The Question of the Week for last week’s Google Hangout with Dr. Thomas Pane of Atlantic Coast Aesthetics came from our Facebook page, and asked, “How long does facelift recovery take?” Dr. Pane is the founder of ACA and a double board-certified surgeon in both general and cosmetic surgery, and enjoys “talking shop” with patients around the country. This particular discussion interested Dr. Pane because he’s done a lot of facelift procedures and so has a fairly good idea of what can be considered “normal.” Of course, every patient and procedure is a little different, but this is what he said is a good “rule of thumb” for how long facelift recovery should be expected to take.
Generally speaking, facelifts are far less painful and difficult procedures, both during and after, than most patients anticipate. The biggest considerations in facelift recovery are the visibility of the scars in front of the ears, bruising and swelling that may occur after the surgery itself. Not every patient will have bruising, although it is common enough as a side effect to be part of the regular post-operative care instructions. Makeup can usually be used to cover any bruising that may occur.
The scarring in front of the ears is most noticeable and prominent within the first 5-7 days after the surgery. After 5-7 days the sutures are normally removed unless there is some medically valid reason to leave them in place. Beyond this time the scarring should be far less noticeable, so Dr. Pane normally recommends that the patient stay out of sight for the first 5-7 days. This timeframe makes a facelift a good thing to do when the patient has plenty of time to recover away from people, such as during a scheduled vacation or time off work.
Most bruising and swelling occurs within a few days of the procedure, if any, and is generally gone by the time the sutures are removed. Dr. Pane suggests at least one week for gross recovery from the surgery and to allow visible bruising and swelling to appear and fade if they do occur. After this, another week is considered normal recovery time to resume full normal activity. Swelling is more common than bruising, but is typically only visible to the patient beyond the first week and gone by the end of the second week as the renovated facial structures knit back together and heal.
Aftercare is vitally important to preventing postoperative complications with a facelift, and the consequences of not following postoperative instructions to the letter can result in more visible problems than disregarding instructions for other types of cosmetic procedures. Some examples can include severe swelling and bruising, extended scar healing time or greater scar visibility after healing, which in extreme cases may require another corrective procedure to manage. Other potential problems include infection and fluid pocket formation that can range from mild to life-threatening or fatal if not addressed promptly. It is generally advised that patients who have had facelift surgery refrain from smoking, direct sunlight and other environmental and habitual factors that may impede, retard or complicate the healing process.
Every patient will tolerate facelift surgery a little differently, and individual healing times and results may vary slightly to significantly depending upon the patient’s age, gender, overall physical health, innate healing ability and other personal and environmental factors. Therefore, the timelines given herein are only a guide and should not be taken as uniform or universal. The skill, knowledge and experience of the surgeon is also a crucial factor in the success of the procedure and the overall outcome, making it very important that the patient perform due diligence in seeking out a surgeon with a solid mix of academic and professional credentials as well as actual experience in performing cosmetic surgery.
At Atlantic Coast Aesthetics, our founder and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Thomas Pane, takes great pride in providing some of the finest cosmetic surgery options available, from facelifts to vaginal rejuvenation to tummy tucks and full “Mommy Makeovers.” For more information on how ACA and Dr. Pane can help you put your best face forward for the world to see, visit us at acplasticsurg.com or call us at 561-422-4116. For more general questions, we invite you to email us or post your question to our Facebook page. Your question could be the “Question of the Week” at an upcoming Google Hangout with Dr. Pane. Remember, the only bad question is the one you don’t ask!