The Four Stages of Recovery From Facelift Surgery
After surgery, knowing what to do – and when/how to do it – is key to the overall success of your facelift. Your surgeon should explain the various stages of recovery to you in detail ahead of your procedure in order to help you manage your expectations and heal quickly and properly. In the meantime, Dr. Buonassisi’s “facelift timeline” gives you a brief overview of what your recovery could look like, from resting in bed to the final result.
Stage 1 | Days 1 – 7 Post Op: Rest But Not Bed Rest
While it’s important to take it easy during the first seven days of recovery (and to have a caretaker with you for the first 24 hours after your surgery), any extra fatigue/nausea you experience during the week will likely be due to your pain medication rather than the facelift itself. Though your swelling/bruising should peak at three or four days post op, odds are you’ll feel good enough to get up and move around the house as early as one or two days past surgery.
As mentioned, Dr. Buonassisi will prescribe pain medication to help manage whatever discomfort you may feel after your facelift. Taken on schedule and according to instructions, you can effectively control any stiffness/soreness in your neck, ears or face so that you’re able to do some low-key activities, like light housework. Getting your body moving and your circulation going is important, as it will help you to recover more quickly.
Be sure to follow the daily incision-care routine as outlined by Dr. Buonassisi (as well as any other post-op care instructions you were given) to help ensure a speedy and successful recovery from facelift surgery. The sutures/stitches that are holding your incisions in place may be itchy, but taking good care of them will help alleviate the discomfort.
It’s also OK to see more swelling/bruising on one side of your face than the other, as each is a separate surgery site. However, if you notice a severely distorted bulge on either side of your face or neck, call your surgeon immediately to assess the issue. Do the same if you develop a high fever in the days following your recovery.
Find out more details about what to expect days 1 to 7 after your surgery.
Stage 2 | Days 7 – 14 Post Op: Feeling Better and Making Progress
It’s perfectly normal to see a bit of bruising/swelling on one or both sides of your face and neck, around your eyes or even behind your ears into the second week of your recovery. Some patients report strange sensations (i.e., tingling, burning, numbness or tightness) due to the swelling/bruising – this is also normal. Again, you should see the bruising/swelling start to dissipate on or around the fourth day of your recovery from facelift surgery, but the real progress is made in the second and third weeks post op. Although things will start to improve at this stage, you still have a week or two to go before you can expect all the visible bruising/swelling to be gone – and keep in mind that it takes a full year to see final results.
Unlike the sutures/stitches in your hairline, Dr. Buonassisi will use staples to hold together any incisions made in hair-bearing skin, removing these one week after your facelift. You should still be taking it easy at this time and avoiding any heavy/strenuous physical activity – but that doesn’t mean staying in bed all day. Though you may not want to be seen at work, the gym or a public event just yet, you’re encouraged to do light activities like walking in order to keep your energy up. If you’re a bit self-conscious about the bruising/swelling that remains on your face and/or neck, the staff at 8 West can show you how to apply makeup just up to the edge of your incisions.
Find out more details about what to expect days 7 – 14 after surgery.
Stage 3 | Days 15 – 30 Post Op: Getting Back in the Game
In weeks 3 and 4 of your recovery, your incisions will start to improve. They were likely bunchy and puckered while the sutures/staples were still in place, and now they will start to settle down. Although most patients are ready to be seen at work two or three weeks after surgery, you may still have some swelling in isolated areas, or look a little tight. This is normal and will improve with time. The healing process varies dramatically from patient to patient.
You’ll look and feel much better three weeks after your facelift – good enough to get back to many activities, like work and exercise, as long as they aren’t too strenuous or pose a risk of injury. As your incisions continue to heal, they may appear pink or light red – this is temporary, and Dr. Buonassisi can recommend specific treatments that will work best for you. He can also tell you more about sun safety following your facelift, as prolonged exposure can prematurely age your skin. Apply makeup to cover your incisions, or just let your hair fall over them. The approximate life span of a scar is one year, so, while your incisions will improve day by day, it make take months before they have faded as much as you would like them to.
Stage 4 | Day 30 and Beyond Post Op: Approaching the Finish Line
Though “recovery” – i.e., the amount of time it will take for you to get back to a relatively normal routine after your facelift – is about two weeks, the time it takes for all of the residual swelling, bruising and changes in skin sensation to resolve themselves is a full year. Remember, you’ll likely be the only one to notice the most subtle side effects of your facelift; after three weeks or so, it will be hard for anyone else to tell you’ve had work done.
Remember: it’s important to use good sense in every stage of your recovery. If you have any questions around what you can and cannot do after your facelift, please don’t hesitate to call the friendly staff at 8 West and ask.