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How to Reduce Post Surgery Swelling: The A to Z Guide


how to reduce post surgery swelling_________________________________________________________________________

No one ever teaches you how to reduce post surgery swelling – until you’ve experienced it personally or helped a loved one through post operative recovery. 

But why not? After all, the average person has about 6 surgeries in addition to those experienced by family and friends.

OrthoBracing doesn’t want you to blindly enter the world of postoperative care. That’s why we’ve outlined the ultimate A-to-Z guide on how to reduce post surgery swelling.

Below, you’ll learn the most effective, natural ways to reduce swelling and heal your body so you can get back to living your best life. 

What is Swelling?

Before you start to reduce swelling, it’s important to know what it is and why it happens. 

Swelling is typically the result of inflammation or build-up of fluid in the body. It occurs whenever the organs, skin or other parts of the body enlarge.

In addition to surgical procedures, a range of conditions can cause swelling, such as:

  • Insect bites
  • Illnesses
  • Injuries
  • Rashes
  • Hormonal changes
  • Infection

Regardless of the cause, the natural methods below can be utilized to reduce swelling and find relief, especially in post-surgical conditions. 

Why Reduce Swelling?

You may be wondering why it’s so important to reduce swelling. If swelling is the body’s natural response to injury and the first step towards healing, then why would you want to slow down the process?

According to Lisa Kluchurosky, service line administrator for the Sports Medicine Department at Nationwide Children’s hospital, “Prolonged inflammation and pain can lead to atrophy of the muscles surrounding the joint and a decreased ability to activate the muscles.”

Simply put, if swelling is not treated properly, it can become chronic or long term. Chronic swelling leads to stiff joint tissue and makes you even more susceptible to injury, decreasing your mobility and chance of a full recovery. 

Keep reading to learn about 7 natural ways to minimize your swelling so you and your loved ones can have a smooth healing process. 

How to Reduce Swelling


Prioritizing hydration is always important but especially when your goal is to reduce swelling. After all, your body is already made up of 71% water! Replenishing your body with H2O will only help you heal faster.

Staying hydrated helps your blood transport waste and fluid build-up away from cells while supplying them with the nutrients they need to recover. Drinking plenty of water will allow your injured area to heal properly and help reduce any bruising and swelling after surgery.

Assess the chart below to determine how high your daily water intake should be according to your weight.

daily water intake

Eat Your Colors

Did you know that your diet can greatly impact the amount of swelling you experience after surgery? 

Your physical health is just as important after your operation as it was before the procedure. That’s why healthcare professionals across the globe recommend sticking to anti-inflammatory diets rich in fruits, vegetables, fresh herbs and plant-based fats and proteins while you’re on the road to recovery. 

By “eating the rainbow”, you can help minimize post-op swelling through your diet. 

eat a rainbow

Reduce Sodium

While on the subject of diet, it’s important that we talk about salt. The reduction of sodium intake is one of the most recommended means of reducing inflammation and swelling.

Salt is widely known to encourage your body to retain water and promote the build-up of fluid in the body. During your recovery, minimizing your salt consumption is key to avoiding increased swelling and pain.  


The application of ice to reduce swelling, also known as cryotherapy, has been used to enhance recovery since 400 BC.

As one of the most fool-proof methods of minimizing swelling, investing in a cold therapy machine is one of the smartest things a post-op patient can do to heal. 

Not only are cold therapy machines convenient and compact, but you can continue use after your full recovery to:

  • Speed up metabolism
  • Soothe sore muscles
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Improve focus
  • Improve immune system

At OrthoBracing, one of our favorite units is the Breg Polar Care Wave. This machine combines cold therapy with compression to provide the ultimate tool for instant pain-relief and healing. 


how to reduce post surgery swelling


This specific system is quiet and easy to use, making it the perfect ice machine for both home use and travel. As one of the best medical ice machines the Breg Polar Care Wave is sure to reduce inflammation and swelling.


Compression can play a crucial role in your healing process, especially when it comes to swelling.

To benefit from compression, stockings or wraps are worn to apply gentle pressure to the injured area. Similar to ice, compression has been prescribed to post-op patients since the time of Hippocrates in ancient Greece.

Reduction of swelling isn’t the only benefit of this natural healing method. Compression also provides:

  • Better blood flow
  • Reduction of pain
  • Prevention of varicose veins
  • Lower risk of blood clots

Talk to your doctor about how you can benefit from compression. If your recovery involves compression garments, be sure to wear them as indicated to guarantee a problem-free recovery.


Keeping your affected area elevated can greatly minimize your swelling by reducing build-up of fluid. It also decreases pain and risk associated with bending or twisting your surgical site. 

To properly elevate your area of operation, keep the injured area above chest level. Be sure to keep your wound in a steady and secure position advised by your doctor to avoid further injury or complication.


Believe it or not, movement can help reduce swelling. That’s why physical therapy is almost always prescribed as a means of post-op recovery. 

By engaging in low-impact activities, you will strengthen your muscles and increase blood flow. Enhanced circulation around your injured area will reduce swelling and help speed up your recovery process.

Some examples of low-impact exercise that help reduce swelling are:

  • Swimming
  • Golfing
  • Gardening
  • Peddling on a stationary bike

Before engaging in physical activities listed above, it’s important to consult your doctor and receive approval to avoid any further injury. 

Talk to Your Doctor

Remember, swelling is the body’s natural response to injury; if swelling is still present, so is the injury. Always be sure to consult your doctor before starting a new method to accelerate the healing process. 

If your swelling is chronic, or lasts more than 2-3 weeks, you should consult a healthcare professional. Your doctor will likely recommend exercise or therapy to help resolve the issue.

Embrace Your Healing Journey

The road to recovery isn’t always smooth – that’s why OrthoBracing is ready to help get you back on your feet. 

Visit today to learn more about how to reduce post surgery swelling and natural healing methods!