1) What does it feel like when I wake up from surgery?
Most patients report only mild to moderate discomfort associated with some tightness or pulling. This pulling sensation, most noticeable under the chin, subsides after about three weeks. We will make sure you are not nauseated or queasy. Our nurses will be right there with you as you wake up from surgery to give you special attention.
2) What do I look like when I wake up from surgery?
Following the procedure, you will have a soft head wrap around your head and under your chin. This helps minimize swelling. You will also have a tube with a ball on the end of it – called a drain – just behind each ear. We will teach you and your family how to empty these drains overnight. The drains and the head wrap will be removed in the office the following morning. An elastic (ace) bandage will be gently applied to minimize swelling. You may have some bruising, however, this typically is more pronounced 24-48 hours after the procedure.
3) Tell me more about the sutures.
At the first preoperative appointment the next morning following surgery, the drains and head wrap dressing is removed. The sutures near your ears will require some simple care. We will ask you to use a Q-tip to cleanse them with peroxide and apply an antibiotic ointment twice a day to keep the sutures soft. In four to five days, when the time arrives for suture removal, sutures that have been lubricated glide out easily.
4) When can I shower?
Other than the wound care mentioned, it is important to keep the sutures dry. It is very important that you take a shower and wash your hair the morning before coming in for suture removal on postoperative day four or five. Once we remove the sutures, steristrips are applied and you will not be allowed to shower for about five more days. As long as you keep your head dry, you may bathe at any time following the procedure.
5) Will I need any special prescriptions following surgery?
Yes. Postoperative prescriptions are provided well in advance of surgery day so you arrive home completely prepared. Postoperative prescriptions and over-the-counter medications for facelift patients include the following
A) An antibiotic (Keflex/cephalexin) to take after surgery to prevent infection.
B) Pain medication to minimize any discomfort.
C) Ointment to place on the sutures.
D) As previously mentioned, over-the-counter Arnica to minimize bruising.
E) Vitamin C 1000 mg with food daily three times a day for one week following surgery to promote healing.
6) When do I start taking these prescriptions?
Patients take their pain medication as needed. Unless you are notified otherwise, resume all daily medications when you arrive home from surgery.
7) Are there any dietary restrictions following surgery?
No. Patients can eat whatever they want. Advance your diet from liquids to soft food (pudding, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, oatmeal, pasta) to solids as tolerated. To prevent dehydration, please drink as much juices and nutritional fluid as possible.
8) When is my first postoperative appointment?
You will be asked to come to the office on the first day following facelift for removal of head wrap dressing and drains. You will need someone to drive you to this appointment.
9) Does it hurt to get the drains removed?
Most patients tell us that there is a momentary pulling or blunt sting when the drain is removed. It is described more as a discomfort than pain.
10) Are there any instructions about regular daily activities?
Sleep with head of the bed elevated or use two to three pillows for one week. Facial fullness, headache and disrupted sleep are very normal postoperative symptoms and will decrease as the healing process occurs. Absolutely no bending, lifting or straining. If you have little children, bend at the knees or sit on the floor and let them climb on to your lap.
11) When will I look normal?
You will be presentable at two to three weeks. You will look great at six weeks and even better at six months as things settle and expressions become more natural. At three weeks you know you are well on the way to recovery and most patients resume routine activities around two to three weeks following surgery. Final results are evaluated at one year.
12) How long does healing take?
Healing from facelift to evaluate the final result takes one full year. However, after three months, most patients have about 90% of their final result.