From the moment you wake up from the general anesthesia and open your eyes after your facelift surgery, you may not know quite what to expect. Expect to still be the same “you,” but the way you used to look, years ago, before the onset of facial lines and wrinkles and maybe that sagging neckline.
From that very moment until the facial plastic surgeon removes your bandages for the last time, anticipation over what to expect and how you will appear may get the better of you at times. However, patience not only is a virtue; it’s the one virtue that will get you through the first few hours, days, and weeks after surgery.
Waking Up From the Anesthesia
If you had a traditional facelift procedure done, odds are the doctor recommended general anesthesia to ensure the best outcome. It’s normal to experience chills and nausea immediately after waking up. The discomfort may persist for an hour or so. Be prepared to feel groggy and out of sorts until the anesthesia wears off. If you had outpatient surgery, be sure to have a safe ride home.
When you do get home, your face may be wrapped up in thick bandages. There may have been one or more drainage tubes attached to make sure the blood drains properly, and your face most likely will feel tight and sore from the procedure.
Now for the challenging part: expect to see varying degrees of swelling and bruising one to three days after surgery. Don’t be alarmed. It’s normal for swelling and bruising to occur in and around incision areas and, in most post-op circumstances, it doesn’t indicate a problem or concern. However, you should call your surgeon right away if the swelling and bruising worsen significantly. Keep in mind also that your surgeon will be keeping close tabs on your recovery and scheduling follow-up visits.
A measure of pain and/or discomfort is to be expected after any surgery, including facelift surgery. You may have been prescribed pain killers. Many patients, however, say their recovery was so problem-free that they didn’t need pain medication.
Avoid medicines or food that may cause blood thinning as this will increase your risk of post-surgery bleeding. These include aspirin and garlic. Most importantly, try to stay active during your in-home recovery to keep the blood circulating. This will help to minimize the risk of developing blood clots in the legs and it will make sure that your incision areas are receiving fresh, well-oxygenated blood to promote the healing process. Of course, you will still need to rest and avoid overdoing.
Now for the good part: at the end of your recovery period expect to be pleasantly amazed at how well your incisions have healed and how much younger you look – not to mention the positive comments and compliments you’re likely to receive from your family, friends and co-workers. Expectation is the mother of all questions about facelift surgery. Your plastic surgeon of choice is best qualified to answer them.
Dr. Philip Miller is a board certified facial plastic surgeon with offices located at 60 East 56th, Third Floor, New York, N.Y. Call (212) 750-7100 for a personal consultation or read more about facelift surgery.