With facelift, your new look unfolds in three phases: It begins with the image you visualize, becomes reality in surgery, and is finally unveiled in recovery. That final phase is an afterthought for many patients, but it is a key to your ultimate satisfaction.
Here, experienced Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Charles S. Lee, MD reviews ways to ensure optimal healing, including effective management of the swelling that is an expected part of facelift recovery.
When you awaken from general anesthesia, you will feel tightness and tenderness near your incisions. The area will be covered with a dressing that will also hold in place tubes to drain excess blood and reduce swelling.
Swelling builds during the first three to four days after surgery. It is accompanied by bruising and some pain, which can be managed with medication prescribed by Dr. Lee. Swelling and bruising won’t entirely disappear for one to four months.
During this phase you may feel some minor numbness and tightness of the skin, but these side effects will not last long. Pain should never be severe; in fact, you will probably only need pain medication for a few days. The development of anything more than moderate pain is a sign of a possible complication.
Your body will heal at its own pace; it’s important not to rush your recovery. Plan to stay home for one to two weeks. You should be able to resume most normal activities in a month, although your face will continue to heal for up to a year. You will notice an immediate change from your facelift, but the final result won’t fully emerge for many months.
As soon as possible, you should begin walking around to boost circulation, support optimal healing and prevent blood clots. Straining, lifting and bending should be avoided, however. By the second day, you will be able to wash your hair, and you can use makeup again in about two weeks. Not surprisingly, you will need to sleep on your back with your head elevated during this delicate period.
Eat healthfully, drinking plenty of water and avoiding high-sodium foods that can aggravate swelling. If your procedure included incisions in the mouth, you will need to follow a special diet. As a general rule, you should avoid alcohol, niacin, ibuprofen, vitamin E, fish oil, and aspirin products. Get plenty of rest and follow the postoperative routine recommended by Dr. Lee. You will return to our office the day after your surgery, and again within the week for removal of sutures.
Smoking may seem like the type of behavior that, although damaging to your long-term health, wouldn’t have much of an effect on healing after facelift. In reality, smoking interferes with your body’s ability to supply ample oxygen to the cells, and oxygen is vital to the healing process. It is important not to smoke during recovery, and also before surgery.
Finally, it is important that you minimize exposure to the sun’s powerful ultraviolet rays. It’s good advice on any day, but especially during the time your skin is working hard to close an incision.
To learn more about facelift recovery, schedule a personal consultation with Charles S. Lee, MD by contacting the Beverly Hills office of Enhance® Medical Center today.