The facelift operation is one of the most dramatic procedures for looking younger. Nothing can improve the jowl and neck more than the facelift. In order to take advantage of all of the positive changes associated with the facelift, the patient must pay close attention to the recovery process.
For the first 24 hours, rest is absolutely necessary. Elevate the head and talk as little as possible. Sleep in a recliner if possible or with your head on several pillows. Do not sleep on the side of your face but rather sleep with the back of your head on the pillow. Some patients prefer an airline type pillow for comfort. Also popular is the common pillow called a “husband”. This is the large pillow that has extensions that go under the arms and supports the patient. Some people use these types of pillows to watch TV in bed, etc.
A dressing may be placed immediately after the facelift. This is to catch any drainage, to provide gentle pressure to diminish swelling, and to allow the skin to re-adhere itself to deeper tissues, thus preventing fluid buildup between the tissues. This dressing should be left undisturbed until the doctor removes it, which is usually on the first post-operative day. Some facelifts can be done without any dressing. A thin elastic compressive dressing (JawBra®) is sometimes also used. This keeps the tissues compressed to increase healing and comfort. Generally it is worn 24 hours a day for about 3 days, then only at night for several additional days. It is not unusual to see a small amount of bleeding from the incisions for the first 24-48 hours. If the bleeding is severe or you are concerned, call your surgeon at 805-648-5121.
You may shower after 48 hours, gently washing the hair with a mild shampoo. Use a good conditioner to rid the hair of tangles. The hair is likely to be more tangled than usual due to bits of blood clinging to the hair. Also, you may see some hair come out during the shower. This is not hair loss, but rather hairs that were cut during the surgery. Brushing and blow-drying the hair is allowed if performed carefully. The blow dryer should be set on low heat. Remember that the scalp and face may be numb in certain areas and in this state could be inadvertently burned. Staples are also frequently used in the hairline behind the ear, so be careful not to catch them when combing. Hair coloring and permanents should be avoided until three weeks from the time the sutures are removed.
Patients that undergo facelift surgery (especially when performed with multiple other procedures) are likely to experience swelling and bruising. Sometimes this swelling can be very significant for several days. Most people need someone to assist them at least the night of their surgery, so it is imperative to line up a caregiver for several days. If a bandage was placed after surgery, this will prevent swelling in some areas, but increase it around the face. Don’t be alarmed when the dressing is removed and the face is swollen, this goes down very quickly.
Some patients bruise immediately and can have noticeable bruising on the neck and around the mouth or eyes. This can begin as purple and will fade to yellow and disappear. The sides of the neck also frequently swell immediately after surgery and may look distorted. This will resolve without problem in several days.
For the first week after facelift surgery, your face and neck will feel very tight and this is normal. It may also be difficult to open your mouth for the first several days. Do not force head-turning or mouth opening or it could tear stitches. Avoid any extreme movements of the face, neck, and mouth.
Numbness is very common with most facelift procedures and should resolve naturally over the upcoming weeks. Permanent numbness is very rare.
Schedule your first postoperative visit for 24 hours, the second visit for 7 days after your operation. Your third visit will be a week after that, when the rest of your stitches will be taken out. Your doctor will then want to see you again two to three weeks later, then as needed. Please bring a scarf or hat to the first post-op visit as you will be having a bad hair day!
This should not be resumed until it is comfortable to move the head about without any restrictions from pain or swelling.
During the first postoperative week, activity should be kept to a minimum—only what is necessary to take care of oneself. There should be no strenuous activity this first week as this may increase facial swelling and compromise the final result. Over the following two weeks exercise may be gradually increased. Walking is a superb way of getting exercise and not jeopardizing the operation. You should absolutely not perform exercises that require severe turning of the head, such as golf, rowing, and aerobics for at least 4 weeks after your surgery. These extreme stretching movements can tear the sutures that are supporting the lift. After 4-6 weeks, the areas are fully healed and all previous activities can be resumed.
Facelift scars generally fully heal in an excellent manner. However, be advised that your scars will go through multiple stages of healing and at times look better or worse. We take extreme care to place the scars in the most hidden areas and spend a lot of time using plastic closure techniques to insure the best scars. Most of the time they heal adequately by themselves but occasionally your doctor will perform minor revisions or use a laser on the scars to improve their appearance.
Give us a call with any questions or concerns at (805) 648-5121.