written by Christine G. Adamo
Healing from Facelift Surgery
Does your face show signs of aging? Do you wish your skin were tighter and more youthful looking? After all, you feel young – and you want to everyone to know it. A rhytidectomy, or face lift
, may be right for you.
When performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon
, a face lift can tighten up loose or sagging skin and muscles while removing unwanted fat. It can even be accompanied by a brow lift
or eyelid surgery
. The results? A more striking and youthful profile.
You’ve seen the facelift before and after photos
. You understand facelift cost
and have scheduled surgery. Does that mean you’re ready? It could, but the information below is aimed at making sure you’re even better prepared…to heal quickly and successfully!
Think of it as a supplement to – not a substitute for – post-op instructions provided by your plastic surgeon.
Getting Facelift Ready
There’s no way to tell how long your facelift recovery period will be. What we can tell you is that most people benefit from a 2-week break in work and other activities. Ask your doctor for an estimate based on your skin’s elasticity, medical history and lifestyle.
However long the healing process, know that preparation is an important step you should take before surgery. With proper planning, you can both speed recovery time and reduce your discomfort. And we want you to be ultra comfortable during recovery!
Things to plan for and gather up PRIOR to face lift surgery fall into these categories:
- Health Related
- Other Necessities
- Creature Comforts
- Medications suggested by your doctor – Fill prescriptions in advance
- Ice packs – Store bought or homemade (a pack of frozen peas works well)
- A thermometer – Take your temperature if you think you have a fever
- Balms, creams or ointments – Use only those your doctor suggests
- Extra dressings for use at incision points – Gauze, bandages, etc.
- Unscented, hypo-allergenic moist towelettes, washcloths & towels
- A comfortable place to rest – Keep your head elevated per doctor’s orders
- Telephone & charger – Keep important numbers nearby (ex: your doctor’s)
- Lots of pillows & blankets – Stay cozy, comfortable & warm as you heal
- Zippered or button-up clothing – Avoid over-the-head shirts, sweaters & jackets
- Magazines, books, journals & pens – Keep your hands & mind active
- Drinks & snacks – Choose items that are easy to peel, prep or open
- TV & remote with batteries – Set up for “recovery position” viewing
Face Lift Surgery: Your First Few Days
After surgery, your condition will be monitored. Once you’ve recovered from sedation and are stable, you’ll be sent home. You won’t be able to drive, so you’ll have to pre-arrange a ride. Provide your doctor’s office staff with the name and phone number of the person who’s picking you up.
In your first few days following surgery, you’ll experience discomfort but it shouldn’t be extreme. Your surgeon will have prescribed medications to make the pain bearable. Ask your pharmacist to explain all medication instructions and restrictions.
During the early stages of face lift recovery:
- You will experience bruising & swelling
- You should keep your head elevated to prevent swelling
- You may experience numbness for a period of 2-3 weeks
- You should relax, since moving around increases discomfort
You’ll have multiple doctor’s visits due to the following:
- Within a few days, your doctor will want to check your progress
- Bandages may be changed & tubes, if used, will be removed
- Sutures, stitches &/or clips are typically removed in 5-7 days
- Your progress & healing will need to be monitored
Call your doctor immediately if you experience ANY of these signs:
- Sudden &/or intense swelling
- Loose stitches, sutures or clips
- Allergic reactions to prescribed medications
- Discharge at incision sites (milky or pus-colored)
- Persistent, severe pain &/or a fever of 100+ degrees
Face Lift Surgery: As Healing Continues
At 2-3 weeks, most bruising and a good deal of your swelling (or puffiness) will be gone. But, everyone’s different. Be diligent about scheduling and attending follow-up visits. Ask your doctor about your progress and take his or her suggestions seriously.
Things you can do to speed up and encourage healing include:
- Rest – Especially in the first few days
- Be Gentle – Try not to irritate your incisions
- Brush Softly – Gently brush hair & don’t tug at the hairline
- Take it Easy – Avoid lifting, exertion, housework & exercise for 2-3 weeks
- Resist the Urge – Don’t smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol, which slow healing
- Keep Your Cool – Avoid hot showers, steam baths & saunas for a few months
If only some of your sutures, stitches and/or clips were removed initially, your doctor will remove the rest when it’s appropriate to do so. The hairline area often needs the most amount of time to heal. This is normal, so don’t be alarmed.
Follow-up visits will continue so that your plastic surgeon can gauge your progress. You’ll be seen several times in the first few weeks after surgery. You’ll be seen less frequently after that. Expect to see your doctor until he or she is happy with your results.
Face Lift Recovery Final Tips
While we’d love to say you’ll look your best right away, that’s not realistic. Bruising and swelling go with the territory. Going out in public may be a challenge, so plan ahead. Go out only when necessary. For many people, this includes doctor’s visits only.
Prior to surgery, ask your doctor for tips on reducing signs of bruising and swelling. Ask if it’s okay to use “camouflage cosmetics”. Your plastic surgeon’s office may even sell them. Often, you can buy them at drug or department stores. Alternately, ask your doctor to look through your existing cosmetics and select appropriate options.
Lastly, remember that any initial changes to your appearance are temporary. The results of face lift surgery, when done right, are long-lasting!