The holy grail of all anti-aging facial procedures, a facelift promises transformative results. As such, opting for the surgical procedure is nothing to take lightly. Because proper recovery is just as crucial as the operation itself, we tapped top plastic surgeons to offer up their best recovery tips for a smooth and speedy transition.
Follow your doctor’s orders
“Good after-surgery care starts with following the doctor’s orders,” says Wayne, NJ facial plastic surgeon Jeffrey B. Wise, MD. The after-care instructions your doctor provides you with will be tailored to you and your surgery experience, so be sure to follow them closely, advises Dr. Wise.
Apply ice and elevate your head
According to Dr. Wise, “Icing and elevation are both paramount while recovering.” Both of these actions will help keep your swelling down while also reducing discomfort. Stanford, CA facial plastic surgeon Sam P. Most, MD advises keeping your head elevated throughout the first week at a 30 to 45 degree angle. He added that when it comes to icing, you should follow your surgeon’s instructions.
Don’t drink a lot of water before bed
To help limit the swelling, New York facial plastic surgeon Konstantin Vasyukevich, MD, says you should limit the amount of water you drink two hours before going to bed.
Return to your routine after a few days
According to Dr. Vasyukevich, facelift patients should rest for the first two or three days following surgery before gradually returning to normal daily activities. Resuming your daily routine will make you heal faster and make you feel as though you’re back to normal much quicker, says the surgeon.
Avoid taking hot showers
While it might be tempting to take a relaxing hot shower, Dr. Most advises against this for post-facelift patients because it can increase swelling.
Don’t overexert yourself
Dr. Most advises against bending over or lifting more than 10 pounds for at least two weeks. He says patients should also minimize turning their necks for two weeks, which means no driving.
Stay positive and patient
Although it can be challenging during a long recovery, experts encourage patients to remain positive. “Maintaining a positive outlook during the healing will go a long way to making the process feel much easier,” says Dr. Vasyukevich. According to Dr. Most, the worst of the swelling occurs about three to four days after surgery, so be patient as you heal.
“Nicotine can delay your overall healing process, cause tissue death and dry out your skin, making it age more rapidly,” warns Dr. Wise. Due to this and other health risks, he advised quitting smoking. Otherwise, you run the risk of undoing the results of the surgery.
Avoid the sun
Try your best to stay out of the sun following your facelift. “Sun exposure is one of the leading causes of wrinkles and lines, pigmentation concerns, skin cancer, and other conditions—and even more so when your skin is healing from surgery,” warns Dr. Wise. If you’re going to be spending time in the sun post-procedure, Dr. Wise said you should wear mineral sunscreen containing an SPF of 30 or more.
Take care of your skin
Your best chance at maintaining the results of your facelift is to take great care of your skin. “Patients often choose to continue their regular cosmetic routines or add new procedures after surgery to prolong results and enhance their look,” says Dr. Wise.
He noted that bi-annual chemical peels, injectable dermal fillers, wrinkle relaxers and laser treatments are some of the common and effective ways patients keep their skin at its best. “Our team especially loves amping up skin’s collagen and elastin production with Morpheus8 and Ultherapy treatments,” adds Dr. Wise.
With Google in the palm of our hands, it can be hard not to look up every ache, bruise or bump that we notice, but Dr. Vasyukevich says patients need to avoid doing this. “Browsing the internet for complications of a facelift can cause a great deal of anxiety and distress,” he adds. If you do have a concern, call your doctor.
Clean your incision lines
Dr. Most says that you should “clean your incision lines with half-strength peroxide and water or saline.” Then you should apply petroleum-based antibiotic ointment to the lines. As always, reach out to your surgeon with any questions or concerns.