Face Lift » Post operative face lift questions and concerns. When to have the doctor paged after hours.

Face lift concerns and questions. When to have the doctor paged.

This is probably your first time with face lift surgery and you may have a few concerns. Here are some common concerns after surgery. In most cases, these concerns can wait until regular office hours but sometimes it’s best to call the office and have the doctor paged.

Swelling: It is normal to have swelling for a couple of weeks after surgery. Swelling often peaks at about 2 days after surgery and then starts getting better. If your swelling has been gradual and if it involves both sides, it is likely not a serious problem. Have you been over active? If so, get some rest. Cold packs will also likely help.

If you have the sudden onset of swelling or if you have a lot more swelling one one side than the other, this may indicate a bleeding problem. Give the office a call at (206) 467-1101.

One more thing about swelling: It takes up to six months for the swelling to totally resolve. Usually this residual swelling is very subtle.  You and I will be aware of it but casual observers will not.

Incision issues: It’s normal for incisions to be tender and red for a couple of weeks after surgery. It is also normal for there to be a ridge along the incision. This is called a “healing ridge” and is caused by collagen accumulating as the incision heals. It’s also normal for there to be a little seepage from incisions for the first few days after surgery.  Also, itching is part of healing.  If the itching is really a bother, it’s okay to take some over the counter Benedryl.

If your incisions are getting more tender and more red as the days pass or if there is persistent drainage, it may indicate a problem.  If there is a tiny opening in the incision and some drainage, it is likely a spitting stitch. Some warm, moist compresses may help. This will likely require an office visit. Call to schedule an appointment during clinic hours. If the tenderness and redness is accompanied by fever or chills, you should have the doctor paged. Call (206) 467-1101.

Medication issues:  It is common to have nausea if pain medication is taken on an empty stomach.  Make sure you have something light to eat when you take your pain meds.  It also common to have some mild itching with pain medication.  This is caused by histamine release and can be treated with an over-the-counter antihistamine like Benadryl.  A rash or hives could indicated an allergic reaction.  If this happens, quit taking the suspected medication and call the office.  If the pain medication is making you constipated, get on an over the counter stool softener and drink some prune juice.  Really.  Prune juice works very, very well.

Facial asymmetry:  Sometimes the nerves that control facial movement are stretched or bruised with face lift surgery.  This can result in a crooked smile or uneven forehead wrinkles.  This is not an emergency and almost always resolves after a few day or a few weeks.  If you are concerned about his, call the office at (206) 467-1101 during regular business hours to speak with the doctor or to set up an appointment.

Post-operative depression:  It is not unusual to be a little down in the dumps the first few weeks after surgery.  There are several reasons for this:  Your face hurts, you look bruised and swollen, you are hiding out and avoiding most social contact, you are not exercising, you are worried about healing, and you may be thinking you made a big mistake.  Hopefully, I remembered to warn you about this prior to surgery.  Do not despair.  It will all get better.  It just takes a little time.  Try to keep busy with easy tasks, listen to some relaxing music, take a warm (not too warm) bubble bath.   And stay away from the Internet and all the disinformation to be found there!  And don’t hesitate to call me.  I’m good at giving pep talks.

I hope this helps!