Everyone is familiar with the signs of aging, especially in the highly-visible face and neck area. As we age and our skin loses plumpness and elasticity, we start to see increasing effects of gravity, including sagging and wrinkles. While short-term fixes like fillers, Botox, and other injectables can help you to minimize these changes for a while, eventually you may have to admit that time is getting the better of you.
When this occurs, you don’t have to throw in the towel and submit to the aging process. If you’re unhappy with your appearance, it may be time to consider the potential benefits of a facelift. For many, this cosmetic surgical procedure can seem daunting, but when you understand what to expect following surgery, you may feel more comfortable moving ahead, especially when you stand to regain your youthful appearance and your confidence.
What can you expect in terms of swelling and recovery following a facelift procedure? Here’s what you should know before you decide if a facelift is right for you.
The First Week After Your Facelift
There’s no way to sugar-coat this – the week after surgery can feel a little unnerving. A face lift is a surgical procedure designed to tighten the skin of the face, removing excess tissues and tightening facial muscles. It’s normal - and expected - to experience some discomfort or pain, which is why you’ll receive detailed instructions and a prescription for pain medication following your procedure.
Significant swelling and bruising are typical during the first few days after surgery, which is why you’ll be instructed to apply ice intermittently for the first three days, to reduce swelling. After this, you’ll want to apply warm compresses to swollen areas to promote healing by bringing new red blood cells to the area while dead blood cells are carried away.
You can typically expect the worst of the swelling and bruising around day 3-4, after which you will start to see incremental improvements over the course of several weeks. In addition to cooling and warming the area with compresses, you may be instructed to take a nutraceutical called Arnica (before, during, and after your procedure) to minimize swelling and bruising, as well as promote speedy recovery.
You will be scheduled for a follow-up appointment a couple of days after surgery to make sure everything looks good and you’re on track for recovery. Your dressings will be removed so the doctor can examine you, after which new dressings will be applied. It’s important to leave your dressing in place to help minimize swelling and prevent issues like infection. During this visit, you can discuss any questions or concerns you may have and bring up any symptoms you may be experiencing.
How Long Can Facelift Swelling Last
Most patients don’t need pain medication after the first week, but you should know that it’s normal to experience some discomfort, including itching, tingling, and tightness as the area starts to heal and swelling persists. Most patients can return to normal (although not strenuous) activities by week two, but you should expect swelling and bruising to continue improving over the course of several weeks.
Sutures may be removed anywhere from 1-3 weeks after your surgery, depending on how healing progresses. You can reasonably expect to see swelling and bruising fade away 3-4 weeks after your surgery, at which time you’ll start to observe the anticipated results of your facelift.
It’s important to understand that every patient heals at their own rate. Even after 30 days, it’s normal to experience some residual effects of your surgical procedure, including minor swelling, tightness, hard spots, and so on. This could last up to about six months in some cases, so don’t be alarmed if symptoms continue. You can always speak with your doctor about your concerns at follow-up appointments to learn more about the healing process.
If you’re interested in learning more about facelift surgery, contact the talented team at The Advanced Center of Plastic Surgery today at 410-308-4700 or online to schedule a consultation.