FACE SURGERY RECOVERY INSTRUCTIONS AND ADVICE FOR FACELIFT, RHINOPLASTY, AND MORE
BY DR. CATHERINE S. CHANG
THE DAY OF YOUR FACE PROCEDURE
After your surgery, our nurses will bring you to the recovery room where you will be carefully monitored and attended as you wake up from surgery. Once you are awake and alert, the nurses will help you get dressed and your family member or friend will be invited to see you. Once the anesthesiologist discharges you, your post-operative instructions will be reviewed and you will be able to return home or to the recovery facility.
If you are going home, you must have someone accompany you, as we cannot send you alone. This is for your comfort and safety. If you are going to a recovery retreat, travel to the destination is provided for you. A nurse from the facility will accompany you.
For the first 24 to 48 hours, you will need someone to assist you with medication, meals, ice packs, and to help you with whatever you need. You will need to rest while you are recovering from surgery, so having someone take care of the details will allow you to relax and focus on you!
THE FIRST FEW WEEKS FOLLOWING FACE SURGERY
If you were sent home wearing a chin strap, you will need to wear the strap 24 hours a day for the first week to minimize swelling. It will feel tight for a few days, but rest assured that it will not obstruct your breathing or swallowing.
Applying ice packs for the first 48 hours after surgery will help to reduce swelling. Ice the area as instructed for 20 minutes each hour you are awake for the first day and the second day.
Face procedures do not usually cause much discomfort. If you do experience pain, call the office and we’ll take care of you.
Your first postoperative appointment will be five to seven days after your procedure. We’ll check your incisions and typically you’ll be able to discontinue wearing the chin strap during the day. You will need to wear it at night as swelling is more likely when lying down. After the first week, the chin strap should be worn 12 hours on and 12 hours off.
In case of eye procedures like an eyelid lift, expect bruising, as the eyes are very vascular. We can offer laser treatment 5 days after your procedure which will greatly diminish the duration of bruising.
SWELLING AFTER FACE SURGERY & INCISION CARE
You will experience swelling which results in a tight feeling around the eyes, the face and the neck. This is common. Some patients have minor throat irritation from the endotracheal tube placed during the anesthetic. This usually resolves in a day and within 48 hours most patients report little to no pain.
You can shower once cleared to do so, and it is helpful to allow warm water and mild soap to run over the incisions. Afterward, pat the incisions dry and apply an antibiotic ointment such as bacitracin or polysporin. If you had an eye procedure, you will be prescribed eye drops that need to be administered daily for the first five days. It is also important to hydrate, so drink plenty of water.
As incisions heal, they can become itchy; resist the urge to pick at them or to remove loose skin. Doing so can lead to infections and scarring. When you cleanse and moisturize your skin, use hypoallergenic, fragrance-free products and a non-soap cleanser.
It isn’t necessary to cover the incisions with dressings once they have been removed at the office. It is helpful to keep the incisions free of crust and blood and to keep them moist with ointment. If you have external stitches, they will be removed approximately one week after your procedure.
Swelling can be dramatic during the first 48 hours, so don’t be alarmed. This will resolve quickly and usually within 2 to 3 weeks you will be free of the most significant bruising and swelling. You can return to work and social activities after 2 to 3 weeks. Avoid any very high impact activity such as aerobics; running and even yoga should not be resumed for at least 4 weeks. The inversion poses of yoga can cause swelling and discomfort.
It is important to stay out of the direct sun for at least a week following surgery and longer if possible. If you will be in direct sun, use a high quality sunscreen. Check with the office for recommendations on the best type to use.
FOUR TO SIX WEEKS AFTER FACE SURGERY
You may see irregularities to the skin such as lumpiness and uneven swelling as you heal. The skin may feel tight and your eyes may feel dry. You can apply artificial tears or prescription eye drops to relieve the dryness. The lumpiness and other irregularities will eventually disappear as your body heals and the inflammation resolves.
Inflammation peaks at 4 to 6 weeks. This can seem unusual as patients begin to feel much better after 2 or 3 weeks and then the tightness reappears. All patients go through this healing cycle and the good news is that it is normal. You should move normally and stretch as instructed to help soften the area.
THE FINAL RECOVERY STEP AFTER FACE SURGERY
The full result of your procedure will take several months to emerge. The best approach getting great results from your face surgery is to follow the Cassileth Plastic Surgery instructions carefully. If you have any questions, call the office as we are here to support you throughout your entire recovery period, and beyond!
Day 1 & 2
Receive approval from anesthesiologist to go home.
Maintain supervised care for 24 to 48 hours by a family member, friend or nurse.
Depending on the procedure, you will be wearing a chin strap. This should be left on 24 hours a day and helps minimize swelling.
Apply packs of crushed ice or frozen peas to the surgical site for 20 minutes each hour to minimize swelling for the first 24 to 48 hours.
Avoid exposure to the sun. If exposed, wear sunscreen.
Do not engage in any strenuous physical activity for at least 4 weeks.
Return to the office for your first checkup.
Transition to wearing the chin strap for only 12 hours a day at night to minimize swelling while laying down.
Remember to stay hydrated as drinking lots of water will help with the recovery process.
Weeks 2 & 3
Swelling will reduce significantly.
Return to work and social activities.
Return to normal physical activity, but keep in mind that yoga, running, aerobics and other strenuous activity may cause discomfort and additional swelling, especially inverted yoga poses.
Weeks 4 through 6
Inflammation will peak, even after positive results and reduced swelling in weeks 2 & 3.
Your face will be completely healed. For optimum results, follow all of the Cassileth Plastic Surgery directions as closely as possible.