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Recovery after Facelift – Post-op Timeline & Best Tips

Top Tips and Timeline for Recovery after Facelift Surgery

Facelift surgery is one of the most life-changing and complex Plastic Surgery procedures. Nothing has shown better results in improving the jowl and neck more than a full facelift and neck lift. Successful facelift surgery is a partnership between you and your surgeon. In order to take advantage of all the positive changes associated with the facelift, you must pay close attention to following your instructions during the recovery process.

Preparing for Face Lift Surgery

  • Stop Smoking – this is the most important thing you can do to get a better result. Smoking inhibits blood flow and healing making it much more likely that you’ll be left with a poor result or visible facelift scarring from infection or necrosis.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol: Alcohol can make your blood thinner, which means your risk of bleeding during surgery is increased. Drinking can inhibit your body’s healing processes,
  • Stop taking Blood-thinning medications including blood thinners (Coumadin, Plavix, others), aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • Avoid certain supplements like any Diet Pills or herb blends designed to control appetite, Vitamin E, Chromium, Ginseng, Ginkgo biloba, Fish oil etc
  • Prepare your home environment for recovery: You’ll feel sleepy and tired during the first few days after facelift surgery, so we advise preparing your recovery space before you undergo your procedure. Prepare a comfortable resting area, collect your favorite entertainment, and make a few meals ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about cooking or getting delivery.
  • Plan for someone to drive you to and from the surgical center.

Immediately Following Facelift Surgery:

  • An adult should stay with you for at least the first 24 hours after surgery.  Rest is absolutely necessary.
  • Bring a top that is easy for you to put on. A zip-up hoodie is recommended, as it is easy to put on and comfortable to wear. The treatment area will be sensitive and you want to avoid having to pull anything over your head.
  • Expect the procedure to last several hours. Dr. Turner will give you an estimated time on how long your surgery will take so that your ride home can prepare accordingly.
  • Sedatives and/or anaesthetics will be administered and your Anaesthesiologist  ​will be present in the room throughout your surgery. Your vitals will be monitored to ensure your comfort and safety.
  • You will be wrapped in dressings that will not be removed until your 24 hour follow up appointment.

Face Smile Eyes

Recovery after Face Lift Surgery

Recovery time varies from patient to patient as recovery depends on 

  • their health condition
  • their body’s natural healing abilities
  • the extent of surgery

Post-operative instructions:

  • Have someone drive you home after surgery and stay with you at home for 1-2 days.
  • Get plenty of rest and follow a balanced diet.
  • Decreased activity may promote constipation, so you may want to add more raw fruit to your diet, and be sure to increase fluid intake.
  • Do not take aspirin or any products containing aspirin until approved by Dr. Turner.
  • No alcohol for several weeks as it causes fluid retention.
  • If you are taking vitamins with iron, resume these as tolerated.
  • Do not smoke, as smoking delays healing and increases the risk of complications.
  • Wear your compression garment 24/7 for 2 weeks. After the second week, we recommend you continue to wear the garment while at home for an additional 2 weeks. You may take it off when you go out.

Best Recovery Tips  After Facelift: 

1. Watch your Activity Level – Go Easy!

  • Start walking as soon as possible, it helps reducing swelling and lowers the chance of blood clots.
  • You may tire easily. Plan on taking it easy for the first week.
  • Do not drive for 2 weeks post-operatively.
  • No strenuous activities, including sex and heavy housework, for at least 6 weeks. (Walking and mild stretching are fine.)
  • Return to work in 4 weeks.

