The facelift surgery can deliver impressive results when performed by a talented and experienced facial plastic surgeon, provided that the patient is committed to following the post-operative indications. This intervention is one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures around the globe as it is the only efficient method to erase 8 to 10 years from the level of the face, offering the patient a rejuvenated, fresh new look.

The results achieved with the facelift are different from patient to patient, and there are a number of factors that can impact the healing process and the sustainability of the results in time. Let’s see what you should do to speed up recovery after a facelift and maximize the results' longevity.

What happens after the facelift surgery?

The intervention can take as long as five hours, and it might be performed in association with other procedures such as a neck lift, brow lift and blepharoplasty to get the most natural results and improve the contours of the entire face.

Once the procedure is performed, the patient will spend a few hours in the recovery room before being transferred to the hospital ward for further recovery overnight. In some situations, patients may stay in hospital for several days depending on the complexity of the procedure and the patient's health condition.

You’ll need to have someone waiting for you to take you home after the intervention. Having someone around the house to keep an eye on you and help you with meals is recommended for the first 24 to 72 hours after the surgical intervention.

Upon your return home, you’ll need to start taking the pain medication, as well as the antibiotics the surgeon has prescribed to avoid a potential infection.

How to organize things before the surgery to speed up the recovery

You probably know already that the preparation process for the surgery is just as important as the surgery itself and the recovery period. But when we think about the preparation for the surgery, it’s mostly about having a proper, balanced diet, avoiding smoking, alcohol, and certain medication and natural supplements, as per doctor’s orders. However, there are things you can do to your environment to ensure you have a smooth and uneventful recovery.

Preparing the room, you’ll be in upon your return home is important and can minimize the post-operative discomfort. Make sure you have clean sheets on the bed, fresh and clean pillowcases, and throw a few more pillows on the bed than what you’d normally need.

Make sure to get entertainment ready for the recovery period too. This means books, magazines, games, and even movies to avoid getting bored during those first post-op days.

After the surgery, you’ll experience a certain level of bruising and inflammation at the level of the face. Stock up on ice packs or gel packs that can be easily frozen and use them during the first two days after getting back home. You might also want to stock up on mouth wash, as brushing your teeth might be difficult and not very comfortable for a few days post-op.

You might also want to think in advance about your meals after the surgery. The recommendation is to try light meals, preferably soups, yogurts, and purees, as well as lean meat or fish for proteins.

Avoiding complications after the facelift surgery

A fast and uneventful recovery process is also about avoiding complications. Aside from the regular side effects of the procedure that we mentioned before – swelling and bruising – there are other risks and potential complications associated with this procedure.

Infection is very rare but will require immediate treatment if it occurs. Patients are advised to pay attention to signs of infection such as high fever, chills, redness and excessive swelling in the area, pus at the level of the surgical incisions as well as the opening of the incisions and contact the facial plastic surgeon as soon as possible for treatment. As mentioned before, antibiotics are often prescribed to avoid infection.

Other complications worth mentioning are skin necrosis. This is a rare occurrence, and the risks are much higher in patients who smoke. To avoid this risk, you should stop smoking at least three to four months before the intervention and continue to remain a non-smoker for another month after the surgery or until the recovery process is complete. Smoking has a significant negative impact on tissue recovery after the surgery due to the lack of proper oxygenation of the blood. And this is why skin necrosis occurs more often in smoking patients.

More suggestions and recommendations to speed up recovery after a facelift

The recovery process is not only dependent on the patient’s ability to follow the plastic surgeon’s indications, but also other factors such as the patient’s age, health, and emotional condition. A positive attitude, as well as patience, are recommended during the healing process. Patients are also advised to:

- Rest with the head elevated on one or multiple pillows to get rid of the swelling as soon as possible;

- Avoid taking medication other than the ones prescribed by the doctor;

- Avoid sun exposure;

- Use an SPF 50+ cream when going out during the day for a few months post-op;

- Avoid intense physical exercises for a few weeks.

- Apply silicon based scar gel to the wounds for 3 months following surgery

Final words

Patients turn to the facelift procedure to get a more rejuvenated appearance. The recovery process is an intrinsic part of this journey toward a fresher and healthier looking self. To speed up the healing process, you need to adopt the right attitude and follow the indications to minimize the risks and complications.

Most patients need no longer than three weeks to resume normal, daily activities and work. However, bruising and swelling can last a bit longer in some cases. The scars healing process might take up to 6 to 8 months, so give it some time before assessing the results. The good news is that the scars are well-hidden in the natural folds of the skin and the scalp, so they shouldn’t be visible.

The benefits of facelift surgery far outweigh the minor risks involved with the procedure. When considering surgery, always carefully research your surgeon and consider all your options.