Recovering After Facelift Surgery: Top Tips for Healing Beautifully

Published: February 8, 2021
Category: Facelift, Dr. Robert Wilke

Aging is inevitable. Looking your age is where we can exert some control on the hands of time. Regardless, at some point in our lives, we will all experience the skin on our faces begin to sag. Bone loss, muscle laxity, collagen and elastin depletion, and the diminishment of facial fat pads all contribute to this surrender to gravity. The focus of Facelift surgery is to remove this excess, sagging skin, tighten muscles, and lift the face’s tissues to restore a dramatically more youthful appearance. Like so many surgeries, what you do after you leave the operating room plays a crucial role in your results. Here are some of the top tips to ensure that you heal beautifully from Facelift surgery.

Facelift Surgery

“Facelift surgery is immensely rewarding to perform because it can skyrocket a patient’s confidence in their appearance,” says Dr. Robert Wilke, a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon with Edina Plastic Surgery. “It’s like turning back the clock ten years, and so many patients comment on how they finally look as young as they feel again! I want anyone who is considering Facelift surgery to realize how important your recovery is to your outcome.”

#1 – Prepare your home for when you come home from surgery.

Do you have extra pillows to prop yourself up in bed? Is your refrigerator filled with fresh groceries and easy to prepare meals? Do you have books loaded on your Kindle or ready to go on Audible? Do your family and friends know what to expect and how to assist you after surgery? These are ALL things that should be sorted out well before your surgery. During recovery, you need to relax and focus on healing – not cooking, cleaning the house, or wrapping up an important project for work.

Prepare Your Home

#2 – Have your support system in place before your surgery.

“When we think of a support system after surgery, most of us envision how our families will chip in with the laundry and cooking and errand running, but it runs much deeper than that,” explains Dr. Wilke. “It is really common for patients to get the post-surgical blues about a week after surgery. When the face looking back at you in the mirror is black and blue, it can be hard to keep your eye on the prize that follows recovery. Having friends and family to lend an ear, a laugh, and provide moral support is important. Don’t underestimate the value of social interaction to your healing process.”

#3 – Eat a healthy diet before and after your surgery.

Recovery is taxing on your system and requires a lot of energy. We want to make sure that this energy comes from nutritious, healthy foods, loads of water, and restorative sleep. Vital nutrients like antioxidants help our body heal by fighting inflammation and enhancing wound healing. Start eating a clean, healthy diet before surgery and continue through your recovery and beyond.

#4 – Be aware of potential side effects before your surgery.

“With every surgery, there is always a risk of potential side effects,” explains Dr. Wilke. “The more informed you are of these and how to identify them should they happen to you, the more empowered you’ll feel. Side effects with Facelift surgery may include hair loss, blood clots in the tissue, prolonged swelling and bruising, and an uneven skin surface from fat removal. These are temporary, but it is imperative to stay in communication with your surgeon should you notice any of these things.”

#5 – Take a long hiatus from smoking, if not a permanent one.

“The nicotine in cigarettes is a chemical that causes blood vessels to constrict, and smoking itself damages vital blood vessels that are necessary for a great recovery,” explains Dr. Wilke. “When a wound is healing, it needs your circulatory system as healthy as it can be with thriving blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to your tissues efficiently. Smoking complicates this and even heightens your risk for other complications like blood clots. You’ll need to quit smoking at least 6-8 weeks before your surgery and abstain 6-8 weeks after as well.”

#6 – Take it easy. Don’t overexert yourself and avoid stress.

Make the Eagle’s song, “Take it Easy,” the soundtrack to your Facelift recovery. Exerting your body after surgery with excessive moving, bending, and picking up heavy things can increase blood pressure to your face. This spike can increase your risk of bleeding and bruising. Give yourself about two weeks after surgery before returning to daily activities and four to six weeks before attempting more strenuous activities.

#7 – Remain upright and be still. 

“You’ll never appreciate how much you turn and move your head and neck on a daily basis until you’re recovering from a Facelift,” says Dr. Wilke. “It’s important to stay still your first two weeks because these actions put extra strain on your new incisions and may affect how your skin scars.  Staying elevated at about a 30-degree angle is also essential during this time, so any fluid buildup from swelling can effectively drain and encourage faster healing.”

#8 – Avoid the sun.

Your skin will be sensitive after your Facelift surgery, especially along your incisions. To avoid darkening of any scarring and sun damage, your surgeon will recommend that you use a physical SPF 30 or higher and wear a hat for several weeks after surgery.

Avoid the Sun

#9 – Be cautious with extreme temperatures.

“You may have some numbness after Facelift surgery, which can make it difficult to determine what is too hot or too cold against your skin,” advises Dr. Wilke. “Be careful not to overdo it on the icing. Fifteen minutes on and fifteen minutes off for the first week is encouraged, or using a washcloth soaked in ice water. I also discourage the use of heating pads on the back of the neck because we have seen patients burn themselves because their skin can’t detect how hot the pad really is.”

#10 – Keep in communication with your surgeon and follow all post-care instructions to a T.

Your post-care instructions are vital to your recovery. Follow them to a T and communicate with your surgeon if you have any questions. From how and when to clean your incisions to what medications to take and how often – all of these details are in place to maximize your recovery and results.

#12 – Practice patience!

“Believe me, even your surgeon wishes that healing from Facelift surgery happened overnight, but you can’t rush recovery,” says Dr. Wilke. “Take it day by day, and soon you’ll see swelling subside, then sensation return, then scarring and bruising fade, until you wake up one morning and feel like your face finally looks normal again. Rushing to recover and resume your daily life can jeopardize your results. Know going in that fully recovering from a Facelift can take up to a full year. Be patient – the results are worth it!”

Are you considering Facelift surgery? Schedule a complimentary in-person with an Edina Plastic Surgery Plastic Surgeon by calling (612) 688-3177 or CLICKING HERE.

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