Shop Now, Pay in 4 Statement With AfterPay! 💳

Best Sleeping Positions After Surgery

by Tai Brown • Taime out Massage Owner

Although we all have our preferred sleeping position before surgery, each has its benefits and downsides after surgery. In fact, some sleep positions can exacerbate back pain—or even cause it—while others can help prevent sleep-disrupting conditions like snoring and acid reflux.

It's important to know the pros and cons of each sleep position so you can make whatever adjustments may be necessary to get your best night's sleep after surgery.

In this article we’ve…

1. Broken down the pros and cons of back sleeping, side sleeping, and stomach sleeping.

2. Identified which would be best for each procedure.

3. Introduced some Doll sleeping options for when nothing else is cutting it

Back sleeping

We all know that back sleeping, with your arms at your sides is the ideal position. But did you know that it’s because this position keeps your head and spine in a neutral alignment, eliminating the pressure that contributes to aches and pains and allowing back muscles to relax?

The gold standard is back sleep without (or with only minimal) pillows, as this leaves your neck in a neutral position as well.

Best position for: arm lift, thigh lift, tummy tucks, lipo 360 only, facial procedures, arm lipo, breast surgeries

👍🏽Pros of Back Sleeping After Surgery:

• Head, neck, and spine remain in a natural, neutral position for less chance of back pain.

• Alleviates acid reflux by keeping your head above your esophagus to prevent stomach acid from coming up your digestive tract.

• Helps prevent acne by keeping your face off the pillow, free of pressure, and out of contact with bacteria on your pillowcase.

• Keeps pressure off incisional wounds.

👎🏽Cons of Back Sleeping After Surgery:

• May perpetuate snoring and/or sleep apnea because gravity causes the tongue or loose tissue in the throat to collapse.

• Fluid pools in lower back.

• Circulation slows, pressure around vessels increase, and the lower back stiffens.

Side Sleeping

By far the most common sleep position, side sleeping is also one of the best positions for your overall health. It's particularly good for anyone who snores or has chronic lower back pain. It can help reduce acid reflux and prevent back and neck pain by keeping your spine naturally elongated. Side sleeping helps those with sleep apnea and/or persistent snoring by reducing obstruction of the airway.

The ideal side-sleeping position is on the left side, as it improves & encourages back blood flow circulation. It's important to note that sleeping on your side in a fetal position—knees drawn up to your face—doesn't offer the same benefits because it puts your head and spine out of alignment.

Best position for: lipo 360 only, facial procedures, thigh lipo, back lift (switch sides each night)

👍🏽Pros of Side Sleeping

• Eases heartburn and acid reflux.

• Relieves breathing difficulties that lead to snoring.

• Diminishes sleep apnea symptoms.

• Improves blood flow because of reduced pressure on the vena cavae, the arteries moving blood to and from the heart.

👎🏽Cons of Side Sleeping

• Puts pressure on your hips, shoulders, and neck, which in turn puts pressure on your spine.

• The side-lying fetal position can cause back and neck pain.

• Cuts off circulation in the arm resting under the body during side sleep because of capillary collapse from weight on the arm for an extended time.

Stomach Sleeping

While sleeping on your stomach makes it hard for the spine to stay in a neutral position, on the plus side, stomach sleeping is good for people who snore because the tongue doesn't “fall" as it does in back sleeping. It also keeps pressure off any gluteal fat transfers AND flattens swollen stomach tissue with the swiftness. To offset alllll of the structural negatives from stomach sleeping, sleep on top of 1-3 pillows depending on thickness; this supports the pelvic girdle.

Best position for: lipo 360 only, BBL, back lift, lower leg lipo, hip fat transfer

👍🏽Pros of Stomach Sleeping

• Lets you breathe more easily.

• Flattens stomach faster.

• Diminishes sleep apnea symptoms.

• Protects gluteal fat grafting.

👎🏽Cons of Stomach Sleeping

• Aches and pains because stomach sleeping strains the back, neck, and joints due to keeping the head and neck twisted to one side for an extended time.

• May perpetuate the discomfort of acid reflux.

• Feeling hot is a common complaint of stomach sleepers.

• NOT for tummy tuck clients until week 4.

Sleeping hacks for when all else seems to fail, suggestions go out the window, and you wanna cry just to get some rest:

• Get creative with pillows.

• Create a pillow mountain on the couch and sleep over it like a walking dead zombie.

• Anti-gravity chair (cut out two butt holes so you don’t sink into the chair and get stuck).

• Cut a hole in a deep [and cheap] memory foam mattress (you may need more than one).

• Lay on the floor with knees bent and legs on the couch, arms out to the side.

About the author

Tai Brown

International massage therapist who’s career has evolved from sports massage, to oncology massage, to leading the industry in postOperative care and body contouring, specifically pertaining to plastic surgery. Tai is the owner of Taime out Massage Studios and a Tributo partner.