A Facelift, also called rhytidectomy surgery, is one of the most commonly done cosmeti procedures. It is often done to correct asthetic or functional problems with the nose, and when done by an experienced surgeon, can often bring the desired result. There are always risks, however, and the surgery itself isn’t the only thing you need to consider. Post-surgery is the recovery period, which is almost as important as the procedure itself if you want to achieve the desired results. With the right information and preparation, you can reduce the chances of surgical complications.
Dr Hunt and Dr Maryam offer their patients in Sydney and Wollongong NSW the full spectrum of facial rejuvenation surgery. Your surgeon and nurses will thoroughly explain what you should do and what to avoid during recovery.
The Day of the Facelift Surgery (Rhytidectomy)
The facelift or rhytidectomy surgery is performed under general anaesthesia. However, it is common to feel groggy when you wake up, due to the effects of the anaesthesia. You will be on pain medication that will help you feel more comfortable after the surgery.
Swelling and bruising are common side effects of any surgical procedure, so these are expected after the facelift (rhytidectomy) too. At the same time, a tight sensation might also be present. You won’t be able to see the results immediately after the procedure is performed. The swelling and bruising will take some time to subside before you see a major improvement in your face.
Although some patients are a day surgery, most patients are asked to stay a day or two in the hospital. Make sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after the surgery. You won’t be able or allowed to drive yourself due to the effects of anaesthesia and bandages wrapped on your face.
Make sure to take all the medications prescribed by your surgeon. They will help you manage post-operative pain, avoid infections and have an overall smooth recovery. What medication works for you might not work with another patient and vice versa. Avoid taking any over-the-counter drugs at any point during the recovery phase unless instructed.
Recovery after Facelift Rhytidectomy – The First Few Days at Home
During the first few days post-facelift surgery, you might experience a certain level of discomfort, but no significant pain, provided that you are taking your meds regularly. The swelling and bruising is usually present at this point, this is a normal occurrence and to be expected. Do not expect to see the outcome of the surgery during this initial phase of recovery. The swelling might be more pronounced on one side than the other. Your facial muscles and skin have been injured in the process. Your skin needs time and rest to heal and recover.
At this point, it is a good idea to be patient and relaxed. It is helpful to have someone to support you around the house. Make sure to get off the bed and move gently around the house as soon as possible. Do not walk at a fast pace though as it can do more harm than good. Stay clear of strenuous activities like jogging, weight lifting, and other forms of physical exercise for at least a month. If you have drainage tubes in place, you will be asked to come in for a follow-up visit during the first week to get them removed.
Recovery after Facelift – One Week Post Facelift Rhytidectomy Surgery
Most patients will be able to stop their pain medication a week after the facelift (rhytidectomy). You should slowly and steadily start to feel better and become more active around the house. You will still have bruising and swelling. The good news is that a week after surgery the side effects will start to subside.
Patience is a very important element of the recovery period, especially after a facelift (rhytidectomy) surgery. It will take some time before you are able to see the final results of the procedure. You can use a cold compress to help with the swelling. Avoid applying heat of any kind to your face or near the incision site. Make sure to follow all the instructions given to you by your surgeon or the medical team. At this point, you will still be sleeping with your head in an elevated position. It will minimise your swelling and promote quick healing. You can start driving if you have stopped taking pain meds, a week after the surgery.
Two Weeks Post Facelift Surgery (Rhytidectomy)
As soon as you have hit the two-week mark, you can return to light work, if your job isn’t physically demanding. If your job requires physical effort, your surgeon might recommend you to take a few additional weeks off from work. You will still have some level of swelling and bruising. You can easily cover bruising with mineral makeup.
It is common to experience a tingling sensation in your skin as the swelling goes down and sensations in your face start to return. While it is a very normal part of the recovery, it is important to get in touch with your surgeon if any symptom makes you feel uncomfortable. You can usually go back to taking your regular meds if your surgeon gives you the go ahead. Stay clear of blood thinners as they can prolong the bruising.
One Month after a Facelift Rhytidectomy Surgery
Congratulations, you have finished most of your recovery. Most patients will be able to resume all of their day-to-day activities and even start to slowly return to exercise. Make sure to consult with your surgeon before returning to your regular exercise routine. Pay attention to your body while working out and stop any time you feel excessively tired.
It is not uncommon to experience mild, isolated swelling in certain parts of the face. Some patients also experience tingling sensations even a month after the surgery. It is common and nothing to be worried about.
Two Months after a Facelift Surgery (Rhytidectomy)
Once the initial two months have passed, you will be completely finished with the side effects of the surgery such as pain, swelling and bruising.
You can now enjoy the results of the surgery. Moreover, you can completely return to your normal life and resume all sorts of activities including lifting and intense physical exercises.
Prepapring for a Facelift – What to do Before Facelift Surgery Rhytidectomy
Most people think about the recovery phase only after they are done with the surgery. With the right pre-surgery preparation, you can be more prepared for your recovery.
