Plastic Surgery Blog from Cincinnati, Ohio for Women across the United States
Our Cincinnati plastic surgeons are committed to educating you about facelifts and other plastic surgery procedures. If you are considering a facelift, you will want to know what to do to minimize swelling and speed your recovery. Two people having the same operation can have very different experiences through the recovery process. Your genetics, health conditions, medications, supplements, diet and activity level all contribute to how quickly you heal. We cannot change your genetics, but we can maximize the other factors to get you back out there with your more youthful look ASAP.
Certain medications make you more likely to bleed and bruise. Aspirin and ibuprofen are the most common offenders. If you are taking these or any other blood thinners, let your plastic surgeon know at your consultation. If you were prescribed these medications by another physician, you should not stop taking them without checking.
Herbal and vitamin supplements are very common these days. Many have benefits and are worth taking. However, some may cause more bleeding, bruising and swelling around the time of surgery. Fish oil and flaxseed oil can be great for your heart, but can make bruising and bleeding much worse. You should stop them at least three weeks before surgery and restart three weeks after surgery. Be sure to tell your plastic surgeon about any supplements you take, even if they are herbal or natural.
Diet can dramatically affect wound healing. It is very important to have a healthy diet in the weeks before and after surgery. In particular, protein is crucial for proper wound healing. Some plastic surgeons recommend up to 120 grams of protein per day divided into five to six smaller meals throughout the day. Protein shakes can help with this. Many products out there have a lot of sugar or fat to make them taste better. Be sure to get a product that is mostly protein, without excess carbs or fat. Good protein shakes have about 18 to 20 grams of protein per 100 calories. Six small shakes spaced 2-3 hours apart will provide all the necessary protein for healing. Start this a week before surgery and continue for 2 weeks after surgery. In my experience, patients who get plenty of protein have more energy, heal faster, have fewer complications and swell less.
Activity after surgery can affect swelling. First, it is important to RELAX before and after surgery. Stress and anxiety increase cortisol levels. This negatively affects wound healing and increases swelling. Focus on clearing your mind and relaxing in the days prior to surgery and the weeks after. The mind definitely affects the body! Gather books, movies and magazines to occupy yourself during recovery. Avoid people that stress you out—especially the naysayers who are less than supportive about plastic surgery. Remember, this is for you, not for them.
Be sure to keep your head elevated at least 45 degrees after surgery. You should continue this for 2-3 weeks after surgery to minimize swelling. Icing is also very important. Fill bags with cool water and add a few ice cubes. This should be very cool, but not cold. Your face will be numb at first, so you may not feel if things get too cold. Rotate icing 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off while you are awake for the first few days.
Certain supplements help with swelling, inflammation and bruising. One of the best is arnica. It is an herbal product that comes in pill and topical forms. You may start applying the topical form to your face twice a day for two weeks prior to surgery and after surgery until your swelling and bruising have resolved. The pill form can generally be taken after surgery. Ask your plastic surgeon before using these products.
Surgery is just the beginning. We believe in focusing on helping you through the recovery process to make the transition to your rejuvenated appearance as easy as possible. Further informational tips about facelift are available at this link. Our blogs, Let’s face It and Facelift 101 are also great resources. Contact our Cincinnati plastic surgeons for more information or to set up a consultation.