Facelift Recovery: What to Expect After Surgery

A facelift, otherwise known as a rhytidectomy, is a cosmetic surgical procedure used to create a rejuvenated, younger appearance by addressing drooping skin, creases, and other age-related contour and skin changes on the face. This procedure does more than simply provide patients with more youthful-looking skin. During facelift surgery, loose skin on each side of the face is tightened for a naturally lifted look, with the excess skin trimmed away, excess fat removed, and underlying tissue adjusted as necessary.

There are many variations on the procedure. Long Island-based plastic surgeon Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh, for instance, uses NaturaGlow™ fat grafting to add volume in key areas as part of the NaturaFace™ technique he developed. In this technique, a multi-vector, multi-plane adjustment of soft tissues is designed to “reverse” the effects of intrinsic aging: an inevitable process that, along with gravitational forces, causes skin and fat to gradually slump downward on the face.

The shift in tissue has the unwanted effect of altering the face’s natural harmony and youthful angles. Supple and full cheeks become sunken, temples may appear pinched in, and fat migrates to new areas, causing a double chin or jowls. In addition to these shifts, the rate of skin cell turnover slows, collagen and elastin are produced in smaller amounts, and the moisture and fat that contribute to a beautiful complexion start to become depleted.

Deep wrinkles and creases form in the skin as collagen and other elements dwindle, creating a permanent “tired face” or “angry” appearance. If a person has spent much of their young life sunbathing, smoking, or being deprived of sleep, this typically worsens the skin’s appearance by hastening the natural breakdown of important molecules. UV radiation from the sun actively weakens the skin’s connective tissue and can even warp the DNA of cells.

For a facelift, patients are usually sedated or given local or general anesthesia, depending on the extent of the procedures. After the fat, muscle, and tissues of the face have been sculpted and the skin tightened in place, sutures or surgical tape are used to close any incisions. As this is significant surgery, patients can expect some level of discomfort, swelling, numbness, and drainage in the following days—though, to some degree, the extent of the recovery depends on the skill and techniques employed by the plastic surgeon.

The procedure site will be bandaged with surgical dressings, which, in the NaturaFace™ technique, is removed after surgery. Each person’s experience is different, as some people heal faster than others. In the days and weeks after a procedure, it’s critical to follow all postoperative instructions and attend any scheduled follow-up appointments.

Sticking to the plan—and heeding your surgeon’s advice—helps to ensure a smooth recovery period and minimize the risk of infections or complications, while getting the best possible results from the facelift. Establishing a self-care routine to take care of a post-op face is also vital. Patients are advised to not touch the incisions, to wear comfortable clothes that don’t need to be pulled over the head, to keep the head elevated, and to avoid intense physical activity for a couple of weeks. Note that makeup and hair treatments, like bleaching or perming, can also interfere with the first month and a half of recovery.

In order to best maintain the results of a facelift, it’s best to keep a stable weight and healthy diet, and to avoid habits that may be damaging to the skin (smoking, tanning, etc.).

While a facelift may do well to address moderate to severe symptoms of aging, it isn’t the right treatment for everyone. For example, a facelift is not meant for smoothing out lines and furrows in the upper third of the face. Depending on the type of concerns or imperfections a patient hopes to reduce, there are various cosmetic alternatives available.

Patients who wish to get rid of crow’s feet, laugh lines, and worry lines around the forehead and eye areas would have better luck with a forehead and/or eyelid lift, or with injectables like BOTOX®. People concerned about dull or discolored skin, sun spots, hyperpigmentation, scars, or texture issues may find chemical peels or dermabrasion beneficial.

To learn more about facelift surgery and other facial and body procedures, contact Alizadeh Cosmoplastic Surgery. Call 516-439-5010 (Long Island), 212-348-0100 (Westchester), or 212.348.0100 (Manhattan), or send a message online for more details.

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Categories: Beauty Lifestyle