You can arrange in advance for someone to help you around the house during the initial phases of recovery, take some time off from work and take the essential steps that will help you with the recovery.
Here are a few things that can come in handy:
- Make sure to stock up your fridge with healthy, low-sodium meals that you can simply reheat and eat after surgery. You don’t want to be eating anything unhealthy that is high in sodium as it will slow down the healing process. Make sure to choose balanced meals and incorporate protein into every single meal. A high fibre diet will be immensely helpful post the surgery. Try to make softer foods as they are easy to chew for the first days after the surgery
- Make sure to get your comfortable clothes ready for the first few weeks of recovery. You won’t fancy doing your laundry when you are recovering. Make sure you have easy to wear, comfortable, and breathable clothes to wear during the recovery period
- Prepare your resting and recovery space in advance. This will be where you will be spending most time after the surgery. Typically, it will be your bedroom or lounge. If you can, add a recliner to your room as it makes sleeping much more comfortable. It will help to keep your head in an elevated position and minimise post-operative swelling. You can also rest in bed. Just make sure to stack up a couple of pillows to keep underneath your head. Keep the following items within your arm’s length: phone, charger, remote controls, tissues, water, medications, ointments, dressings, books/magazines/other items for entertainment, a few snacks, and anything else that you might need
Top Tips for a Smoother Recovery after Facelift (Rhytidectomy)
Here are some tips to have a quicker and smoother recovery:
- Make sure to take all the prescribed meds on time if you want to avoid pain and infections during the recovery
- Take a minimum of two weeks off from work. This time will allow you to recover smoothly and rest during the initial phases of recovery
- Sleep with your head in an elevated position. Ideally, a recliner would work best. If you want to sleep in your bed instead, stack up a few pillows underneath your head
- Eat healthy, balanced meals that are low in sodium. The right food will nourish your body from within and allow for a quick recovery
- Make sure to visit the clinic for all the follow-up appointments. It will give him a chance to overview your progress and ensure you are not dealing with any complications
- Use a cold compress to minimise swelling, following the surgery. Be careful and do not ice burn yourself. Wrap the ice in a towel and apply it for 10 minutes at a time
- Take care of your incisions. Keep them clean and dry at all times and apply the topical ointments as instructed
- Stay clear of heavy lifting and strenuous workouts for at least two months after getting a facelift (rhytidectomy) surgery
- Do not take blood-thinning medications, herbal supplements or any over the counter meds for at least the first two weeks of the surgery
- Drink enough water to get rid of the excess fluid retention and help your body heal quickly
- Do not vape, smoke or drink alcohol during the recovery phase as it will disrupt the healing process
At any point during the recovery, if you feel uncomfortable and experience complications, get in touch with your surgeon immediately. Do not ignore any of the following signs: fever, excessive-prolonged swelling, infections, rash, swelling on one side of the body, bleeding from the incision site and extreme pain.
Further Reading about Facelift Rhytidectomy Surgery
- Read Dr Hunt’s Deep Plane Facelift (Rhytidectomy) Surgery page
- Read Dr Hunt’s Facelift (Rhytidectomy) Surgery page
- Read Dr Hunt’s Lower Facelift (Rhytidectomy) Surgery page
- See Dr Hunt’s Real Patient Facelift (Rhytidectomy) Surgery Before and After Photos
- Read Dr Hunt’s blog about 6 Questions to Ask before a Facelift (Rhytidectomy)
- Read Dr Hunt’s blog about Midface Lift (Rhytidectomy) surgery
- Read Dr Hunt’s blog about Facial Asymmetry Problems – What are your options for an asymmetric face?
Medical Resources about Recovery after Facelift Rhytidectomy
- Your facelift (rhytidectomy) recovery explained from Day 1 to Day 30
- Face-Lifts (rhytidectomy) page on WebMD
- Facelift (rhytidectomy) Part II: Surgical Techniques and Complications
About Dr Jeremy Hunt – Specialist Plastic Surgeon
Dr Jeremy Hunt is one a specialist plastic surgeon performing breast, body, face and nose surgery. He is a member of FRACS & ASPS and has over 20 years of experience providing plastic surgery in Sydney.
Careful, considerate and honest, Dr Jeremy Hunt works with you to find a solution that is suitable for your body and your lifestyle. Every patient is unique and requires a personalised approach to reach their goals.
Dr Hunt has provided his one-on-one service and attention to detail to thousands of women and men from the Sydney & Wollongong NSW area and across Australia.
Dr Hunt’s qualifications and education
Dr Jeremy A. Hunt MBBS FRACS graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine degree from Sydney University in 1990 and is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and member of ASPS – the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. He completed a Fellowship at the University of Texas in the United States, where he learnt from well-established and experienced plastic surgeons.
Next Step – Make an Enquiry or Request a consultation with Dr Hunt
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- Request more information about the procedure – call on 1300 157 200 or contact us
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Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health professional.