Dr. Patti Flint

Maintaining Results after your Facelift

The most important factor in terms of getting optimal results after a facelift is the skill and experience of your surgeon. But, believe it or not, the second most important factor is you.

Even if you have chosen your surgeon wisely— a plastic surgeon board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, with a great deal of experience (10+ years) in performing your desired procedure— what you do after facelift surgery is also crucial to your long-term results.

How you handle your post-operative care and lifestyle after your surgery can be the difference between longer-lasting results or something else.

Here are some instructions that I give to my patients to help them maintain their results after facial cosmetic surgery:

● I have my patients stay in my overnight care facility the first night after their face lift so that my experienced and highly trained nursing professionals can keep a close eye on you, making sure you are comfortable. I am then able to see you very early the next morning, remove your bandages and make sure all is well before discharging you to rest at home. Plan on staying home and resting for the first few days.

● Clean your suture lines. Wash your suture lines twice a day with baby shampoo. This will help reduce bacterial counts and help keep the area free of infection. Sutures are selectively removed by me based on how you are healing. I start removing them around post-operative day five or six, and all are generally removed by post-operative day ten to twelve.

● No exercise for three weeks. You will definitely be feeling and looking better a week or two after your surgery, but you’re still not entirely healed. Any kind of straining or lifting can compromise your results and lead to bleeding or excessive scarring. Please do not attempt any exercise (not even walking for exercise) until I’ve cleared you for it, usually around the three-week mark.

● No makeup. Wait until I’ve cleared you before applying makeup. Most visible bruising and swelling is gone two to three weeks after surgery. If you are concerned about looking your best for an important day or event, it’s best to schedule your facial surgery at least six to eight weeks before the special date. Facelift results continue to improve subtly over the next 6 months.

After any procedure, you will be given instructions on your homecare, but should you have any questions about anything you see or feel that concerns you, we encourage you to call my office.

I design a skin care regimen for each of my facial plastic surgery patients. The products I provide are medical grade, and scientifically proven to slow aging, prevent skin cancer and improve skin appearance. There is no doubt people who adhere to high quality skin care regimens overseen by their surgeons improve the longevity of their surgical result.
At the top of my list are the following recommendations:

Use sunscreen. Not only is the sun damaging to the skin in general, but vulnerable incision lines, scars, and recently-altered facial structures are even more at risk. Wear a hat and use a strong sunscreen (UVA and UVB blocking) every time you are out in the sun. On days when you don’t expect to be out in the sun for long periods, you should still use some type of sunscreen. In fact, sunscreen should be part of your regular skin care regimen every day of the year. We carry Skinceuticals, at my office, a medical grade skincare line that offers high quality products for daily skincare, anti-aging, sun protection, and more. The better you care for your skin post-surgery, the better you can look over time.

Just because you have plastic surgery on your face doesn’t mean you aren’t still susceptible to the effects of your environment and lifestyle. If you want your results to be maximized, you have to take care of your whole self. Here are a few ways to do that:

● Don’t smoke. If you quit smoking in advance of your facelift, “stay quit!” You probably know most of the reasons why you should, but if you’ve had facial plastic surgery, you can add another reason to the list: it will ruin your results. Smoking interferes with healing, and how you heal affects how your face will look after surgery. Smoking also causes premature aging. The toxins in cigarettes damage collagen and elastin, and cause wrinkles. In short, smoking sabotages your surgical results— and worse.

● Eat healthily. The nutrients you ingest from food feed your entire body, including your skin. Eating fresh whole foods cooked at home rather than fast or processed food will support your new facial structures and skin as well as aid in healing. Omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in fatty fish, can reduce inflammation and are a great source of Vitamin E. They also can help keep skin supple and moisturized. The zinc also found in fatty fish can aid in healing. The healthy fats in avocados have also been found to support healthy skin. Protein is important for scar recovery: lean meats, fish, and beans are often a good option. Vitamin C supports collagen production— you can get that from many different sources.

● Exercise and self-care. Believe it or not, stress can cause collagen to break down, especially taking a toll on the face. A regular exercise program can help keep the stress levels lower and the “stress hormone” cortisol in check.

In summary, following post-operative instructions, using sunscreen regularly and continuing to live a healthy lifestyle (or adopting a healthier one) is a good thing not only for plastic surgery outcomes—but for your overall well-being. Take it from me, plastic surgeons love to see how happy patients are after surgery, but we love it even more when those same patients look as terrific and are equally as happy and healthy in the years to follow.

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