Patients often ask how to speed up facelift recovery.  It can be a little isolating when staying close to home during early recovery as swelling and bruising resolve.  Patients vary in terms of how open they are with friends and family when undergoing elective surgery.  They express a common interest however in returning to routine day-to-day activities as soon as possible following facelift surgery.

Aside from getting lots of rest and eating well (which apply to recovery following any type of surgery), there are a few recommendations for how to speed up facelift recovery in particular:

– Most importantly, no smoking!

Smoking increases the risk of wound healing complications during most surgeries.  It is particularly dangerous when undergoing facelift surgery since skin flaps are extensively undermined.  This allows the skin to be redraped and exposes the superficial facial muscles, which may then be resuspended.  The skin undermining challenges the blood supply.  Smoking causes vasoconstriction and may lead to skin flap necrosis during facelift surgery.  Large wounds may then result in front of the ear region, leading to slower healing and more prominent scarring.  It is essential to quit smoking at least one month (ideally even longer) before and after facelift surgery.  Smoking increases one’s risk of developing many types of cancers and also advances signs of facial aging.  Since patients undergoing facelift surgery are seeking facial rejuvenation, smoking cessation makes sense for many reasons!

– Sleep with your head elevated on 2-3 pillows

Over the first 4-6 weeks, sleeping on 2-3 pillows will decrease facial swelling as compared to lying flat.  Some patients choose to sleep even more upright in a recliner chair for a few weeks post-operatively.  The degree of head elevation will depend on your personal comfort and preferences.  Avoiding lying flat during early healing will lower facial swelling and is an important way how to speed up facelift recovery.

– Avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting for one month following facelift

Along the same lines, it is important to avoid strenuous activity over the first month following facelift surgery.  Activities which increase your heart rate also increase the risk of bleeding and greater swelling.  Avoiding exercise, strenuous lifting over 5 pounds, and bending over is important over the first month.  You may gently lower yourself by bending at your knees if you need to pick something up.  Following these activity modifications may lower your risk of developing complications and also speed up facelift recovery.

– Cold compresses may reduce swelling over the first 48 hours

Applying cold compresses to your cheeks, forehead, and eye regions over the first 48 hours following facelift surgery may further reduce swelling.  Swelling peaks over this time period, so applying cold compresses as frequently as tolerated during early healing may be beneficial.  It is important to avoid placing cold compresses in direct contact with your skin.  Local freezing will initially be in effect.  Once the local freezing wears off, you will still not have normal sensation of your cheek and neck skin.  It is important to protect your skin with a thin towel over the cold pack to lower the risk of inadvertent frostbite injury.

While it is important to rest and allow yourself appropriate healing time following facelift surgery, following these additional recommendations may further speed up your healing.

Please contact us if you are interested in discussing facelift surgery in more detail!

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