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extreme pain post op, no answers

  • kaytee1
  • San Diego, CA
  • 3 years ago

Hi everyone, I am 8 days post op on smas lower face and neck lift. I also had my upper lids done. Though my surgery went well, I had some complications-- a hematoma in the neck that has been removed, lots of swelling and severe bruising. My doc says it is the worse bruising he has seen but should not effect the outcome, which he is very optomistic will be great. Swelling and bruising get better everyday and my eyes already look great. Problem is the past few days I have developed severe pain at the jaw joint that radiates into the ear and cheek area. No sign of infection or new swelling. I am taking 800 mgs of motrin 3 times a day plus one or two vicoden and still the pain persists.  Everything I have read says necklift pain is minimal but this is not the case for me. I am not the sort of person that usually has a lot of pain and have done fraxel (and if you have ever done that you know how it hurts) and even had my lips done with no local anesthesia. My doc has been great with daily contact, has seen me 3 times post op,  but has no idea what is causing the pain, except that possibly the nerves are already regenerating. The pain is an ache like a migraine, not a sharp pain  It does not hurt to touch.. I can't sleep or function and really am desperate to get out of pain. Anyone else experience this? Monday I go in to have staples removed and a steroid shot but that seems so far away to be suffering like this. I just want to sleep.  

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I am on day 3 of a lower face and neck lift. I did this at age 50 but now I am 65 and it was time. I am very happy with the results so far. I have very little bleeding, the drains collected about 15 cc each. I took arnica Montana and have an elastic wrap to hold my chin up. I am taking Percocet 5/325 for pain and take about one every 4 hours, 2 at night. I take Colace to prevent constipation. All soft foods, including protein drinks and glazed donuts (not so healthy but I love them). So far so good. I loved the shape of my face right away, though I have lots of swelling. Fortunately, the Percocet helps me sleep.
Yeah! My "mini revision" date is all set and I'm ready to go! After over a year of healing it's time to fix the things that are troublesome from my surgery. Actually my doc is sooo fantastic that he is the one that wants to do it more than me! I could live with the issues but he wants it corrected and he's doing it no charge. The man is a true professional who takes pride in his work. So he's fixing my ears by going into the same incision, and then doing lipo and tucking up the skin a bit. I'm having sedation this time instead of a general as the surgery is not nearly as involved. So keep your fingers crossed there is no hematomas this time, and minimal bruising. I'm still stained from last time, and still numb on one side but it is slowly getting better. The ear pain is gone too. Wish me luck ladies, and YES I will rest! This time I'm taking bromalain and arinca 3 days before and of course after, plus got some bio oil.
So good to know that people do eventually get over this ordeal even if it takes 1 year! I'm at 6 months after lower face & neck mini-lift and am having so many issues (appearance is fine but I still feel so tight & numb at times and ear pressure/discomfort are real problems.) You're very brave to do it all over again -- there is no way I will EVER have cosmetic surgery again. Like I told my friend, I don't care if I have skin hanging down to my ankles, it can just stay there! All the best to you with your revision; keep this forum updated on your progress.
It really does get better. If you read through my thread you will see how bad it was at first. At 6 months i felt the way you do. I wouldn't be doing this if i wasn't a bit uneven. Pretty nervous but it is minor surgery compared to what I did before.
Hello Ladies,
Hope all is well. I haven't seen much activity on the site this week. Wondering what is happening.. I had my revision surgery last Monday and I think it went well. Fingers are crossed anyway. I have my stitches taken out tomorrow. Hopefully this time I will not have the same problems with swelling and inflammation that I had behind my right ear before.
I am drinking much more water and watching my diet much more carefully than I did the last time right after the surgery.
What are the updates with all of you lovely ladies?
Hi Illinsf, I just found this forum and I noticed in one of your earlier posts you mentioned ultrasound for tightness. I was just wondering if you actually had it done? If so, who did you go to (a plastic surgeon, physiotherapist, etc?) I cannnot find anyone in my area who offers it. (Pretty surprising given that I live in a large metropolitan area with hundreds of plastic surgeons.) Also, if you did have it done, was it worthwhile?
Based on your earlier posts it seems that you had a really hard time with recovery from the initial surgery . How long did it take you to feel normal (or close to it) after your original surgery? I hope your recovery from the revision surgery continues to go well. All the best.



I so admire your attitude.  You have really been through the "ringer" this year but you have pressed on....kudos!!


