Recovery And Return To Social Life After Facelift
13 April 2021 onur
Facial rejuvenation surgeries are no longer a retirement project today. A significant portion of facelift candidates live actively, work intensively and continue their social lives apace. Therefore, creating a window for this procedure in the hustle and bustle of daily life and returning to life as quickly as possible are among the priorities for most patients. Every physician’s practice is naturally different from each other. You can think of what I am telling you as basic information that applies for the postoperative process after my surgeries.
I usually perform facelift surgery under general anesthesia, and the operation time varies between 3-7 hours, depending on the scope of the procedure and accompanying additional surgical procedures. We try to keep you under surface anesthesia as much as possible during surgery. We don’t need anesthetic depths that paralyze the muscles or disable the body’s basic reflexes. Therefore, our patients get through the post-anesthesia process relatively easily.
In routine practice, you spend the first 48 hours in the hospital after surgery. The first 24 hours of this are a medical requirement, and the second 24 hours are for you to feel the psychological confidence of being close to your doctor.
We observe you in the recovery unit inside the operating room for about an hour after the operation. Then you will go to your room. When you go to your room, you will have a corset on your face. This corset will run around your ears and from the bottom of your neck to the top of your head, leaving the center of your face exposed. The purpose of the corset is to prevent bleeding under the skin, to allow me to easily open and close the dressing while monitoring the vitality of the skin after the surgery, and to provide patient comfort. Blood will leak on this corset, and your purely white corset will be stained. Although some patients are obsessed with cleanliness because there is blood on their cotton-white corset, bleeding in the form of leakage is normal and is always observed. Don’t worry, you will use it for a total of 24 hours anyway and I will remove your corset the morning after the surgery.
The first night is usually not very painful, but we still use routine painkillers to minimize any possible painful process. Since the incision sites are numb after facelift surgery, you will not even feel those sites, let alone any pain. The place where the pain may be felt is usually the temporal area below the sideburns and behind the ear. These are the places where we fix the deep tissue layers to the floor with permanent sutures, and it is quite normal to have slight pain and tension there.
You will have some nausea on your first night after the surgery. We will monitor you for nausea and give you routine antiemetic medications. Another important postoperative follow-up item is your blood pressure. Hypertensive patients bleed under the skin more frequently after surgery, so we want the blood pressure to be below 140/90. To that end, we may sometimes give you drugs that keep your blood pressure low, even if you are not hypertensive.
On the first night, we will ask you to get up and walk a lot. Drains will pop out from behind both ears. You will reattach these drains to the side of your corset and continue pacing the corridor. Unfortunately, these frequent walks on the night of the surgery are not negotiable. Let me put it straight from the beginning: No excuses, no laziness, no sluggishness. In addition, to remove the edema accumulated in the lungs, we will get you to do breathing exercises with a blowing toy with balls on it. Apart from these, you will be fed orally with light food from postop hour 4 onwards. I don’t even need to tell you, but still, only as a matter of form, let me emphasize that smoking is strictly prohibited in the first week after the surgery.
In the morning of the postoperative day, we will open your corset and do a little cleaning. Your face will remain open from that moment on. You can have a bath if you want. At that stage, your face may appear overstretched and operated. Don’t worry. This is temporary and will improve within the next 10-14 days. Please think ahead of time who will visit you at the hospital. Visitors can sometimes be tactless and upset my patients by saying needless things like, “Oh, your face looks too stretched.” Your companion and visitor selection is one of the few things I cannot do for you. You will feel better on your second day at the hospital. You may get bored, so don’t forget to bring something to entertain yourself such as a book or tablet. You can brush your teeth on the second day.
On the morning of the second postoperative day (if you had surgery on Monday, this will be Wednesday morning), I will remove your drains. You will not be hurt while the drains are being removed. Please do not get stressed unnecessarily. After the drains are removed, you will wear the corset for another 30 minutes to make sure no fluid accumulates in the drain line. Then we will remove it and discharge you. When you are discharged, accessories such as a large sunglasses, scarf and a large straw hat will be useful to camouflage your operated appearance. You can drive after being discharged from hospital, but I would not recommend it at all. No one knows what will happen. You better go home with a relative. If there is no one to pick you up, I will arrange a transfer vehicle for you to take you home/to the hotel.
