One of the things many patients worry about when considering or planning a facelift is the recovery period. A facelift has an extremely visible recovery, especially immediately after the surgery. We asked Dr George Marcells, ENT and Facial Plastic Surgeon from Sydney to talk us through the facelift recovery and what to expect during that time, as well as the things you can do to make the process as smooth as possible.
What is the facelift downtime? How much time do you need off work after a facelift?
Most surgeons will suggest you need at least two weeks off from work, more if you are able to organise it. Dr Marcells explains why. “Patients may experience mild to moderate bruising and swelling, which lasts for approximately one to two weeks, sometimes a little longer. Most patients return to work and social activities after two weeks but any strenuous physical exercise should be avoided for four weeks following a facelift.”
Minimising any physical activity and exertion is essential in order to not put any strain on your stitches and incisions and allow your body time to heal and recover, however light housework or gentle exercises are recommended after a couple of days to get the body moving and your blood circulating which will help with your recovery.
As Dr Marcells suggests, you will have some swelling and bruising after a facelift. “This is not a painful procedure but we do prescribe pain relief should it be needed. We will guide you on medications and remedies to minimise any discomfort and cold compresses will also help control the swelling and bruising.”
Getting your pain management under control is one of the most important parts of any plastic surgery procedure, including the facelift. Follow your surgeon’s instructions when it comes to pain management to the T. Many patients don’t pay enough attention to their surgeon’s instructions when it comes to pain management and they find out the hard way. Managing any pain will allow you to have a much better recovery.
What after care is required after a facelift procedure?
An essential aspect of the facelift aftercare is caring for the incisions. This is extremely important as looking after them properly can minimise scarring and enhance your results. Dr Marcells says they provide precise instructions on how to care for your incisions until the stitches are removed which is approximately 4 – 7 days after the procedure. Dr Marcells also gives a comprehensive list of instructions to help with other aspects of the facelift. Some of these instructions include:
Keeping your head elevated and using extra pillows when resting or sleeping. You are also required to sleep on your back for approximately a week after the procedure.
Avoid straining, bending or lifting anything soon after facelift surgery because it can cause bleeding.
No concealing makeup for at least a week after surgery.
Will your face be wrapped in bandages after a facelift?
We’ve all seen the images of patients wrapped up like mummies after having a facelift, but is this actually the case? The answer is yes, for a certain period you will have your suture lines covered. Dr Marcells says immediately after your wake up from the procedure you will have bandages around your face and covering the incisions. “Initially after surgery our patients are closely supervised and they will spend the first night in a private room at Bondi Junction Private Hospital. The following morning, all bandages are removed and all surgical sites are inspected and cleansed. A lighter bandage is then applied.” This lighter bandage will be on for at least the next couple of days.
How will you feel after your facelift?
You should expect to have some stiffness, tightness or tenderness in your face, ears or neck, especially around the incision sites. You might also have some itchiness around your incision sites and stitches but Dr Marcells says the instructions they give you regarding your incision care should help with this. Your incisions sites will probably appear red and raised in the days and initial weeks following the procedure but these should really start to improve in appearance after a few weeks. Many people find using scar creams and gels can greatly improve and reduce the appearance of your scars.
What else can you do to maximise the results of a facelift?
Dr Marcells says they also recommend non-surgical treatments that complement and help facilitate your recovery, minimise your scars and maximise the facelift results. “For optimal facelift results we suggest our patients having a Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA) peel and multiple Healite II treatments. A TCA peel is a non-surgical treatment that provides skin resurfacing. Once the chemical solution is applied to the skin, it then causes peeling of the damaged outer layers which are replaced by fresh new skin that is unblemished in appearance. Healite II is also a non-surgical treatment that involves light emitting diodes (LED) that stimulate naturally occurring regeneration and helps to repair processes of the skin, which is why it is so helpful before and after a facelift. The Healite II is an excellent way to increase collagen production in the skin, keeping it younger and healthier looking longer and encourage faster and better healing from your facelift.
“Skincare is also an important adjunct to maintenance of a youthful appearance after facelift surgery, and this will be discussed at length following surgery. We may recommend treatments such as dermal fillers or Anti-wrinkle injections to enhance your results once all post-operative swelling has fully subsided. Also, pre – surgery low sodium diet and plenty of exercise.”
What scars will you have from a facelift?
Any good facial plastic or ENT surgeon will take every step necessary to minimise any scarring from a facelift and will place the scars behind your ears or behind your hairline so they are not seen. Dr Marcells says with his preferred Deep Plane Face and Neck Lift technique, “Because there is little trauma and no tension on the skin, there will be no lumpy or red stretched skin scars. Skin tension leads to poor wound healing, giving rise to these scars. Because there is little skin tension, incisions heal more quickly.”
If you’d like to find out more about the facelift procedure or arrange a consultation with Dr George Marcells you can give his clinic a call on 1300 555 095 and their discreet, professional and approachable staff will be only too happy to answer any of your questions.
You might also want to check out Dr Marcells’ website where he has more information on what you might expect from a facelift procedure.