What to Expect When Recovering From a Face-Lift

You’ve scheduled a face-lift with a top, board-certified plastic surgeon who creates natural, flattering results by lifting the underlying muscular layer as well as skin. You’ve followed all pre-op instructions, such as quitting smoking and eliminating blood-thinning medications and herbs from your diet.

While preparing for the surgery itself is an important step, so is preparing for your recovery. A face-lift, otherwise known as a rhytidectomy, is major surgery that requires a patient, gentle healing period. Dr. Theodore Diktaban, an expert plastic surgeon on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, always takes time to instruct patients on what to expect after procedures and when you’ll be ready to share your fresh, new look with the world.

Day of surgery — Find a retreat and a ride home

After your face-lift, you’ll be groggy from the general anesthesia. Dr. Diktaban may also wrap your face in a compression bandage to control swelling and may place surgical drains, too, to drain away fluids.

He may recommend an overnight stay at the hospital or at a recovery center so that a medical professional can change your bandages for you. Staying at the hospital or recovery center ensures that a nurse will check on your progress during the first 24 hours and that you have no distractions from your initial recovery.

Before your surgery, arrange for someone to take you home after your procedure or recovery time. Even if you plan to call a taxi or a ride-share, be sure to have a friend, family member, or helper who can help you get in and out of the car and see you to your apartment.

Week 1 — you need, and deserve, many helping hands

Your main objective in the first week is simply to take it easy so that your body can start the healing process. You should walk around indoors every hour or so to keep your circulation healthy. You can take over-the-counter pain medicines to control discomfort.

You won’t be able to return to work for at least two weeks. You also need someone to prepare and clean up after your meals, tidy your house, and be 100% responsible for any children, pets, or other household chores during the first seven days.

To avoid swelling and bruising, you need to keep your head upright. That means no bending down — not even to tie a shoelace.

Don’t take a shower for at least a few days. When you change your bandages, you may gently rinse your face with water and follow Dr. Diktaban’s instructions about caring for your incisions. Be careful not to scratch them, even if they itch.

Sleep on your back with your head elevated. Dr. Diktaban’s staff can recommend a special pillow for you, if you wish.

Looking and feeling puffy and bruised during the first week is normal. So are sensations such as itching, tingling, and even a slight burning. Contact Dr. Diktaban if you have intense pain, bleeding, or unusual color changes.

Within a few days to a week, Dr. Diktaban removes any drains, non-dissolvable stitches, or bandages.

Weeks 2-3 — feeling better, but looking a little … off

By the second week, you may feel more energetic, but don’t return to your normal activities quite yet. You may be able to add in a little light housework, but it’s not time to go back to your job, or the gym. You’re still healing and should refrain from bending over.

Many women and men choose to stay home during the second week and sometimes the third week, too. Your face will still be swollen and your incisions may be too visible for your comfort. Continue to walk to aid the healing process and promote healthy circulation.

Weeks 3-4 — ease on down your road

By the third week, your swelling should have subsided enough that you feel comfortable going out in public. Your scars may be bright pink or red and still highly visible. You can wear your hair down to cover them or ask Dr. Diktaban’s staff for camouflage tips.

Your face and neck may feel tight. Dr. Diktaban can give you gentle stretching exercises to help you feel more comfortable.

Some women and men opt to return to work during this stage. But avoid strenuous activity at the gym, such as weightlifting and high-impact aerobics, or — at most — gradually add them in after the third week.

Week 5 and beyond — back to your future

Once you’ve healed for about a month, you’re ready to return to your normal routine. But your face continues to heal for up to a year.  Some women and men opt for a new haircut or makeover to explain their improved appearance.

Over the next months, you notice that your face and neck feel less tight, and your skin begins to look healthy and glowing. This “wow” effect may be enhanced if you’ve had fat grafts, laser therapy, or any other procedure that stimulates collagen remodeling in your skin.

You may also notice that your scars fade from bright pink or red to a pale pink or white. After the one-year mark, if you’re bothered by your scars Dr. Diktaban can treat them.

Once your face-lift heals, you’ll look about 10 years younger than you did before your surgery. But most of your friends and co-workers will only notice that you look healthier, happier, and more energized than you did the previous year. You can expect raves about how well you look, but few people will know why.

To schedule a face-lift consultation, call us today or use the online form.

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