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Recovery from Face/Neck Lift

Facelift Timeline

Days 1-4:

  • After Dr. Ramesh removes the initial dressing, wear the elastic wrap provided while you are awake for the first 2 weeks after surgery.
  • Your eyes will feel very swollen and may have chemosis (swelling or bleeding on the eyeball itself, which looks like “jelly”), dark bruising on the eyelids or face, or significant swelling. The PEAK day with the worst swelling is day 3 (with the day of surgery being day 0).
  • Bleeding from the incisions is normal. If you have bleeding, apply an ice compress with firm pressure to the area for 15 minutes.
  • You will feel tired as you recover from anesthesia. Take rest, do not strain yourself, and eat small, easily-digestible meals.
  • You might have pain in your eyelids, pain in the temple/when you chew if you had an eyebrow lift, pain when you move your eyes, or tenderness to touch. This is normal for the first several days.
  • You will not look or feel like yourself due to swelling, and you will be asymmetric. Recognize that surgery is a process and you will take 3-6 months to heal, but you will start to look like yourself in 14 days.
  • Your smile will be asymmetric for several days to weeks. This is due to swelling. The act of doing surgery also sometimes causes the muscles and nerves to fall dormant (“apraxia”) – these usually “wake up” in 4-6 weeks and patients are symmetric again. Very rarely do these asymmetries persist for longer than 3-6 months.
  • HEMATOMA: During the first 7 days after surgery, the major risk is hematoma (1% of patients). If you have a large bruise in your face or neck (the size of a tangerine, plum, or larger), text Dr. Ramesh a photo and call him immediately. This may require urgent drainage. If this is drained appropriately, this will not affect your final result. Feel free to text photos to Dr. Ramesh’s cell phone at any time you are concerned.

To prevent the occurrence of hematoma, DO NOT bend, strain, stoop, lift anything > 15 lbs, engage in vigorous or sexual activity, get your heart rate up, do housework/laundry/chores, or make sudden movements of your head/neck for 2 FULL weeks.

  • DRAINS: Dr. Ramesh might use drains to reduce post-operative swelling/bruising. Attach the drainage tubes to your clothing so that the bottles are not pulling on your skin. Dr. Ramesh will likely remove the drain within the first 5 days of surgery. You should empty the drains and record the output twice daily. To empty the drain:
    • Unplug the drainage plug on the bulb. Hold the bulb upside down over a measuring container.
    • Squeeze the bulb until it is empty of drainage fluid. Notice the amount of drainage and write it on the chart.
    • Squeeze the bulb to get the air out. When the bulb is collapsed as much as it can be, insert the plug back into the drain hole.
    • DO NOT rinse or clean your drainage bulb under any circumstances. This could make you susceptible to infection.

Days 5-14:

  • Your swelling should be improving day by day, but will still be very noticeable with purple, green, or yellowish bruising. Due to gravity, even if you had only eyelid surgery you may still see bruises in your cheek, jaw, or neck. You will start looking like yourself at day 14. The discoloration from bruises is typically resolved by day 14.
  • You might have pain upon touching the suture sites, or staples in the head.
  • You will start to look like yourself, and day by day the bruising/discoloration will improve.
  • Expect numbness along the lash lines or in your hairline. This is normal and usually disappears within several weeks.
  • Some people become mildly depressed after surgery. Many people regret having surgery at all during the first week due to the bruising and swelling. You are not alone! Again, surgery is a process and it takes time for the swelling and bruising to improve. One must be patient during this time and remember that the swelling and discoloration are only temporary. It is best to adopt a positive attitude and look forward to resuming normal living as soon as possible. Persistent use of analgesics or sleeping pills may delay rapid convalescence.
    – 1st week – 25% healing
    – 1st month – 50% healing
    – 3 months – 95% healing
    – 6-12 months – fully healed
  • INFECTION: The major risk between weeks 1-2 is that of infection. If you experience pain, a foul smell, whitish or purulent discharge from the incisions, or a pocket of red, swollen, and tender fluid, notify Dr. Ramesh immediately. This will need to be drained and you will need oral antibiotics. If treated appropriately and quickly, this should not affect your final result.

Days 14+:

  • You will most likely look and feel much better, although there still will be swelling in the surgical area. The skin or tissues will feel tight. Your blinking and smiling may still not be complete or normal. It will take 6-12 months for all of this to improve, and warm compresses will help the area to heal.
  • Occasionally, small cysts (called milia), which resemble whiteheads, appear along the incisions. These can be eliminated easily in the office if they do not resolve in 3 months. Use a gentle exfoliating regimen – Cetaphil Extra Gentle Daily Facial Scrub used every morning is a great way to exfoliate the eyelid skin. You can apply this right up to the eyelashes.
  • You can start using silicone scar gel (ScarAway, Skinuva, ScarGuard, etc). Mederma has Vitamin E oil but often no silicone. These can be purchased at the drugstore. The silicone gel should be applied to all incisions every night (and in the mornings if you desire) with gentle massage along the incision itself.

Contact Us

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    The Center for Eye and Facial Plastic Surgery
    35 Clyde Road, #104
    Somerset, NJ 08873
    Monday – Friday: 8:30a – 4:30p

    Livingston Office
    22 Old Short Hills Rd Suite 202
    Livingston, NJ 07039
    Monday: 9:00a – 5:00p
    Tuesday: 12:00p – 7:00p
    Wednesday – Friday: 9:00a – 5:00p

    P: (609) 608-0142
    F: (855) 644-0469

    Contact Us 609-608-0142