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How Should You Sleep and Take Care of Your Skin After a Facelift?

What would you recommend for the best position to sleep in AFTER (post op) surgery? Also, what skin care regime would you recommend pre and post op?

Thanks to all you wonderful MD's who take the time to answer our questions.

Doctor Answers 22

Postoperative Facelift Care

Good postoperative care is generally a continuation of the good habits you started before surgery. We begin skin care well in advance of facelift surgery and continue it postoperatively. What this care is depends on how much damage is present. We usually use the Obagi® Nu-Derm System for severe damage or the Epionce® System for lesser changes. Both reduce the brown spots, remove the thickened outer dead cell layer and firm the skin.

You should also continue the other good lifestyle habits from before surgery, like use of good vitamins, good diet, not smoking and, after a few days, moderate exercise. As far as sleeping and other specific things you can do, you should keep your head elevated as much as possible. While sleeping, you should sleep on your back and use only a neck roll or a contour pillow, keeping your chin up and the front of your neck stretched. You can generally shower immediately after the surgery, but should be careful not to rub downward.

You should wash the incisions gently to remove any old blood or crusts. Until these incisions are well healed, we also recommend application of an antibiotic ointment several times a day. We give our patients a written instruction sheet that answers almost all these questions. I would ask your doctor for the same.

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Skin Care before and After a Facelift.


There is some evidence that using Retin-A and vitamin C will help prepare and maintain your skin before and after a facelift. Also sleeping on several pillows up to 3 weeks after a facelift will help with the swelling.



Oleh Slupchynskyj, MD, FACS
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 224 reviews

Treatment of the skin and incisions after surgery with Melarase creams Melarase AM and Melarase PM

Sleep with your head elevated above the level of the heart and make sure you do not damage the incision line during sleep. I recommend the Melarase AM and Melarase PM creams for healed incisions and face care after a facelift or surgery to improve results and the quality of the skin. 

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

Facelift and Post-op Skin care - Toronto Plastic Surgeon's experience

Best position right after a facelift is head elevated 30 degrees, to allow some of the post-op swelling to go down and minimizing bruising.  Head position should be straight and neck extended slightly.  The facelift garment should help in keeping this position.  Skin care should be the continuation of pre-op skin regime:  in my clinic VISAGE in Toronto, all my patients go on OBAGI skin care or his ZO line, and some vitamin A, prescribed.  This is continued over time.  At some point, some mild form of Erbium resurfacing, or profraction, might be recommended.  Best of luck!  Dr. Marc DuPere

Marc DuPere, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Post op care for facelift

Immediately after facelift it is important to sleep with your head elevated to help prevent venous congestion in the operated tissues and to help prevent swelling. As the healing continues, you can start a skin care regimen. I agree that Retin-A is one of the best and easiest approaches to skin care. Good luck with your surgery.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 63 reviews

Brief pre and post face lift care recommendations and sleeping positions

The use of Retin-A may seem old fashioned but it remains at the forefront of the most effective skin care regimens in minimizing and actually reversing the effects of aging. This in combination with avoidance of tobacco products and sun exposure with sunscreen/sunblock, and a well balanced diet and exercise regimen are the mainstays of skin care maintenance. Nutritional supplements as well as topical and oral antioxidants are probably next on the list.\

In the early postoperative period, the best position to sleep is on your back with the head of the bed elevated without a pillow. The pillow can kink your neck vessels and actually cause more swelling particulary when a dressing is in place. Your head should be elevated to the point that your neck or facial veins are not distended (approximately 30-45 degrees).

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

Best Sleeping Position after Facelift

Sleeping in a reclining chair is the best position with your chin up by using a U shaped airplane pillow works best in my practice. See the below link for addtional suggestions for a fast recovery including skin care.

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 61 reviews

Sleeping & Recovery Following Facelift

We generally recommend that patients sleep on their back with their heads elevated 30 degrees for approximately two weeks following surgery.  This is most easily accomplished in a recliner chair without the use of a pillow.  This maneuver minimizes swelling, bruising and venous congestion in the post-operative period.  It also makes patients more comfortable following surgery.

In the immediate post-operative period patients are instructed to apply bacitracin ointment to the wound.  This is followed by the Obagi skin care program when wounds have healed adequately.

Skincare After Facelift

Optimal skincare is to wait 3-4 weeks before you resume any post operative skincare, including medical grade skin care regimen of sunscreen, pigment controllers, and Retinols.

Rod J. Rohrich, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Facelift and Post-operative Skin Care?

Sleeping on your back with your head elevated at least 30 degrees for 3 weeks after surgery, with the face not turned, will help diminish swelling. There are numerous contoured pillows to help maintain this position.

Every patient is different and so is their ideal skin care regimen. It should be individualized to address the issues with their skin. Most would recommend sunscreen, limiting sun exposure, and Retin-A pre and post-op. Other beneficial products should be recommended by the plastic surgeon and his or her aesthetician only after an in person consultation and evaluation.

Robert Singer, MD FACS

La Jolla, California

Robert Singer, MD
La Jolla Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.