When you leave the doctor's office, your face will be bandaged. You'll feel groggy, but there is usually little pain. The bandage needs to remain on until you return to the doctor's office, the next day. At this point, the doctor will be checking to see if there has been any bleeding under the skin, clotting or excessive swelling (if you've also had a laser peel, see chapter 6 for information on laser peel recovery). Postoperative pain isn't usually a big issue with traditionalfacelifts, but the doctor should supply appropriate medication. If a deeper facelift was performed, there may be more pain and a much longer period of swelling.
The stitches in front of the ear can be removed in about five days; those in the hairline and behind the ear typically after 12-14 days. Hair coloring should be postponed for three weeks. The incision line really isn't very visible on most people because their hair covers it, and it may be artfully concealed in the creases around the ears. While spread or thick scars are common behind the ears, these are usually covered by the ear and hair, and can be treated with injection or more surgery if desired. You may experience bruising around the incision area, and possibly around the eyes and chin. This occurs because the skin has been manipulated, and bruising is normal. Many patients getting the simpler facelifts have modest or no bruising. Bruising may last several weeks, or be almost unnoticeable.
Most patients are very satisfied with the results of their facelift. However, patients undergoing a facelift do face a variety of risks, with minor to very serious implications. These complications include, but are not limited to, motor nerve cut (with paralysis of part of the face), infection, bleeding, skin death (especially for smokers, diabetics, and vegetarians), numbness, hair loss, deformities of the earlobe, scar formation, pain, suture or staple retention, fluid collection, blood clots (in lung, legs, or face), or even death. Because these risks, though unlikely, can be so profound, it is important to discuss them with your surgeon before deciding whether or not a facelift is appropriate for you.
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