2. Rest & Monitor Swelling and Bruising

  • Keep Ice on Your Face and Neck:  Crush up ice and place it in zip-lock bags.  Place a thin towel around the ice bag and place this over the surgical sites.  Do this as much as possible for the first 3 days after surgery.  After 72 hours, either ice or heat is permitted.
  • Avoid Bending Over or Lifting heavy things for one week. Besides aggravating swelling, this may raise the blood pressure and start hemorrhage.
  • Avoid Hitting or Bumping your Face Head and Neck. It is wise not to pick up small children or pets and you should sleep alone for one week after your operation.
  • Sleep with the Head of the Bed Elevated for 1-2 weeks after your operation. To accomplish this, place two or three pillows under the head of the mattress and one or two on top of it. Try not to roll on your face; this tends to tear down the supporting stitches used under the skin of your face; therefore, it is necessary to sleep on your back for 2 weeks. Some patients find a reclining chair placed at a 45-degree angle to be more comfortable.
  • Support the Swollen Tissues with an elastic wrap applied according to the directions we will give you.
  • Avoid Excessive Sun on your face for one month; ordinary exposure is not harmful.
  • If you had a Laser Resurfacing or peel at the same time, it is important to place a thin coat of Vaseline over the treated skin for the first 5-6 days.

3. Manage Pain & Discomfort

For mild pain, one or two tablets of Acetaminophen may be taken every three to four hours. Ibuprofen is generally not recommended for the first several days after surgery. This is because ibuprofen can cause increased bleeding and/or bruising.

Expectation during recovery period:

  • Maximum discomfort should occur in the first few days, improving each day thereafter.
  • Bruising, swelling, numbness, and tightness, and tenderness of skin for 10-14 days or longer.
  • You will be sent home wearing a compression garment. This provides compression and support.
  • You may experience tightness in the neck and difficulty turning side to side for 1-2 months.
  • The skin may feel dry and rough for several months.
  • The face can look and feel strange and be distorted from the swelling.
  • Men have a need to shave behind their ears, where beard-growing skin is repositioned.

How you’ll Look during the recovery time:

  • Pale, bruised, and puffy face for several weeks.
  • Wearing scarves, turtlenecks and high-collared blouses masks the swelling and discoloration.
  • By the third week, you will look and feel much better.
  • Final result is not fully realized for approximately 6 months.

Follow-up advice and tips:

  • Your 1st postoperative appointment will be within 24 hours after surgery.
  • Sutures are usually removed from in front of the ear in 3-5 days.
  • Remaining sutures and metal clips, if used, are usually removed in 1-2weeks.
  • If a drainage tube was inserted, it will be removed in 1-2 days.

When should I call my Face Surgeon – Dr. Turner?

  • If you have increased swelling or bruising.
  • If swelling and redness persist after a few days.
  • If you have increased redness along the incision.
  • If you have severe or increased pain not relieved by medication.
  • If you have any side effects to medications; such as, rash, nausea, headache, vomiting.
  • If you have an oral temperature over 100.4 degrees.
  • If you have any yellowish or greenish drainage from the incisions or notice a foul odor.
  • If you have bleeding from the incisions that is difficult to control with
  • light pressure.
  • If you have a loss of feeling or motion.

Frequently Asked Questions About Recovery After Facelift

Can I sleep on my side after the facelift?

  • It is crucial that patients attend all of their facelift follow-up appointments. During these visits, Dr. Turner will evaluate your healing progress and make ongoing recommendations regarding your recovery, including clearing you to sleep in your preferred position. This timeline can vary from person to person, but most patients are able to return to side-sleeping about 2 – 4 weeks after facelift surgery.

Can you talk after a facelift?

  • Facial movements (smiling, talking, chewing, yawning, etc.) should be kept to a minimum for the first week.

How bad does a facelift hurt?

  • You will feel some pain for 2 to 4 days after surgery. You may have some trouble opening your mouth for several days. The skin around the incision probably will be numb. You may have some itching or shooting pain as the feeling returns.

How can I speed up my facelift recovery?

  • Here are some general tips to promote healing after a facelift:
    • Keep your head elevated, even when sleeping.
    • Take multivitamins.
    • Stay hydrated and eat enough protein.
    • Use all ointments we suggest.
    • Keep the incisions clean and dry.
    • Protect the incisions/scars from direct sunlight.

How do you take care of your face after a facelift?

  • Be gentle as you wash your face, and use a mild antibacterial cleanser to avoid bacteria buildup. Pat your face dry, then mix equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water and apply with a Q-tip. Dr. Turner may have also provided you with an antibiotic ointment to use. Afterward, moisturize to reduce scarring.

How do you wash your hair after a facelift?

