Facelift preparation primarily aims to prevent or at least reduce risk of complications, and thus allow the patient to achieve optimal results from surgery. Sometimes, it entails waiting until one has controlled certain medical conditions (e.g., hypertension and obesity) before going under the knife.
Inland Empire plastic surgery expert Dr. Tarick Smiley has explained the generally agreed upon guidelines on facelift preparation.
- Control medical condition prior to surgery
Patients with medical conditions known to increase the risk of healing problems are poor candidates for any type of plastic surgery such as facelift until these are controlled through medications, diet, weight loss, and/or lifestyle change.
Hence, it is of utmost importance to notify the surgeon if one has medical conditions no matter how seemingly simple or innocuous they seem. Previous surgeries, past and current medications, use of supplements, and smoking should also be disclosed to prevent risk of complications.
- Discontinue drugs known to inhibit healing
Some drugs and nutritional supplements are known to increase bleeding, interfere with anesthesia and painkillers, or cause cardiovascular disturbance. In general, these must be discontinued at least two weeks prior to surgery, and two weeks afterward or until most of the postop bruising has subsided.
Aspirin, ibuprofen, birth control pills, and a gamut of supplements including ginger, green tea, ginkgo biloba, kava kava, St. John’s wort, and ginseng are known to cause increased bleeding.
- Discontinue smoking and avoid second-hand smoke
While the general rule of thumb is to avoid tobacco products and second-hand smoke for a minimum of three weeks prior to surgery, some doctors are stricter that they require patients to discontinue them for a few months to ensure their “full commitment.” During the initial healing stage, i.e., 2-3 weeks postop, nicotine is best avoided as it is causes the blood vessels to shrink, inhibiting the oxygen-rich blood from effectively reaching the wound.
While sticking to a diet rich in micronutrients, i.e., vitamins and minerals, is the “universal” guideline, some doctors feel that increasing protein intake can also improve healing as it plays a critical role in tissue repair.
Meanwhile, it is best to avoid or at least minimize the consumption of salty, sugary, and highly processed foods because they suppress the immune function and aggravate postop swelling.
- Skin care regimen
While many surgeons do not recommend specific or special skin care regimen, they all agree that using sunscreen prior to surgery can improve skin healing. It is important to note that excessive sun exposure can make the skin extra sensitive.
Others require mild glycolic acid and Retin-A treatment a month prior to facelift to promote collagen grown in the skin.