Early morning cosmetic surgery
It’s 7 a.m. and I am waiting for my cosmetic plastic surgery patient to arrive at the surgery center for a gynecomastia surgery and a tummy tuck procedure. a cosmetic surgery scheduled weeks ago. He may still be sleeping, but hopefully he is just late because of traffic.
I have written about pre-operative preparation for cosmetic plastic surgery in the past;
Why surgery starts early
There are several reasons why surgery of all types, including cosmetic surgery, traditionally starts early in the morning. These include medical reasons and non-medical ones.
Medical reasons for early morning cosmetic surgery
1. Hormonal cycle
Perhaps the most important medical reason for starting surgery early in the morning is the body’s normal cycle of contra-stress hormones.
Cortisol is the major anti-stress hormone in our bodies. It has a “diurnal” rhythm of its levels. It is at its lowest level at around midnight and rises sharply to its maximum between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. It falls during the afternoon.
High cortisol levels protect the body against stress, psychological or physical. In the early morning, the associated high cortisol levels provide a little extra protection against surgery stress. Other hormones also play a similar role in stress reduction, but cortisol is the most important.
2. Blood sugar levels
Before any surgery requiring general anesthesia, cosmetic plastic surgery patients are required to fast for eight hours. This is important in preventing having any food in the stomach and decreases the risk of aspiration of stomach contents into the lungs—a condition that can be fatal!
The fast makes sure that your blood sugar levels are low in the morning. If surgery takes place later in the day, it’s like not eating breakfast. The low and decreasing blood sugar levels cause fainting, weakness and headaches, in addition to adding extra physical stress to the body.
Having an early surgery means there is less chance for your body to become dehydrated. Not drinking water is part of the fasting process. Dehydration has obvious physical consequences and sets off its own series of stress responses that are not good for cosmetic surgery patients.
1. Cosmetic plastic surgeons
Starting early in the day with cosmetic surgery allows the cosmetic plastic surgeon to have some time to see post-operative and pre-operative patients in the afternoon. Some plastic surgeons will operate all day long on certain days, but in general I like to break my days up and not operate for more than five hours a day.
Also, surgery is unpredictable in terms of timing. Though most plastic surgeons know how long their surgery takes, unforeseen circumstances like extra bleeding can occur and cause delays. This can have a domino effect and cause a string of delays extending into the evening.
2. Hospital staff
The workday at hospitals also starts early for nurses and staff. Hospitals are busy places, and the full day is needed to get all the work done; much medical care continues straight into the night! However, as in any workplace, hospitals are not fully staffed at night. The minimum number of staff required to take care of emergencies is usually what’s available. Most of the staff is at home, sleeping like normal humans! At 7:30 a.m., most hospital staff and nurses are at work.
3. Surgery complications
As with any other form of surgery, sometimes a complication arises after cosmetic plastic surgery. The complication of the surgery may require the patient to be taken back to the operating room. Starting early in the morning means there is more time to deal with this possibility with the full complement of hospital nursing and support staff. It’s safer!
These are some of the reasons why cosmetic plastic surgery is started early in the morning. It’s better for the cosmetic patient, better for the plastic surgeon and better for all the nurses and hospital staff.