The truth is, the most difficult part of recovery from facelift surgery is not actually the pain, which is fairly manageable, but the social downtime.
It is important to note that social recovery from facelift varies significantly from patient to patient due to factors such as individual healing, predisposition to bruising and swelling, type of surgery and use of ancillary procedures, and quality of postop care.
Inland Empire plastic surgery expert Dr. Tarick Smiley explains some of the most pertinent issues involving social recovery from facelift.
- Advance planning is critical
Patients who are planning for a big social event (e.g., wedding) are generally advised to have their surgery performed 1-2 months earlier just to be on the safe side. But for individuals who do not mind being seen with some mild “outward symptoms”, which can be easily hidden by camouflage make-up, a 1-2 week social recovery will generally suffice.
- Going back to work
Some patients are able to return work (only desk job) after a week or so after surgery, although most will need at least two weeks before they look “presentable.”
- Camouflage make-up
After 1-2 weeks postop, most patients can use camouflage make-up to hide the bruising and swelling and some discoloration around the edge of the incision that remains on the face and/or neck.
- Winter might be a good way to schedule one’s surgery
The bulkier ensembles worn in cold weather (e.g., turtle neck tops and scarves) can make it easier to hide the outward signs of facelift. Furthermore, winter coincides with longer holiday season (Christmas and New Year), allowing the patient to have a longer time off.
- Avoid strenuous activities for a minimum of three weeks
While most patients already look presentable in 1-2 weeks postop, it remains important to avoid rigorous activities and heavy lifting for a minimum of three weeks because increase in blood pressure and heart rate can aggravate the swelling and bruising, which of course leads to longer social recovery from facelift.
- Control risk factors linked to increased swelling and bruising
Smoking, aspirin, hypertension (or any other types of medical condition linked to higher risk of bleeding), and strenuous activities before complete healing can lead to increased swelling and bruising and thus longer social recovery.
Meanwhile, head elevation, superb diet (low sodium, high protein, and more fresh fruits and vegetables), good hydration, and light activities (walking instead of bed rest) can help promote healing.