We recommend that you spend postop days 2-7 preferably at home. But not under curfew!!!
Go out to the garden or the park. Walk outside in the morning and evening. Let your friends visit you. You can do little household chores. You can work with your computer or at your desk. Do not do any exercise and do not knock yourself out. The increased blood pressure at this stage may cause minor bleeding under your skin. It is not very harmful, but the bruises from these bleedings do not go away for weeks. If you have a cat at home, let me know because we may need to extend the duration of your antibiotic use. As long as you’re home, camouflaging with water-soluble make-up is allowed. You can also have a bath once or twice a day. Do not lock the bathroom door and make sure there is a seat inside the shower/bathtub. The water should be warm. Water, foam or shampoo may contact the incision sites. They will do no harm. Keep your face clean.
On postop day 7-8, you will have your first follow-up appointment at my practice. During that appointment, I will remove your sutures, we will have some chat and I will see you off. Next follow-ups will be in postop month 1 and 3. When you leave my practice, you will still have some swelling and edema on your face. Particularly the swelling in the temporal area may last a little longer than those in other places. During that period, you can get help from your hairdresser about hairstyle and make-up. Untied and wavy hairstyles usually perfectly camouflage the scars in front of the ears. It is critical that the hairdresser gives you a gentle blow-dry. You can dye your hair in postoperative week 6.
You can return to work and social life between postoperative days 10-14 (unless there is a complication requiring otherwise). I am not saying that you will have complete facial recovery by those days. That’s why make-up and hairstyle are very important around that time. You can apply foundation on the scars. In addition, the slightly yellowish discoloration from the postoperative bruises on your face can be camouflaged with several layers of foundation during this period.
When you resume social life, the most important test waiting for you will be your reactions to comments from your friends. People who know that you have had surgery often feel the urge to make a comment. Comments may sometimes annoy you. Adjust your expectations accordingly. When patients return to social life, their expectations about comments range from “Wow, look at how much you have changed” to “There is something different about you, but I can’t tell what it is.” As a general rule, the more advanced your preoperative deformity is, the more significant the difference will be. For instance, patients in their mid-40s often do not receive any comments at all. We can clearly see the difference in the before and after photos, but even if the patient’s social circle perceives a difference, it will not be easy for them to attribute this to surgery.
How the postoperative process unfolds is closely related to the technique employed in facelift surgery. I usually prefer deep plane facelift surgery, and the deep plane typically heals faster than the subcutaneous plane. In cases where facelift surgery is combined with fat injection or periorbital procedures around the eyes, the “operated” appearance may typically be prolonged for 1-2 weeks. Therefore, in most patients today, we perform deep plane facelift and endoscopic forehead lift surgery in the same session but we perform adipose tissue transfer and eyelid aesthetic surgery in different sessions. Recovery and return to social life can thus be faster.
I recommend that you do not force the repair lines on your face for the first 6 weeks after the surgery. Avoid opening your mouth excessively during that period. You can eat anything but cut your food into small bites and slices. Try not to use mimics excessively. For the first 6 weeks, I recommend that you do not sleep on your stomach – in prone position – as much as possible. Furthermore, for the first 6 weeks, it is wise to avoid challenging exercise and combat/contact sports (such as tennis, football, volleyball and boxing).
Around postoperative month 3, your scars will usually regress to a level that is not very noticeable when you tie your hair back and will be barely visible even when viewed closely around the first year.
In the process of recovery and return to social life after facial rejuvenation surgery, there may be differences depending on whether there are complications, the surgical technique used, the surgeon, the patient’s individual healing characteristics, and the dynamics of social and business life. It is useful to review these variations in detail with your doctor during the preoperative examination/information process.
After all, all aesthetic interventions are a break from work/social life.
We should not be late for life, fearing that we will be late for work.
Take good care… of yourself and your beauty.