A decade ago, if you wanted to give your face and neck a more youthful appearance, face lift surgery was your only option. It is a procedure to surgically tighten the muscles, lift the tissue, and remove excess skin. While it is still the most effective procedure to reduce sagging and remove deep wrinkles and folds, it also requires two weeks of downtime and is one of the more expensive plastic surgery procedures.
In recent years, the emergence of new technologies known as radio frequency assisted liposuction have given patients new less-invasive alternatives to face lift surgery. FaceTite is a minimally-invasive procedure that can achieve skin tightening previously only seen with surgery. This is great news for patients, because the recovery after FaceTite is much shorter than after a facelift. In addition, radio frequency treatments do not require heavy sedation, which typically reduces cost.
And yet, facelift surgery remains a popular procedure. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS), over 120,000 people had a facelift in 2018.
To give you an idea how to prepare for a facelift recovery, we have put together the following list of tips.
- Follow your doctor’s post-op instructions. Each doctor may have slightly different guidelines and it’s important to follow them carefully. Don’t skip the required post-op visits – you want to make sure your surgeon can check on your healing and remove sutures and bandages as scheduled.
- Keep your head elevated. Swelling is a common occurrence after plastic surgery, but there are measures you can take to keep it to a minimum. Sleeping with your head propped up to at least 30 degrees avoids fluid buildup and swelling. A recliner works extremely well, but you can also use pillows to prop you up. Swelling typically peaks at 2-3 days post-op, so plan on sleeping with your head elevated for at least 3 days, ideally a week.
- Rest. Increased activity increases blood flow. Even acts as simple as turning your head frequently can have negative effects. The same goes for heavy lifting, which should be avoided during the first two weeks. Limiting most activities will help you avoid swelling or even bleeding, which could result in a hematoma. Stick to your surgeon’s recovery schedule. We typically recommend a period of rest of 2 weeks until the swelling has abated and the incisions have healed. Any strenuous exercise should be avoided for up to 4 weeks.
- Avoid alcohol, smoking, and certain medications. Your surgeon likely gave you a pre-op list of medications that should be stopped a few days prior to the procedure. Blood thinners in particular need to be avoided before any kind of surgery. For the sake of your health we hope that you’re not a smoker to begin with, but if you are, it’s a good idea to stop a few weeks before your surgery to make it easier to abstain afterwards. Alcohol dilates blood vessels and increases the chance of bruising and bleeding, so it should also be avoided during recovery. Take only those pain medications approved or subscribed by your plastic surgeon.
- Avoid extreme temperatures and sun exposure. During your recovery, you should be careful with heating pads and applying ice. Both are easy to overdo while the skin of the face is still numb and you can’t feel the heat or cold. In addition, your skin will be more sensitive after facelift surgery, meaning it burns more easily. If you can’t avoid the sun, make sure you apply a sunscreen with a high SPF. This is not limited to the 2 recommended weeks of downtime. It’s important to be watchful of sun exposure for as long as it takes for the scars to be completely healed, up to a year.
- Keep the incision clean. Use a solution of soapy water or saline to gently dab at your wounds. While it’s okay to resume showers on the second day after facelift surgery, you should stick to a mild shampoo and apply conditioner only to the tips of your hair while the wound is still healing. Once your surgeon has removed the sutures, you will likely be instructed to apply tape on a daily basis. Male patients are advised to hold off with shaving for the first week.
- Maintain a healthy diet. A recovery from a surgical procedure is not the time to engage in a diet or fasting. Your body relies on healthy nutrients and will require plenty of protein and vitamin C. Together with plenty of rest, this will ensure that your body is given all the right tools out needs for the healing process.
We hope that we have helped you gain more insight into what it takes to rejuvenate your face with a facelift. The recovery will take care and time, but the results will be truly worth it.
If you think the recovery we’ve outlined here seems a little too disruptive of your lifestyle, let us once again point out that you do have an alternative: FaceTite, a minimally-invasive, non-surgical alternative to surgery. Studies have shown it achieves 35%-45% skin tightening. The recovery is swift (1-2 days) and makes most of the above steps unnecessary. Best of all, it is done without a single stitch or scar!
To compare pricing and payment options, visit our Facelift and FaceTite pages. We offer interest-free financing through different medical financing providers with just a few easy steps to check your credit score and complete your application.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons 2018 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report.