Recovery for children's surgery

Dr. Ed Buchanan, a pediatric plastic surgeon, details what parents can expect after a child has surgery
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Recovery for children's surgery

So any child who has surgery, the recovery time is dependent on what kind of surgery they have. If they have a simple skin operation, for instance if they have a knee visexcised, or some mole excised, the recovery time is maybe about a week. I would say the family should stay out of school for about a week and the child should expect a little bit of pain for maybe one day. The best pain medication for something like this is over-the-counter Tylenol or Motrin. Sometimes a doctor may give you something a little bit stronger, but normally that’s not needed past the first 24 hours. Now if they have a bigger surgery, for instance if they have a craniosynostosis surgery or a cleft palate surgery, because it’s more surgery the swelling is more and the pain tends to be more and the recovery tends to be longer. So that’s a good way for families to look at it. If you have a big surgery, the recovery is going to be longer because the swelling’s going to be longer and the pain medication requirement will be higher. If it’s a small surgery, then less of that.

Dr. Ed Buchanan, a pediatric plastic surgeon, details what parents can expect after a child has surgery


Expert Bio

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Edward Buchanan

Pediatric Plastic Surgeon & Author

Dr. Edward P. Buchanan is an Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Division of Plastic Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.  He is the Chief of Cleft and Craniofacial Surgery at Texas Children’s Hospital. Before coming to Houston, he trained in Plastic Surgery at Stanford University and did further training in Pediatric Plastic Surgery and Craniofacial Surgery at Seattle Children’s Hospital in Seattle, Washington.  Although he performs all kinds of Plastic and Pediatric Plastic Surgery, his main focus of practice is Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery as well as Craniofacial Surgery.When he is not in Houston, Dr. Buchanan enjoys traveling to countries across the globe to teach and learn from other surgeons.  His most recent trip was to Lilongwe, Malawi, where he was a member of the Texas Children’s Hospital Global Surgical Initiative to help perform and teach Cleft and Pediatric Plastic Surgery.He recently wrote a children’s book entitled, “The Adventures of the Prickly Pear and the Happy Hoglet: Beginning the Journey of the Mental Ninja.” The book is intended to help children begin to develop a healthy self-image so that they can begin their Journey to becoming Mental Ninja’s (  The story was inspired by the children and family’s Dr. Buchanan has cared for over the years. 

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