Facial Plastic Surgery: Long-Term Care

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Afacelift, or rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure to improve visible signs of aging in the face and neck. Understanding the benefits of surgery, the potential for additional procedures, and lifestyle adjustments before and after surgery is important for the healing process and determining if facial plastic surgery is right for you.

Preparing woman in surgical gown for facelift

Monica Rodriguez / Getty Images

Benefits of Surgery

People seek facial plastic surgery to feel more attractive and confident because the unwanted aging process changes their facial structure. The most significant benefit to facial plastic surgery is to increase self-confidence by decreasing fine lines, lifting brows, and firming the jawlines.

Because facial plastic surgery’s primary benefits are cosmetic, your plastic surgeon must understand your desires and end goals for your appearance. Oftentimes, it is helpful to have a surgeon create a computer image that can illustrate how your facial features might change as a result of the surgery.

While bruising and swelling are quite variable among patients after facial plastic surgery, in the recovery phase your face might look worse before you see the results of the surgery. This may alter your perception of how the surgery went. Stay positive—the results take time to see.

After the procedure, your plastic surgeon will provide you with a list of post-operative instructions which will include wound care, follow-up appointments, and pain management. It is imperative you follow all instructions to ensure proper healing of the incisions.

As with all major surgeries, you will be at risk for postoperative complications. These may include:

Report all abnormal signs and symptoms to your surgeon immediately to reduce additional complications.

Possible Future Surgeries

You might want to undergo additional plastic facial surgery if you are not happy with the results or you want another procedure that was different from the first.

Board-certified facial plastic surgeons will often advise not to have additional facial plastic surgery after the initial procedure. Part of the reason is because of scar tissue, but also depending on the surgical technique the plastic surgeon used, it may be very difficult depending on bone and tissue structure.

Plastic surgeons specializing in “botched” procedures will often perform another facial plastic surgery for a patient, but each case is unique.

Lifestyle Adjustments

While there are no specific lifestyle adjustments after facial plastic surgery, your plastic surgeon will make lifestyle change recommendations prior to surgery. It’s important to continue those changes after surgery to ensure proper healing and minimize the risk of complications.

Drink Water

Drinking plenty of water is essential after facial plastic surgery. It reduces your risk of side effects (like constipation) while on narcotic pain medication and minimizes the risk of infection.

Even after you have completely healed from surgery, maintaining a healthy intake of water will ensure that the results of the facial plastic surgery remain positive. Water intake is associated with skin elasticity. Maintaining adequate water intake allows for the skin to be brighter and reduces the appearance of pores and wrinkles.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults consume an average of 39 ounces of water a day, only 60% of the commonly recommended eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day (64 ounces total).

The Institute of Medicine recommends even more water intake: 2.7 liters per day for women (about 92 ounces) and 3.7 liters per day for men (about 125 ounces).

To help increase your daily water intake, consider these tips:

  • Carry a reusable water bottle.
  • Add lemon or lime to your water.
  • Set a daily achievable goal.
  • Set reminders.
  • Drink one glass of water with every meal.
  • Eat more food with water.

Smoking Cessation

Plastic surgeons will often require patients to quit smoking at least six weeks before surgery and continue to not smoke after the procedure.

Smoking significantly interferes with the body’s ability to oxygenate its blood supply, which can hinder the healing process and cause infections or other complications. Additionally, smoking damages the lungs, which can interfere with anesthesia.

Nicotine replacement therapy and medication can assist your smoking cessation efforts. The American Heart Association has a variety of resources available to you to help quit, including support groups.

Engage in Physical Activity

Physical activity is important for physical and emotional well-being after facial plastic surgery. Once you have received clearance from your plastic surgeon, try to engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a day.

Moderate intensity is defined as an activity strenuous enough to raise your heart rate and have you breathing harder.

Examples include:

  • Mowing the lawn
  • Playing tennis
  • Hiking
  • Power walking
  • Bicycling on a flat surface

Most plastic surgeons recommend waiting a minimum of three weeks to resume activity because of the risk of forming a hematoma in the face due to increasing your blood pressure during physical exercise.

A Word From Verywell

Facial plastic surgery is the most common and one of the most popular plastic surgeries performed in the United States. While it is an elective procedure, the benefits of facial plastic surgery can help improve your self-confidence, self-worth, and appearance.

This procedure changes your outward appearance and it is often difficult to “re-do” the surgery if unhappy with the results. It’s important to remember that the healing process takes time, and often the results are not immediate.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. McCollough EG, Perkins S, Thomas JR. Facelift: panel discussion, controversies, and techniques. Facial Plast Surg Clin North Am. 2012;20(3):279-325. doi:10.1016/j.fsc.2012.02.001

  2. University of Wisconsin Madison School of Public Health. The benefits of drinking water for your skin.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Get the facts: drinking water and intake.

  4. Institute of Medicine. 2005. Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi:10.17226/10925

  5. Theocharidis V, Economopoulos KP. Smoking cessation prior to elective plastic surgery: why, when and how? Tobacco Induced Diseases. 2014;12(Suppl 1):A18. doi:10.1186/1617-9625-12-S1-A18

  6. American Heart Association. Help I want to quit smoking.

  7. Improta R. Your facelift recovery explained from day 1 to day 30. American Society of Plastic Surgery.

By Kathleen Gaines, MSN, RN, CBC
Kathleen Gaines, MSN, RN, CBC, is a nurse and health journalist, as well as an adjunct clinical faculty member at hospitals in the Philadelphia area.