Does the suturing around the ears cause "pixie ears"?  Lastly, do you think the swelling and bruising prevent an optimal result?


Thank you for keeping us updated!

I had sort of pixie ears to begin with, but the relaxation after the surgery pulled the ear down. I have some laxity on one side which my doc is going to take care of, which was probably due to the extreme swelling I had. Now that it is gone, a bit of loose skin and little jowl has come back. I'm fortunate to have a doc that sees it and will fix it no charge. The "bruising" is actually staining, so that may be fixed with lasers but I am reluctant to do that.

So yes, I think the bad bruising and swelling set of a set of secondary problems. The only one that can't be fixed is the nerve damage, and I just hope it will get better over time. I just hope nothing goes wrong with this net surgery but doc promises it is very minor compared to the first surgery.

Thanks for the comment and support, means a lot! Will post an update as the surgery gets closer.
Kaytee1... I was trying to privately email you from this site but I couldn't.. I just had surgery and I am 25 days out and my neck is just bruised and swollen. I read your post and my issue sounds very similar. I am so worried this swelling and bruising will never go away.
Just thought I'd update as it has been 9 months...the supposed day when things would be wonderful. Still bruised and lumpy under the neck. and still have the pixie ears. Also nerve has not healed and still hurts to touch. Since I don't entirely trust the downtime for the revision I'll have it done in Dec when i'm off for a month. Just want this over. Revision includes fixing the ears, some lipo and some pulling back of the skin.
he's doing my ears (i have pixie ear) removing some lumps, doing lipo on one side and tightening the skin. The discoloration though and ear problem, nothing he can do, He sugested laser for the discoloration. Hopfully it will go away....seems to be getting better.

Let me know how your laser goes and if it works.
Hi kaytee
What revison work are you having done? I saw my surgeon and he is doing some laser on my pigmentation and broken vessels left after hematoma. Still a lot of discoloration there. Like you, I am pleased with overall result but was also unlucky! Take care x
Saw my doc. I'm having a minor revision at one year. I'm glad he has listened to my concerns and sees what needs to be done. I can't believe i was one of the unlucky few. BTW he thinks the ear nerve issue is permenent as well. I'm still happy i did it though..i look great!
Hello All.. thanks for the information. I've tried a couple of over the counter silicon products, sheets, gel and a brush on.. none with great satisfaction. I'm checking with my doctor this week to see what he can recommend. I've also heard that lavender essential oil is good for this. Is there a particular silicon product/ brand that you have that works well?
Thanks in advance..
Hi illinsf
I had macs lift ten weeks ago and my scars are very red and itchy. My surgeon has given me some silicone gel which a massage on scars twice daily. Already helped loads and it has only been one week. Apparently very normal for scars to look like this for first six months to one massage,get some gel..and be patient!!!
Hello All, Quick question, I'm 4 months out from my surgery. On my right side, the scars behind my ears are now red and inflamed. Had knee surgery on my right knee a few years ago and my right side is always a pain and a bit swollen. Any suggestions on what I could do for the inflamation behind my ears. Red and itchy and uncomfortable and a bit swollen.
Thanks so much in advance..
Surgery was on Dec. 1st...85 days ago. My left side did less well than my right...funny that.I wondered if it had something to do with having had my left side hit 30 years ago when I was on my bike. Or if it was because that's the side my heart is on.
When I wash my face now, post op, I always very gently massage the areas that are still tender, including behind the ear. I am using a natural sea sponge to clean it all off. And when I put my face cream on, I gently massage it into those areas to improve circulation. Plus I have a weekly massage and the therapist does lymphatic drainage. Scars under ear hole are cleared up. Bit lumpy behind the left ear. We have to be patient. The itchiness is the healing. It will pass.
Hi Illinsf, I'm sorry you are in so much pain. I had posted a question on here about pain and one of the docs said nuerontin helps for nerve pain issues. I'm not sure I would want to resort to that. Also physical therapy can help reteach the nerves how to perceive stimulation.

I'm glad you read the thread. I had a smas lift but really I needed it for my neck and would do it again. Also my hair fell out too but am happy to say it came back. That was very scary as I thought I was going to be bald! I'm almost thinking the compression garment was so tight on my head that is why it fell out as I had to wear it for a month!

