You’ve spent hours looking at face lift before and after photos, you know what to look for in a qualified plastic surgeon, and you feel confident about your decision to have face lift surgery.
Many of the questions you have about the procedure will likely be answered during your consultation and other pre-op appointments.
Still, there are several steps that you need to take before your surgery to ensure that you’re ready to go — and that your recovery period goes as smoothly as possible.
So, what are some of the most important things you need to do before your surgery date?
From getting your recovery environment ready to making the proper adjustments to your diet, read on to find out the best ways to prepare for your face lift.
1. Prepare Your Recovery Environment
Not only is it unsafe to move around too much and lift things during your face lift recovery period, but it’s also the absolute last thing you’re going to feel like doing.
That’s why it’s so essential that you prepare your surgery recovery environment before your procedure.
First, decide where you’re going to recover (likely your bedroom, living room, or after care facility.) Then, stock up on plenty of pillows, blankets, and entertainment. Plug in any chargers for your electronic devices, and ask your doctor about the best recovery snacks. Pineapple is often wonderful to reduce brusiing and swelling, as well as arnica supplements.
When you pick out pillows, make sure you’ve chosen options that allow you to keep your head elevated.
Be sure you have tons of water on hand. Or better yet, beverages with elecrolyes or fresh juices.
In some cases you should also prepare lots of ice packs and gauze to manage the swelling and properly care for your wounds. In other cases where fat was transferred to the face, Dr. Neavin may not want cooling as it may impact fat cell survical. Each recovery protocol is tailored to the person and surgery.
If prescriptions weren’t filled before hand as they often are, now is also the time to do it. You can also always ask a friend or family member to run to the pharmacy for you if you can’t make it before your surgery. Pharmacies generally accomodate such situations.
2. Secure Transportation and Assistance
You will absolutely need someone to drive you both to and from your face lift surgery. In addition, someone will need to spend the night with you. While it does not have to be a trained health care provider, nurses can be arranged for observation if preferred or indicated.
You should not get behind the wheel not only because you’ll be severely groggy from the anesthesia, but also because you’ll be in pain.
Have your partner or a friend that you trust help you, and consider who will be on hand to take care of you throughout the recovery process. You will need someone who can help with chores, can monitor your swelling and bruising, or simply a friend to keep you company while you recover. You do not want to exert yourself. An increase in blood pressure or heart rate can increase the chances of post operative bleeding.
3. Put Down the Cigarettes
This is perhaps one of the most important steps you need to take in preparation for your face lift surgery.
If you’re a smoker, make sure that you ditch the cigarettes as soon as possible. A good rule of thumb is to stop smoking at four weeks before your scheduled surgery date.
This is essential, as smoking can make it much more difficult to recover quickly and safely. It places an extreme amount of stress on your heart and lungs, and can even make you much more likely to develop blood clots. And, the nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and marijuana may constrict the small blood vessels that feed the skin. This may need to poor healing and open wounds.
In addition, if you continue to smoke right up until surgery, your immune system will be compromised — which means you may more likely to develop an infection during the healing process. You may also be at risk for a higher likelihood of scarring given the compromised blood circulation.
Smoking also complicates the anesthesia process, as it’s hard for your body to tolerate the stress of an anesthetic — potentially even causing high-risk respiratory issues.
4. Stop Taking Certain Medications
We understand that the thought of having to stop taking some of your medications before a face lift can be frightening.
However, remember that this is only a temporary matter, and will help you to avoid serious risks during the surgery itself and the healing process. You should also speak to your medical doctor to ensure they feel that taking a brief pause from your medications is safe. Some medications may not be able to be safeyl stopped without increasing heakth risks. If this is the case, you may not be a suitable candidate for face lift surgery. Thus, Dr. Neavin will take a complete history and ask you to see your primary care doctor for medical clearance. Safety always comes first.
For a minimum of one ten days before surgery, one should stop taking aspirin and/or any other NSAIDs — if it is safe. You will also need to stop any blood-thinning medications as indicated by Dr. Neavin and your primary care doctor.
If you take any herbal supplements, it’s also suggested that you stop using some of them before surgery, including gingko, St. John’s wort, and ginseng. Even vitamin E has been known to increase the risk of bleeding after surgery.
