Face Lifts (Rhytidectomy Surgery)
Face Lift Recovery
Pain Level: Moderate discomfort. 1-3 days of pain medication
Swelling and bruising: 2 weeks or more
Numbness: lasts several weeks
Bandages: Changed in 1-2 days (drains and sutures removed first 2-5 days)
Work: Return after 1-3 weeks
Exercise: Wait 2-3 weeks
Sun protection: Six months with SPF 15 or higher
Final result: Seen 1-4 months following most face lifts
When surgery is completed, you will be taken into a recovery area where you will be closely monitored. A bandage may have been wrapped around your face to minimize swelling. You may be permitted to go home after a few hours, although some patients may stay overnight.
Your face and eyelids will be swollen and bruised after surgery. This will be most pronounced the first few days and lasts anywhere from one to six weeks after surgery. Most bruising will disappear within two weeks. It may take months to fully heal. The speed of recovery depends upon the type of skin, age and healing ability of the patient. Most patients can resume everyday activities about two weeks after surgery.
Your face may feel numb for a few weeks or even months. This is normal and usually subsides. Scars take longer to fade, but because they are hidden in hairlines, behind the ears and in natural folds, they shouldn't be very noticeable (assuming there are no complications).
Your appearance improve dramatically each day following your surgery. Typically, you will need assistance for the first couple of days, but then you can care for yourself. You probably won't feel comfortable allowing others to see you for at least a week, and you may not want to return to work for another 1 to 2 weeks after that. You may want to allow 4 to 8 weeks before attending any major social engagements.
You can shower by the second or third day, but be careful to tug on the drainage tubes or to rub the incisions. All lifting, straining, bending and any vigorous activity is to be avoided until all bruises have faded and such activities do not cause any discomfort. To minimize bleeding and swelling, refrain from vigorous exercise for first 2 to 3 weeks. Pain can usually be controlled with pain medication.
To prevent complications it is important to:
[ ] Keep your head elevated as much as possible to reduce swelling
[ ] Apply ice packs to minimize swelling
[ ] Do not take aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications (your doctor can provide you with a list of OTC medications to avoid)
[ ] Do not smoke or be exposed to secondary smoke during recovery
[ ] Avoid exposure to direct sunlight
[ ] Use a sunblock (minimum 15 SPF) to protect your skin
Expect that your facelift will turn back the clock approximately 7-10 years. You will continue to age on your new face. The results of your facelift may be dramatic or subtle, depending on how you looked before surgery. Since the healing process is gradual, you should expect to wait at least several weeks to fully realize your results. Additional minor changes, or settling, may occur over several months.