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RICE = Rest Ice Compression Elevation

Over the years, I have posted more than 500 articles about a wide variety of Plastic Surgery Procedures. They are easily accessible and categorized in the side column under the “Search By Category” menu. Each post provides specific information about the procedure; however, this post is dedicated to the recovery process.

Generic Plastic Surgery Recovery

Before getting into the generic recovery rules, I provide the following disclaimer: Every procedure has specific post-operative instructions, and your plastic surgeon will provide you with post-operative instructions paired to the specific methods that they employ during your surgery. We plastic surgeons shape how we do each procedure to each patient based on our experience. I will try to provide some general guidelines. It goes without saying, but I’m going to say it: If you choose an Experienced Board Certified Plastic Surgeon because you trust them and you like the results they achieve, the best course of action is to do things their way.

RICE therapy

Surgery is a form of injury and the common acronym for treating injuries is RICE. RICE stands for:

All of these can help ease discomfort and speed your recovery, when used appropriately.


The R in RICE stands for Rest.

The R in RICE stands for Rest.

Rest: Avoiding vigorous activity, heavy lifting and sudden movement helps prevent increased swelling and further injury. Immediately after surgery, rest prevents elevated blood pressure and post-operative bleeding. In the weeks after surgery, movement is good, but rest allows you to heal with increased comfort and a more predictable outcome.


The I in RICE stands for Ice.

The I in RICE stands for Ice.

Ice: Ice therapy is effective, especially for the first few postoperative days, and it can be continued if it feels good. I recommend using it for 15 minutes and then leaving it off for 45 minutes. Always keep a thin cloth between you and the ice to prevent frostbite. I had a patient fall asleep with ice directly on the skin and it froze causing blisters. He recovered fully, but prevention is the best medicine.


The C in RICE stands for Compression.

The C in RICE stands for Compression.

Compression: Compression garments are very important to control swelling and keep the skin smooth for many procedures. After procedures like Liposuction, the skin loses support as well as stuffing, so the garment is important for keeping the skin flat and smooth. It should be worn 24/7 for the first two weeks.


The E in RICE stands for Elevation.

The E in RICE stands for Elevation.

Elevation: Elevation helps the surgical site drain. During the day this is easy, as our face and body are elevated. At night, laying flat will cause some increased swelling; however, sleep is very important. If you can sleep with the operated body part elevated for a few days, it helps.

Common Sense Recovery Advice

RICE therapy is based upon common sense, and it is a proven treatment. While it provides a grounded framework for comparing treatments, before starting any new therapy, it should be approved by your surgeon. Your surgeon has the most information and the greatest experience with your procedure. It is a good idea to discuss recovery during your initial consultation appointment, because while the surgery may be elective, once the procedure is performed, the recovery becomes mandatory.

If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and want to learn more about a cosmetic plastic surgery procedure, feel free to use the contact form on this page, check out my main website: or call my office directly at (925) 943-6353, to schedule a personalized consultation appointment today.

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