in public?

As long as your “showing off” moves aren’t too strenuous for your current stage of recovery, you can go out in public as soon as you feel comfortable doing so. To keep your surgery under wraps, however, it’s best to keep the area out of sight until post-op bruising and swelling have gone away—about two weeks after a facelift, for instance. Scars can appear bright pink for several months, but they are usually easy to conceal with camouflage products if desired.

Also, it’s important to understand that while your results will look great within two to four months after surgery, they won’t be final for up to one year. Fortunately, the most dramatic changes occur in the first few months and are subtle thereafter. In other words, you’ll look better shirtless within three months after liposuction.

These are general guidelines. Always follow your cosmetic surgeon’s instructions first.

We know, you’re a busy guy, but it’s crucial to wait for the official go-ahead from your cosmetic surgeon before resuming any activity, even if you feel like you’re ready. Doing too much too soon can compromise your safety and your results, so it’s worth a little extra time if needed to protect your “investment” and your health.

If you can’t manage to take time off right now, you have options. Non-surgical treatments such as BOTOX® and fillers can refresh a haggard look for months, and Kybella® can transform your jawline from sloppy to suave in just a few treatments, with a day or less of downtime.

Questions? Contact Seattle cosmetic surgeon Dr. Alex Sobel

There’s no substitute for a frank, man-to-man discussion with an experienced cosmetic surgeon. If you’re considering your options to improve your appearance and you live in the Seattle area, Dr. Alex Sobel is board certified in cosmetic surgery and has considerable experience helping male patients achieve subtle, natural-looking improvements through surgical and non-surgical treatments. Call 425-453-4060 or contact us online today to schedule a private consultation.

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