Patients considering a facelift at Trillium Plastic Surgery often wonder what to expect as they recover. Getting mentally prepared for what happens in the days, weeks, and months after surgery sets you up for a successful recovery.
Dr. Hall's facelift recovery guide provides a general overview of what to expect before and after surgery, both physically and emotionally. The recovery process is not set in stone. It is highly dependent on the individual. Several factors come into play, including your age, health, mental state, and the specific procedures you choose. While your experience may differ slightly, this guide serves as a helpful tool to help you understand what the reality of facelift surgery is like for most patients.
It is normal to feel a mix of excitement and nerves leading up to surgery. The overlying feeling is usually optimistic. Many patients daydream about seeing their results and reaping the rewards of looking younger and fresher, while others feel apprehensive or try to avoid thinking about their upcoming surgery altogether. These emotions are normal, but it will benefit you to prepare for your surgery in advance.
Grocery shopping the week before your facelift is a wise decision. You can even prepare a few meals ahead of time to make the first days after surgery easier. Dr. Hall recommends soft foods that are easy to chew. Additionally, doing household chores such as laundry in advance takes the pressure off when you return home from the hospital.
Advising family members that you may need help with childcare duties and household tasks during the first week or two of recovery is a good idea. That way, you can focus on your recovery. You will need someone to bring you to the surgery center, take you home, and stay with you for the first night after surgery. Get this arranged well in advance to remove this from your pre-surgery “to do” list.
After surgery, you will not feel comfortable going into public right away. Therefore, you should arrange to take time away from work and social activities. A good rule of thumb is that you will feel like going out in public after about two weeks. Clearing your work and social calendar allows you to recuperate without interruption.
Books, movies, and crossword puzzles can go a long way to keep your mind active as you recover. However, lounging on the sofa all day is not good for recovery. After surgery, you can be lightly active within reason. Dr. Hall encourages taking short walks from day one.
You may have been calm up until now, but suddenly the nerves start to creep in. The night before surgery, it can be challenging to get sufficient sleep. You may ruminate, feel nervous, or second guess yourself. But, mostly, you will feel excited. These feelings are all normal.
Ease your fears by reminding yourself you have done your research. This is the time to trust your gut and know that you have chosen to have a facelift because you and Dr. Hall have decided it is the best way to reach your cosmetic goals.
Your surgery was a success! Here is what happens next.
D ay One
Most patients are surprised to find they don't feel any pain when they wake up in the recovery room. This is due to the lingering effects of local anesthesia. The anesthetic gradually wears over the next few hours. Due to the way we administer anesthesia, very few patients experience nausea after surgery. If you do begin to feel queasy, use some of the anti-nausea medications Dr. Hall prescribed before surgery. Grogginess should taper off in an hour or two but may persist for up to 24 hours. Patients rest better in their own beds following surgery, but we recommend propping yourself up on a few pillows to help keep the swelling after surgery at a minimum. You may feel tightness due to swelling on your face and neck, which is typically worse in the morning and improves within a few hours of waking up.
Day of surgery
W eek One
Days two and three are the hardest. Post-operative swelling can cause a tight sensation, aching, and distortion of your facial features. It may be challenging to open your mouth fully or turn your neck. Your facial skin feels odd and numb, especially around your ears. Remember, these side effects are temporary. The initial discomfort and regret that accompany it are often short-lived.
2 and 3 days post op
By day four, the worst is over. Much of the inflammation and tightness begins to resolve by then, but bruises may appear. You may also feel contour irregularities, but these will even out with time.
This is also the time when boredom sets in. You may feel socially isolated while sitting at home, trying to avoid looking in the mirror. At the end of the first week, Dr. Hall removes the sutures.
Day 4 post op
One Week Post Op
W eek Two
Big changes are happening. As the swelling and bruising begin to fade, you start to feel more optimistic and happy about your decision to have a facelift. Discoloration and numbness persist, but you are beginning to look much better overall. You may feel tingling as the sensation returns to your skin. Most patients return to work and light social activities two to three weeks after surgery.
Week two, before and after
Week two, some of the bruising
W eek Three
You may worry that people will notice that you had a facelift and feel disappointed if they don't notice. The reality is most people will be none the wiser, although you may receive compliments that you look well. If no one says anything, it is okay to feel disappointed. Most people won't notice right away—and that is a good thing. It means your results look natural, just as Dr. Hall intended.
Week 3 post op
W eek Four
At this stage,the majority of the swelling is gone. When you look in the mirror, you can see a preview of your new, younger self. Wrinkles and lax skin are gone. Your jawline looks slimmer and more defined. Your skin feels less tight day by day. The scar may appear red, but it is flat and nearly invisible unless you know where to look.
Week 4, after and before
Week 4, bruising and scar less
W eeks Five to Twelve
Around the fifth week, most patients start to feel more like themselves. They are no longer preoccupied with people noticing and do not feel any lingering discomfort. The scar continues to fade and lighten over time. Compared to a few weeks ago, your confidence is at an all-time high. You look younger and fresher, and wish you had a facelift sooner!
6 weeks post op
3 months post op
4 months post op
9 months post op