When someone comes to you to have their face done they may not have a full understanding of everything involved in the procedure, or what it means for post-lift skincare. The fact is that the process of the procedure puts some strain on the skin which is best handled with a routine that is gentle and nourishing. Whether you are the surgeon performing the facelift, a dermatologist treating a patient post-lift, or an aesthetician, it is important to recognize that the best approach to providing post-facelift skincare advice is one that recognizes that facelift faces are different.
The FaceLift Procedure: What To Expect
Otherwise known as a rhytidectomy, this is a surgery in which the face is re-contoured to be more youthful looking.
In a traditional facelift, the surgeon makes an incision in front of the ear, extending up into the hair or hairline as well as behind the ear into the hair-bearing scalp. The surgeon lifts the skin off the deeper facial muscles and fat, gently pulls the skin in an upward and posterior direction, and removes the excess skin. They may tighten the deeper tissues of the face. A small incision, or cut, may be made under the chin to tighten the skin and deeper tissue of the neck. This is known as a neck lift. The incisions are then closed with sutures and possibly staples. A drain may be placed under the skin behind the ear for one or two days, to remove any excess blood and fluids. Bandages are applied. (Source).
A facelift is an invasive procedure and it initially leaves the face very bruised and sore. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons describes the recovery process in the first month. They point out that week 1 is a time to make sure the incision wound is kept clean to prevent infection and that the best course of action is as much rest as possible. By day 6 it should be possible to be up and moving around and doing light housework, but not advisable to spend hours outside the home or doing any hard work. What follows is up to a year of recovery time, in which minor bruising, tightness, numbness and redness that is barely discernible may still be present. As they define it to patients:
- Days 7-14. During this week you’ll likely still have some swelling and bruising around the affected areas. Swelling and bruising can also cause some people to experience some numbness, tingling and tightness. These are all common occurrences after a facelift and should not cause concern. At the end of the second week post-surgery, many people are feeling like themselves and ready to return to work and begin doing light activities like walking.
- Days 15-30. Removal of your sutures may occur anywhere from the end of week one to week three and depend on your particular procedure as well as your healing process. At weeks 3 and 4, you still may have some residual swelling and tightness, but for the most part, will start looking and feeling much better. Here is where patients often begin to see real improvements in their facial contour. By this time, you can get back to exercising and enjoying activities without people noticing much, if any, outward signs of your procedure. Incision sites will have a pinkish-red hue but this should fade with time.
Skincare Immediately Following A Facelift
In the immediate hours and days following a facelift, like any surgery, the focus is on making sure that the wounds heal without risks of extra scarring or complications. As WebMD points out it is the time to “baby your skin… making sure you use mild, hypoallergenic, products… [And] be extra vigilant about sun protection”. The first few days after having a procedure, “it’s best to avoid the direct sun,” says Steven Hopping, MD, president of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery. “If you go out, opt for a sunscreen that blocks alpha and beta rays. SPF 30 or 40 is sufficient — the ones with higher SPF tend to block the pores, so it may be better to steer clear of them… [Also] hydrate.”
As one Beverly Hills surgeon recommends, the products used on the skin in those days, weeks and months following a facelift can make the difference between a good look and a bad one:
There are many excellent products available that will protect your skin and encourage elastin and collagen generation. No one product line is noticeably better than the others, and avoiding purchasing the most expensive products is advisable. I’m currently recommending to my patients the use of… products containing Retinol, Vit C and other antioxidants… Also, be certain to cover your skin with makeup or a moisturizer containing spf 30 sunblock.(Source).
Similar advice continues from those early days on. Afterall, a facelift is an investment so it should be protected like one.
Long Term Skincare to Keep The Face Looking Young
After the scars have faded, the bruising is gone, and the feeling returns to the face it is really important that anyone who has had a facelift be ultra diligent about their skincare routine. Using cleansing products that are gentle and non-irritating is one part of this. The rest of it comes down to making sure that sunscreen is used and that face creams and serums containing the best anti-aging compounds are incorporated into a daily routine, and making sure that exfoliation is gentle enough to not harm the skin. There are serums that can accomplish this, as well as treatments that you can supervise to assure your clients skin stays as youthful and beautiful as you want to see it.