If you’ve bitten the bullet and gone for a facelift then you will have sacrificed a lot of money and comfort in order to change the way you look. You will likely have to deal with people’s altered perception of you, and generally this is a huge commitment to change. If all goes well you will hopefully find that it was worth the commitment – that you emerge a new person with new found confidence, feeling more comfortable in your own skin and with more doors and opportunities open to you than ever before.
But it’s not going to be like that when you first wake up – and if you had any doubts going in to the operation then this can be a rather rude awakening and a potentially upsetting and stressful time. Your face isn’t going to be perfectly transformed as soon as you wake up, rather it’s going to be painful and swollen and it will take some time to heal and get back to normal. Until it has, you might find your face looks worse and that you experience some pain, and this can be very concerning as you keep your fingers crossed that it’s all going to work out how you planned.
Knowing what to expect can help you to deal with the process better and can spare you undue worries. At the same time, knowing how to treat your face correctly while it recovers can improve your chances of it healing well and without complication. Here we will look at what to expect and how to help your recovery along its way.
Patience Is a Virtue
First of all, recognize that it is indeed normal to experience pain, bruising, swelling and more following a facelift. It’s normal for your face to look force and the old adage that ‘everything gets worse before it gets better’ certainly applies here. At the same time it’s normal to feel unwell and in quite a lot of pain – so don’t panic and just let it run its course.
What to Expect
When you wake up in the recovery room you will be likely to feel cold and ill and this is a result of the procedure itself as well as the anesthetic. The nurses will be on hand to help you get comfortable when you alert them to your being awake.
Your face is likely to feel tight and tender at this point. You will also likely wake to see draining tubes to drain excess blood and fluids, some dressing around the face and some bandaging. You won’t be able to see much of your face at this point depending on the nature of your facelift, and the tubes etc can be somewhat off putting. This is normal though, and all part of the process. If you feel a lot of pain you should be able to ask for more medication, and you should make sure to get someone to drive you home if this was an outpatient procedure as you will be groggy and in pain.
You will have your first postoperative appointment usually the day after your surgery and your doctor may change your bandages during this time. Over the next three days your face is likely to swell more – again don’t worry that’s normal. Once you get past these three days though it will start to dissipate and your face will return to normal. Sutures and stitches will tend to be removed around five to seven days into the process, while staples in the scalp if they were used will come out around 10 days in as the scalp takes longer to heal. Bruising might also come on gradually. Your doctor will want to see you a few times over the coming weeks and will let you know when you can start to remove the bandage and wrap.
You will be sent home with painkillers to help combat the pain as well as possibly antibiotics. The antibiotics are designed to help prevent infection and this is very important as an infection can lead to a lot of different complications that can result in your requiring further procedures and scarring. Make sure you complete the course of the medication.
Returning to Work
If you are getting a facelift then you should be prepared to book about two weeks off of work as this is how long it will take you to be fit to return. However if you are concerned about swelling and bruising then it is possible to disguise this a little with makeup (that goes for men too) such as some foundation etc and glasses which can hide any bruising around the eyes.
After around 1-4 months your swelling and bruising should have completely cleared up and this will enable you to finally start to enjoy your new looks and feel confident in your own skin again. You’ve worked hard for it, so you deserve the reward that comes from it.
It can be a difficult experience going through a facelift and it’s normal to feel some depression or even a mild identity crisis. You may feel depression at seeing your face in this condition and swollen and bruised when you were hoping for an immediate improvement, or you may regret your decision or feel like it’s not ‘you’ in the mirror. Meanwhile your immune system will be fighting to repair your wounds and that will leave you tired and lethargic. Remember that you will soon look much better, and that it’s not your face that defines you. Once you get outside and start seeing people’s reactions to the new you you will undoubtedly start to feel better. In the meantime though if you are having difficulties, be sure to see someone to talk about your issues. Things like cognitive behavioral therapy can help you through the process.
Facelift Recovery Tips
• When sleeping, try to elevate your head further than normal. This will help to drain fluids and reduce swelling more quickly so you look more normal. To achieve that use lots of pillows and this will also help cushion your face should you roll over in the night.
• Get plenty of rest, avoid drinking and smoking and eat a balanced and nutritious diet – all this will help you to heal as quickly and as well as possible.
• Do not comb your hair – you will have incisions along the hair line and doing so can tug on them. You should ask your doctor about washing your hair, but it might be easiest to use some dry shampoo.
• Do not exert yourself, and in particular do not bend over and pick up heavy objects. In general avoid doing anything that causes a rush of blood to the face.
• Walk around regularly to encourage a healthy blood circulation.
• If you have a mouth incision then your ability to eat will be restricted. Be sure to quiz the doctor on what you can and can’t eat and to rinse your mouth with antiseptic. You may struggle to open your mouth wide in general for the first week or so due to tightness and swelling so investing in some meal replacement may not be a bad idea.
• If you find it stressful looking at yourself during the recovery then just avoid mirrors and pictures. This will allow you to avoid the fact that your face is damaged and to just look at the results when the swelling and bruising has gone down.
• Look out for excessive redness around your face and the symptoms of a cold or fever – this can be a sign of an infection and it’s important to get to a doctor as soon as possible if you suspect this to be the case.
• Though your skin may feel tight and itchy, don’t rub it and generally try to avoid touching it to give it the best chance to heal.
• Look at some before and after photos relating to your precise procedure so you know what to expect and this will help to give you more realistic expectations.
• Keep your eye on the prize and think about how you are going to embrace your new look and what you will do with it. Changing your hair cut and getting a new wardrobe is a great way to complete the transformation and to really start feeling re-invigorated.