It sounds like you are doing everything right. I use a clarisonic brush on my neck once a day to increase circulation. It seems to have helped a little but really I think the only cure is time. My doc really doesn't want to do anything until a year has gone by.
Hi all. Had an SMAS 1st December 2011. 63 years old. I had very little bruising or swelling and am really pleased with the outcome. No pain except for the discomfort of the tightness. By the end of the day, the swelling increases especially if I have been on the phone a bit.By morning I'm OK. I am in Toronto and had an amazing surgeon: Sandy Pritchard. He refuses patients if he thinks there will be a poor outcome. Cost $20K but well worth it. I rented a recliner for post operative recovery and was so glad of it as the sutures in the back of my head hurt when I laid on them. I stopped all supplements, including Vit C, 2 weeks prior to the op. Online there are great sites re: natural blood thinners. It's only 2 weeks...I didn't tell my 27 year old, and saw him 9 days after surgery...not a word. I wonder if results vary greatly because of body weight, bone structure, skin etc. If anyone is coming up to surgery, I would suggest getting as close to your ideal weight as possible, getting in shape, eating really well, regular facials to get the skin in tip top shape. Certainly dont do this is you smoke or drink. For me its a once in a life time event.
I thought I did everything right. I am very physically fit, take care of my skin, no smoking, drinking, and cut out all possible thinners. My doc thought I was an ideal candidate as I am very healthy and easily passed the pre-op tests. I will say however, I was under a lot of stress that was beyond my control and wonder if this raised my bp, which of course could cause the hematomas. It is hard to predict what life will through at you.
I think some people are more sensitive to the nerves regenerating. I think the sensory nerves do get damaged and it just takes time to heal. If it makes you feel any better you are not alone. One of my ears is very sensitive after all this time. I try not to focus on it. Also I still feel tight an tingly in my neck and scalp but it is all part of the healing process. Hang in there and know you are not alone! It will heal and get better!

Are you happy with the results? Sometimes it helps to focus on that instead. Another thing that helps is gentle massage. At first it feels like too much but after a while it desensitizes I think.
Thank you so much for the reply and words of encouragement. I'm trying to focus on the results that I am starting to see, but as you know, it can be hard when you are so uncomfortable. The scars on my eyes are healing well and as I said the swelling on my face in going down. My neck still has some swelling and a bit lumpy, but everyone says that will go away as well. My hair loss has slowed down, people have also said losing hair can happen as you body has been through trauma from the surgery.
I think my doctor is very good and don't blame him in anyway about my recovery, just learning how big this is and how people truly heal in many different ways. You always hear the stories of people just fine after a few weeks, and thrilled with everything at 3 months.
I am doing lymphatic massage one to two times per week and I do think that helps also ultrasound treatments as well.
If there is anything else you can think of that I should do as therapy or treatment to help the process. Always open to learning more.
May I ask what type of surgery did you have and how long ago?
Hi Kaytee1,
I finally figured out the posting system here and see you thread and what you have gone through with your surgery back early October. I'm glad to hear you are doing much better.
All the best to you.
It helped me to read your post. I am eight days out from a major face lift and am experiencing a great deal of pain in the back of my head were the staples were and both ears when I lay down. I am continuing to use a firm wedge to elevate my head. So many told me that I should be feeling good by now, I'm doing o.k. as long as I remain upright. It is unfortunate but also reassuring to know that I'm not alone in my nerve pain being very painful. For me, it must have to do with the pressure when lying down. I am starting a new regimen of continuous ibuprofen. And, if needed my PS offered to write an additional prescription for Percocet. How are you doing now, two years post op?
If I might suggest when you go to lay down 2 pillows. The one in the back is like you would be sleeping on it like normal but stand it up against your bed frame. Flip the second pillow where you lean against it it covers you from the head down to you waist. The second slanted slightly if needed. Fortunately I had 2 foam pills which gave me better support. As for the pain I had some pain for 2-3 months after surgery but tolerable. It takes time for the pain and the incisions areas to heal and go away. Remember your nerves were cut through. I occasionally had nerve pain on one side of the face, but the worse part was the numbness lasted well over a year close to two years. I was told by my ps that the nerve may never repair itself. Fortunately mine did. Do you use a wrap around your head? That helps also. I still use mine occasionally for firmness. Just hang in there. Remember you iwent through major surgery and it takes awhile for you body to get over the shock and heal. Everyone is different. If I can help you further please let me know. Take care and remember you will get better!