For a more complete list of the medications, you shouldn’t take before elective surgery, click here. Above all, speak to both your medical doctor and your plastic surgeon to be sure you’re on the same page.
5. Reconsider Your Pre-Surgery Diet
If you’re having surgery to reduce face fats or a face lift, you also need to take a hard look at your pre-surgery diet.
The goal here is to find vitamin-rich foods that will help you to have a speedier recovery, and that will also boost your immune system to promote safe healing.
Important vitamins to focus on include zinc, copper, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. You should ask your plastic surgeon about the safety of taking vitamins before your surgery, or you can simply adjust your diet to get more of these nutrients.
You should also seriously increase your protein intake — the ideal amount in a healthy adult is somewhere around 50 grams of protein per day. (After surgery, you may benefit from increasing that.) Protein will help to promote new tissues, increase cell production, and will keep your blood vessels healthy.
Vitamin-rich foods that you should be getting more of before your surgery include leafy greens, sweet potatoes, pistachios, seeds, eggs, and whole grains. Pineapples are rich in the enzyme bromelain which helps reduce swelling and bruising.
Consider this your excuse to try out a few new menu options.
6. Drink More Fluids
Drinking electrolyte rich water is good for you in any situation, but it’s especially vital when you’re preparing for surgery.
Remember that you likely won’t be able to eat or drink on the day of your surgery, so it’s important to up your fluid intake while you still can.
Make it a point to drink at least 6-8 glasses of juices or water each day in the weeks leading up to surgery, and throughout the recovery process.
It’s a wonderful habit to develop, and you may even be able to keep it up after both surgery and recovery are complete.
7. Wear Sunscreen
If you’re not already in the habit of wearing sunscreen on your face every day (yes, even in the winter and indoors) it is incredibly essential that you start right now.
Though you likely won’t be outside too much during the recovery process, you don’t want to run the risk of getting a sunburn before you go in for your procedure.
In fact, if you’re sunburned, you may be forced to delay your surgery date. It’s just not worth the risk.
So wear a hat, lots of sunscreen, and save that trip to a beach for another day. Postoperatively, sunscreen will also reduce the pigmentation in the scar. Generally, SPF of 30 or greater is strong enough to adequately reduce scar darkening. In addition, silicone gels and sheeting can also aid in scar improvement by flattening the scar.
8. Lay off the Alcohol
While alcohol might be able to ease any anxiety you feel before a face lift, drinking is absolutely one of the most dangerous things that you can do. Not only does it weaken your immune system, but it can also interact with anesthesia.
Drinking alcohol may alos affect surgical bleeding, which means that you’re more likely to develop bruising or hematoma during the surgery.
For at least 72 hours before your scheduled surgery date, don’t drink any alcohol at all. We think that this is a great excuse for a detox — and don’t be surprised by how much better you feel after a few days off from drinking.
9. Wash Your Hair
The good thing about preparing for a lower facelift or any other kind of facial procedure?
Not everything has to be complicated.
Make it a point to wash your hair the evening before you go in for your procedure. It’s not just about making sure that your hair is at least somewhat clean during the recovery process (as you’ll need to wait for several days before you can wash your hair after surgery.)
Getting the dirt and oils out of your hair also may make you less likely to develop an infection.
Remember that most surgeons will make incisions close to your hairline, as this makes it much easier to hide any scars that develop as a result of the face lift. You don’t want to run the risk of any bacteria and gunk from your hair getting into those open wounds.
Are You Ready for Face Lift Surgery?
We hope that this post has helped you to feel much more confident about how to prepare for both your face lift surgery and the recovery period afterward.
Above all, you need to be certain that you’ve made the best possible choice when it comes to your cosmetic surgeon. Read patient testimonials, ensure that they have the proper qualifications, and ask about the different types of procedures the surgeon can offer you.
Are you interested in scheduling face lift surgery, or another cosmetic procedure?
If so, then we invite you to reach out to us to schedule a consultation.
We can’t wait to provide you with both expert care and the confidence you’ve always wanted to have.
Dr. Tim Neavin is a board-certified plastic surgeon located in Beverly Hills, California.