  • You may shower and wash your hair with a mild shampoo 48 hours after surgery. Your hair may be dried with a blow dryer on a cool setting since you may not have full sensation in the operative areas. Gently wash your face and neck at this time.

How long do facelift scars take to heal?

  • In general, it usually takes about six months for incisions to fully heal and begin to fade from pink to more of a white hue, but it may take between 1 – 2 years for the scars to fully fade. For most patients, there will not be much of a change in the appearance of facelift scars after two years.

How long does the face stay swollen after a facelift?

  • Your face likely will be bruised and swollen for1 to 2 weeks. The swelling may get worse before it gets better, but it will probably go away in 1 to 2 weeks. After a few days, you may get some bruises on your neck and chest.

How Long Until I Experience My Final Results after a Facelift?

  • There will be some residual swelling for several months after a facelift, and you will need to be patient during this time. Often, it can take three to four months to experience your final results. Many facelift patients find that it takes around 10 years before they experience a significant return in their signs of aging. Keep in mind that this timeframe may vary based on:
    • Genetics
    • Age
    • How extensive your signs of aging were before your facelift
    • The technique used for your procedure
    • Your lifestyle (excessive sun exposure, smoking, or alcohol consumption may cause you to age at a faster rate)

How long does the pain last after a facelift?

  • You will feel some pain for 2 to 4 days after surgery. You may have some trouble opening your mouth for several days. The skin around the incision probably will be numb. You may have some itching or shooting pain as the feeling returns.

How long should you wear a compression bandage after a facelift?

  • Wear your compression garment 24/7 for 2 weeks. After the second week, we recommend you continue to wear the garment while at home for an additional 2 weeks. You may take it off when you go out.

How long wear the chin strap after a facelift?

  • You must wear the chin strap continuously for the first two weeks after surgery except while eating and showering/cleaning incisions. The strap helps fight the forces of gravity immediately after surgery and helps improve any swelling.

How long will my face be numb after a facelift?

  • It’s not uncommon to have numbness after facelift surgery. This may take months to resolve and is part of facial rejuvenation healing. Please follow up with Dr. Turner regularly. It can take up to 6 months for the residual numbness to be resolved, even longer in some cases.

What is the best age to have a facelift?

  • In most cases, a facelift works best for people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s when signs of aging begin to become prevalent. Deep lines, wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin are the result of the aging process and can be best corrected through surgical techniques rather than non-surgical ones.

What should I eat after facelift surgery?

  • A diet rich in fiber, healthy fats, protein, and vitamins and minerals will help improve faster healing. The fiber helps to avoid constipation.  Fiber-containing diets are whole grains, raspberries and apples, broccoli and spinach, and beans. Protein, found in eggs, fish, and chicken will help repair tissue, muscles, and the skin. Vitamin K improves blood clotting and can be found in liver, fish, and leafy green vegetables. Vitamin D for bone and marrow health and vitamins A and C are also ideal for fast healing. All these can be found in reds, leafy greens, oranges, yellow squashes, and purple berries. Including vegetable soups with whole-grain noodles and beans can be helpful the first day or so after facial plastic surgery, especially for an upset tummy and a low appetite.
  • Avoiding highly processed foods, high-fat fried foods, sugary treats, drinks, as well as a diet high in salt is key to a faster and smoother recovery time. Fluids are still crucial, so drink up, eat well, and sleep often to get the best possible results from surgery.

When can I sleep on my side after a facelift?

  • You should rest with your head elevated in a recliner or with at least 2 pillows for at least the first week after surgery. Try not to sleep on the side of your face but rather sleep with the back of your head on the pillow for about two weeks.

When can you wash your hair after a facelift?

  • You may shower and wash your hair with a mild shampoo 48 hours after surgery. Your hair may be dried with a blow dryer on a cool setting since you may not have full sensation in the operative areas. Gently wash your face and neck at this time.

When will I look normal after a facelift?

  • At the 6 week mark, most facelift patients can see the real results of their surgery.

DOWNLOAD Dr Turner’s Patient Post Op Instructions for Facelift

Medical References – Further Reading on Recovery after Facelift:

 

For more information visit Dr Turner’s Facelift Surgery Page and the Before and After Facelift patient images

 

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