Woman pinching her cheek

A traditional facelift remains one of the most popular forms of cosmetic surgery to reverse signs of aging and smooth and tighten skin in the face and neck. While a facelift does not change your fundamental appearance, it can dramatically reduce issues like wrinkles and sagging skin.

Facelifts have been around for a long time and are considered a very safe procedure. However, it is normal to have questions when going into any surgery. Proper preparation is among the best means to avoid complications and ensure a successful operation followed by a smooth recovery.

If you are considering a traditional facelift, below we will go over what to do leading up to your appointment. 

Your Consultation

As with any other plastic surgery, the first step is a consultation. This ensures you are a good candidate for a facelift and the procedure can realistically meet your goals.

During your consultation, you will:

  • Discuss the changes you wish to make
  • Review your full medical history, including any current conditions
  • Review your current medication
  • Discuss your expectations for surgery and desired final results
  • Discuss the procedure, including preparation and recovery.

Come to your consultation with any questions prepared. Your surgeon should be able to address any concerns you may have.

You should also be prepared to take notes. Leading up to your facelift, you should follow all your surgeon’s instructions closely to avoid potential complications.

Preparation For Traditional Facelift: The Weeks Before Your Surgery

Preparation time will vary from patient to patient depending on your specific health and lifestyle. Some patients will have to do very little to prepare, while others may need to make significant changes before safely undergoing surgery.

Smokers need to quit at least six weeks prior to surgery and preferably refrain from smoking long-term. Smoking increases your risk of complications, and can also lead to premature wrinkling, making it less likely you will maintain results.

It is also important to have medical clearance before your procedure to ensure you are healthy enough to undergo a facelift. The motto of the medical profession applies here as in any procedure “First do no harm.”

Your surgeon may adjust your dosage of certain medications and advise you avoid specific over-the-counter medications. Aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and herbal supplements can all increase your risk of bleeding and bruising.

Preparation: The Day Of Your Surgery

Everyone’s experience will be slightly different, so talk to your surgeon closely about how you should prepare. Your surgeon will likely advise you to stop eating and drinking for a set period of time before your surgery.

Wear a loose-fitting top that is comfortable to take on and off on the day of surgery. The treatment area will be sensitive post-surgery, and a tight-fitting top can rub against your face, causing pain and even inhibiting healing.

The procedure itself should take two to six hours, depending on exactly which constellation of procedures you are having, although you will likely wait for some time after surgery before being discharged. Make sure to arrange for someone to pick you up and take you home.

What Happens After A Facelift?

Directly after surgery, most patients have bandages placed around their faces to reduce swelling and control bruising. You may also have drainage tubes put in place to drain excess blood or fluid. These can be removed within a day or two.

Your surgeon will provide guidance on how to care for dressings and drains. They will also go over any medication – like antibiotics and painkillers – you will need to take. Make sure to ask questions if you do not understand something. Following post-surgical care instructions is one of the best ways to avoid complications.

Swelling and bruising should subside within 10 to 14 days, but it can take two or three months for your face to feel normal again in terms of texture, tightness, and sensation. The final result of a facelift procedure may take up to 6 to 12 months to appreciate.

Are There Potential Complications?

Every plastic surgery carries some risk of complications, but risks with a facelift are very low overall.

Some patients may experience mild issues like moderate pain, numbness, swelling, or drainage from the incisions. These complications usually pass on their own, but may require medication or follow-up treatment.

In rare cases, more serious complications can occur. Contact a doctor if you experience severe pain, shortness of breath, chest pain, or an irregular heartbeat. Other rare but possible complications may include nerve injury and tissue loss/delayed healing. Thankfully, should these complications occur, they will often resolve with conservative management.

Preparation For Traditional Facelift: The Bottom Line 

Preparation for a facelift is important both to ensure the best results and to avoid complications. While preparation can sometimes entail major lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, it is usually a fairly straightforward process. Following all instructions closely is important for your safety and the success of the procedure.

Ready to get started? Leif Rogers is an Ivy League-educated, board-certified plastic surgeon and a standing member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. If you’re considering a facelift, get in touch with his team to schedule a consultation.

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