Deciding to have a facelift is just the first step toward a more youthful-looking appearance. Understanding what to expect in the days, weeks and months after your surgery, and following any instructions from your facial plastic surgeon, will help you enjoy the results from the procedure for years to come. Your body will need time to heal after a facelift and one of most important things to remember is that while you can’t rush the recovery process, you can make yourself a bit more comfortable.
Swelling is to be expected after any type of plastic surgery, including facelifts. In many cases, swelling gets worse over the course of the first few days and then begins to subside. In some patients, it persists for several months after the surgery, but is usually not dramatic enough for most people to notice.
There are a number of things you can do to bring down swelling in the first few days. Applying cold compresses to the area can help. You can use a washcloth soaked in cold water and wrung out, a special ice pack, or a bag of frozen corn or peas wrapped in a towel.
Keeping your head elevated will also help reduce swelling during your recovery period. If you don’t have one, it might make sense to invest in a recliner before your surgery, so that you have a comfortable spot to sit in while recuperating. You may also need to invest in more pillows for your bed, so that your head is kept at an angle of at least 25 degrees while resting.
You might have some discomfort as you heal. Usually, your surgeon will prescribe you pain relievers to help you cope with any pain or discomfort. Take the medication as prescribed.
Certain supplements, such as arnica and bromelain, might be helpful if taken to reduce bruising and swelling. Talk to your surgeon if you are thinking about taking any supplements to make sure they won’t interact with the pain relievers you’re taking.
Eating and Drinking
After your surgery, you might be somewhat limited when it comes to eating. If your jaw is very sore, you’ll want to avoid foods that require a lot of chewing. Usually, it’s a good idea to stick with liquids during the first few hours after your procedure. During the first few days, you can try to eat soft foods, such as yogurt. As any discomfort begins to subside, you can try eating more solid foods.
Try to stick with healthy foods during your recovery, and after it, too. The better your diet, the better your results. Your body needs plenty of vitamins and minerals, not only for the sake of your appearance, but for its overall function and ability to heal itself. Avoiding salty foods can also help minimize swelling.
Talk to your surgeon about drinking alcohol after your facelift. He will most likely advise waiting for some time before enjoying a beer or cocktail. Alcohol can increase your risk for bleeding after surgery and it is likely to interact with any medications you’re taking.
Getting a good night’s sleep might be a bit challenging after your facelift, especially if you are usually a stomach or side sleeper. Sleeping on your back is the way to go for a few reasons. For one thing, sleeping on your back allows you to keep your head elevated, as you can slide several pillows under your head and neck. Sleeping on your back also keeps you from rubbing or putting pressure on your healing incisions.
To keep yourself from rolling over onto your stomach or side, you might need to put pillows on either side of your body. Another option is to skip sleeping in your bed for the time being and move to a recliner, instead. You won’t have room to roll around on the recliner. You can also position the chair to keep your head propped up at 45 degrees or so.
After a facelift, you won’t be completely bedridden, but you will have to limit certain activities. Your surgeon will most likely advise you to avoid any really strenuous activity, such as working out, for at least two weeks afterwards. But, you may be advised to take up light activity, such as going for short walks, pretty much right away. Taking walks has a number of benefits for you during recovery. Maintaining some level of physical activity helps your blood flow better, which can ease the healing process. Walking about will also help during recovery.
How long you’ll have to stay home to recuperate depends on the type of facelift you’ve had. If you’ve had a mini or short scar facelift, you may only need to take a few days off from work. Typically, patients needs up to two weeks off from work after undergoing a full facelift.
Dr. Jeffrey Epstein, a double board certified plastic surgeon who specializes in facial aesthetic procedures, is available to address any concerns you might have about a facelift and to answer any questions you have about the recovery process. Dr. Epstein works with patients in both New York City and Miami, Florida. Call (305) 666-5884 to schedule an appointment in Miami or (212) 759-3484 to schedule a consultation in NYC.