How to Sleep Comfortably After Plastic Surgery



You probably know that getting enough sleep is key to looking and feeling your best each day. Numerous studies have shown that people who prioritize sleep are more likely to have a sharper memory, find it easier to maintain a healthy weight, and even have younger-looking skin compared to those who skimp on sleep.


When you’re recovering after cosmetic surgery, quality sleep is especially important. Sleep facilitates healing and helps your immune system work optimally, which not only helps you bounce back to your normal energy level more quickly, but also helps your results heal optimally—and look beautiful as quickly as possible after surgery.

How you sleep after plastic surgery is as important has how much you sleep

Most procedures call for a modified sleeping position during the initial weeks of recovery to protect healing incisions, minimize swelling, and avoid placing pressure on the surgery site. The good news is that even the most finicky sleeper can get a good night’s rest during their plastic surgery recovery. All it takes is some smart planning.


To help, I’ve shared some basics about how to sleep after a few popular procedures.

How to sleep after breast augmentation

Plan to sleep on your back for about 4 to 6 weeks after breast augmentation to prevent undue strain on your incisions and keep pressure off of tender breast tissues as they heal. Back-sleeping also helps the breast capsule—the normal scar tissue that surrounds your implant after surgery—form into an optimal shape, ensuring your results look their best.


Some patients are permitted to sleep on one side after a few weeks (get your plastic surgeon’s OK), as long as the breasts are properly supported and there is not excessive pressure on either breast. If you are allowed to sleep on your side, invest in good pillows for support, such as a “boyfriend pillow,” which is designed to help keep you in one position as you sleep.

Sleeping position after facial plastic surgery

One question I hear a lot from facelift patients is “how long do I have to elevate my head after facelift surgery?” While sleeping on your back is a must, keeping your head elevated for the first 2 to 4 weeks is equally important. Why? Keeping your head elevated minimizes post-op swelling and discomfort, prevents strain to incision sites, and can even help you feel ready to go out in public a little more quickly.


Many patients find that sleeping in a recliner is the easiest and most comfortable way to maintain the correct sleeping position. If a bed is your only option, you can use pillows: stack 2-3 pillows under your head to keep it propped up, and place 1 or 2 pillows on either side of your head to prevent you from rolling over accidentally in the middle of the night.


You may consider buying a special pillow, such as one with a hollowed-out center that keeps your head still and supported, or even a whole post-op pillow system that can be placed on top of your bed.

Sleeping comfortably after a tummy tuck

After tummy tuck surgery, you will need to keep slight flexion in the waist (bent forward slightly) for a couple of weeks to prevent strain on the long, thin incision between the hipbones. A recliner provides one of the best sleeping positions after tummy tuck surgery, as you can stay slightly bent at the waist while elevating your head and feet. Another good option is to place several pillows underneath your knees and under your head on the bed. Or, if you are willing to spend a bit more for convenience and comfort, get a contoured pillow system.

Practice makes perfect—so get started ahead of time

As you can see, a running theme is that after many cosmetic procedures (buttock contouring being one exception), you’ll have to sleep on your back for a little while. If you normally sleep on your side or belly, this modified position can feel pretty unnatural at first. My advice? Practice sleeping in your modified position for a few weeks before your procedure so you can get used to it by the time you really need to be sleeping that way.

Be sure to ask your plastic surgeon about safe sleep after surgery

Ultimately, the best sleep position after cosmetic surgery is the one your own plastic surgeon recommends. Every patient is different and you might have needs that are unique to your case.


If you are in the Richmond area and want to learn more about plastic surgery recovery, I welcome you to contact me. A key part of my consultation process is discussing what to expect after your procedure, so you can make an informed decision. Call 804-355-3410 to get started.