Lifting the face surgically remains one of the most significant and long-lasting anti-aging procedures available today. However, the trade-off is that it does require a longer recovery period than other less invasive treatments. At Real Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery in Moonee Ponds, VIC, Mr Stephen Salerno advises that patients take at least two weeks to recuperate following a facelift.
How Long Does It Take To Recover After a Facelift?
The total recovery time following a facelift can vary depending on a patient’s age, overall health, and how much work was done. Generally, patients can expect to return to their normal daily activities within two weeks but may wait at least one month before engaging in strenuous exercise.
What the Recovery Period May Look Like
If you have a more physical job, you may need to take more time off from work than someone who has a “desk job.” Ultimately it is up to your surgeon to give you the go-ahead to resume normal activities based on how well you are recovering. Doing too much, too soon could potentially cause a setback and be counterproductive to your end goal, which is looking and feeling amazing.
The First Week Post-Op
The first week after surgery is a critical healing period when patients need plenty of rest and relaxation. Ideally, patients should have someone to help them at home during this time. You may be used to waiting on others, but this is a time to focus completely on yourself.
If you don’t have a great deal of help at home, planning ahead can make life much easier as you heal. For example, having some meals pre-prepared and ready to take out of the freezer when you need them is a great idea. Getting all your housework, projects, and errands done before surgery can also help to ease the burden once you get home.
The Second Week Post-Op
By week two, you could be feeling much more like yourself and may be getting your energy back, but it’s still important to not overdo it. Your stitches will be coming out around this time but care must still be taken with your incision sites. If you still feel that you need some pain medication during this second week, that is fine, but many patients switch to an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen.
The Third Week Post-Op
It is usually around this time that patients return to work and begin engaging in some light physical activity such as housework or going for a walk. Patients also look much better by this time, although it is important to note that the final results of facelift are not usually apparent for a few months. Still, patients can go out in public without being worried that they will look as if they just had a procedure done!
You may still have some scarring at this time, but this can easily be covered up by your hair. Within a few weeks, these pink lines will gradually fade to white and eventually be barely noticeable.
One Month Post-Op
It is typically at the one-month mark that patients are considered almost fully healed and well enough to do everything that they did before surgery. Some patients may still have a little tingling or numbness at this time, but rest assured that this could disappear shortly. Most patients report that this is the point where they can really begin to enjoy their refreshed new look and get back to doing all the things they love.
The reason we warn patients to not expect their “final result” until a few months after their procedure is because a facelift needs time to settle. It doesn’t mean that it will take this long to heal, nor does it mean that the patient won’t look great for several months. The reality is that patients could look well enough to confidently go out in public even a week or two after their surgery.
We just want patients to have realistic expectations about the healing process. A facelift does require a longer-term commitment to healing than a non-invasive treatment, but the results are worth it.
What Patients Can Do To Speed the Healing Process
There are ways to ensure that your recovery goes as smoothly and seamlessly as possible. A patient who practices good self-care and who closely follows their surgeon’s instructions could have a much quicker recovery than those who do not. There are some basic things that any patient can do to care for their new facelift so that they can get back to their normal life as soon as possible.
Your incision sites will be very tender for the first few days after you get home, but it is important to keep them as clean and dry as possible. Gently dab around your incisions with a soft cloth that is soaked in saline or in a mild, soapy solution, and change your bandages at least once per day. Don’t use any harsh cleansers or alcohol-based products – the idea is to treat your incision sites as gently as possible.
It’s important to keep your head up for the first week so that any fluids drain properly. Some patients sleep in a recliner during this time, or you can prop yourself up in bed with pillows. If you are sleeping in your bed, makes sure there is a wedge on either side of you so that you don’t roll over onto your face while you are sleeping. Your face must be as undisturbed as possible as it heals.
Nutrition and Hydration
When healing from any surgical procedure, your diet can play a very important part in the healing process. Eating plenty of protein, fruits, and vegetables will help you to feel your best and will speed healing. Drinking at least eight glasses of water throughout the day is also important since even mild dehydration can impede the healing process.
Rest and Gentle Activity
Rest is of course vitally important, particularly during the first week after surgery, but you also want to make time each day to get up and walk around. Sitting or lying down all day is not good for circulation, and you will want to keep the blood flowing optimally throughout your body. There is no need to overdo it – just walking for a few minutes around the house when you get up to use the washroom is all that is needed.
Avoiding Sun Exposure
Spending too much time in the sun is never a good idea as far as your skin is concerned, but when recovering from facial surgery, it is particularly important to shield your face from harmful UV rays. If you wish to go outside for some fresh air, simply stay in the shade and wear a hat.
Keep in mind that you will not be able to apply sunscreen to your face until your incisions have healed. Once you are further along in the healing process, wearing sunscreen on your face every time you go outside is a good anti-ageing strategy that will help to preserve the results of your facelift as long as possible.
Saying No to Alcohol and Cigarettes
If you were a smoker prior to your surgery, your surgeon hopefully advised you to give up cigarettes at least until you are fully healed. Smoking can impede circulation and cause complications not only during surgery but during the healing process. As for alcohol, this must be avoided as your recover, particularly if you are still taking pain medication. Alcohol can dehydrate the skin and thin the blood, even when consumed in moderate amounts.
Using Caution With Medication
It is vitally important during the first couple of weeks after your surgery to only take medication that has been approved by your doctor. Certain commonly-used over-the-counter medications (for example aspirin) can have blood-thinning properties and are not suitable for use after surgery.
The same is true of anything labelled “herbal” or “all-natural” – these claims do not necessarily mean that the product will be safe for someone who has just had surgery. If in doubt, always ask your doctor first.
Are You Ready To Make a Lasting Improvement to Your Face?
If you have any concerns about what to expect during the recovery process following a facelift or any other cosmetic surgery procedure, we are here to answer your questions. Contact us today at Real Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery in Moonee Ponds, VIC, so that we can schedule an initial consultation with Mr Salerno.