Plastic Surgery & Intimacy
Posted March 30, 2022
Asking the question is the hard part. There is nothing you should be afraid to discuss with your doctor. Plastic surgery directly affects intimacy on several levels: improved body image, scarring and healing, and downtime. It is important to know your limitations or restrictions during the recovery process and recognize there may be some emotional healing.
It is easy to agree that when a person feels good about themselves physically, psychologically, and emotionally, their personal relationships will also improve positively. A person is more outgoing, friendly, and warmhearted when their body image improves. This may lead to a significant increase in their intimacy level as the person begins to feel comfortable with their body and allows their partner to be close. As self-confidence increases, patients may start to desire and enjoy more physical pleasure. Intimacy, touching, and caressing increase as they feel comfortable and more at ease with themselves physically. As the healing process takes place, a patient may also begin to feel more confident and self-assured, increasing the desire to be intimate.
Human bodies heal with scar tissue. The healing process takes approximately a year, but it is broken into two major components. The first is scarring which is completed during the first 6-8 weeks following surgery. The second is called remodeling and begins just after the scarring process ends. In this component, the scar tissue produced in the first 6-8 weeks is completely changed to soft, flatter, and more flexible. The scars will also fade during this process. The scarring process is characterized by mild swelling and tenderness, tightness, and even some nerve sensations such as itching and electrical twinges. This process may interfere with intimacy due to the patient’s hesitancy to damage or slow the healing process. The symptoms may also interfere physically as the scar tissue may become painful with touching, pressure, or stretching. As patients move further into the remodeling phase, the symptoms significantly improve, and now the patient can see positive improvements in the surgical site. This will lead to constant improvement in self-image and lessen the anxiety present in the early scarring phase.
The downtime for different surgeries may also impact the feeling of intimacy for patients. It can be difficult to feel intimate if you are worried that it may affect your surgical results. Some patients may have persistent swelling, thickening of scars, and delayed healing which can negatively impact their body image, prolonging the sense of wellbeing and intimacy. Sutures may be visible or palpable to the patient during their recovery. Drains and postoperative garments can also be present and hinder the desire for intimacy. There is generally no reason to stop intimate acts of pleasure unless you are in pain or uncomfortable.