Facelift surgery is the gold standard to address signs of facial aging. Surgery is performed under general anesthetic and patients generally stay overnight in the post-operative recovery suite for assistance with immediate post-operative care. This ensures that pain is well controlled by time of discharge and that patients are mobilizing well. Small drains which reduce fluid underneath the skin flaps are also removed prior to discharge home. You will also be instructed regarding showering and appropriate wound care following surgery. Facelift aftercare is important upon discharge home to lower risk of complications, specifically infection, swelling, bleeding, and delayed wound healing. Further facelift aftercare recommendations are as follows:
Facelift aftercare to lower risk of infection
Smoking cessation is one of the most important requirements to lower risk of post-operative infection and other healing complications. It is critical to avoid smoking for a minimum of one month pre- and post-operatively. Dr. Power will not perform facelift surgery on patients who are currently smoking given increased risk of complications. Additional recommendations to lower risk of infection include a short course of antibiotics post-operatively, particularly when drains are in place. Showering daily is also important to lower risk of infection. Gently washing your incisions with soap and running water is effective in reducing the bacterial load at the surgical site. Polysporin is not recommended since many patients may develop contact dermatitis following prolonged use, which may resemble a wound infection. A light application of Vaseline is recommended twice daily until the sutures are removed. Stitches in front of the ear are generally removed 6-7 days post-operatively. The stitches behind the ear are removed approximately 10 days following facelift surgery.
Facelift aftercare to reduce swelling
Swelling peaks by approximately 48 hours post-operatively. Cold compresses are recommended over this time period to reduce swelling. Applying a thin towel in between the cold compresses and your skin is recommended to lower risk of cold injury. Swelling may also be reduced by sleeping in a semi-upright position on 2-3 pillows. It is recommended to avoid bending over for one month following facelift surgery. If necessary, you may gently lower yourself by bending at the knees as opposed to bending over with your head first. Activity modifications are important to follow over the first month following facelift surgery. It is recommended to avoid exercise, strenuous activity, or heavy lifting over 5 lbs during this time period to reduce further swelling.
Ways to reduce risk of bleeding during facelift aftercare
Many recommendations overlap with respect to reducing risk of bleeding and swelling. Cold compresses constrict blood vessels to lower risk of bleeding during early healing. They may be beneficial over 48 hours post-operatively. If you are treated for pre-existing high blood pressure, it is important to take your prescribed blood pressure medication as directed. Increased blood pressure also increases risk of bleeding following facelift surgery, which may lead to a hematoma. This refers to a collection of blood or ongoing bleeding deep to the skin flap. A hematoma may be recognized by increased firmness, bruising, and swelling on one side. If a hematoma develops following a facelift, repeat surgery may be required to eliminate the collection of blood and to stop any ongoing bleeding if identified. In addition to reducing swelling, limiting one’s activity level following facelift surgery also reduces risk of bleeding. It is important to avoid anti-inflammatories during facelift aftercare, for example, Advil, Aleve, and other NSAIDs, until directed by your surgeon. If pain is experienced, take your prescribed pain medication as directed, which lowers your heart rate and also reduces risk of bleeding. If pain is mild, either Tylenol plain or extra-strength may be effective in reducing discomfort while not increasing risk of bleeding.
Facelift aftercare to lower risk of delayed wound healing
Activity modifications are also important to lower risk of delayed wound healing. Any activities or head and neck positions that place additional tension on your incisions should be avoided. It is important to avoid flexing your neck for prolonged periods during facelift recovery. Maintain your neck in neutral or slightly extended position to avoid placing additional pressure on your neck tissues during recovery. Meticulous wound care will also lower risk of wound healing complications, as well as smoking cessation as previously discussed. Certain medical conditions, for example, diabetes mellitus and vascular disease, may increase one’s risk of wound healing complications. As indicated by other medical conditions, Dr. Power may recommend consultation with other specialists pre-operatively to assess whether any conditions require optimization before undergoing elective facelift surgery.
Please contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss whether you are a candidate for facelift surgery.