Today was my post-op appointment to have sutures removed and generally have the doc check me out. I walked to and from the doc's office -- about a mile all told, which should by rights be nothing but still felt like an accomplishment!
I went in with a very long written list of questions so I'll start with what I learned:
1. Is all this swelling under my chin and on my neck normal? Is it going to just stretch everything out so I am back to turkey wattle? What's with the lumps behind my ears, are they from the drain? -- ANSWER: normal swelling. Unfortunately everybody is different about how long it takes to subside, so we can't say when it will go away, but everything looks totally fine. No, it will not stretch back out into a new turkey wattle. The fact that one side (for me, the left) is more swollen than the other is very common. The weird lumps and bumps on the neck are mostly due to the short-scar procedure rather than the drain, and will settle down and flatten out over time.
2. I've had a bit more pain around my ears the last 8 hours. Is that because the nerves are starting to heal, or is something wrong? ANSWER: yes, the nerves are healing; no, there is nothing wrong.
3. Is it possible to sleep too much or should I just nap when I feel like it? ANSWER: sleep all you want. Sleep is healing.
4. I should still be trying not to move my face much for the next week, right? No smiling, animated expressions, etc? ANSWER: keeping your face as still as possible through the next week will give you the best result. Similarly don't floss your teeth, yawn widely, etc. for another couple of weeks. If it feels OK to you it is now fine to turn your head about 45 degrees to left or right, but no more than that, and if you can keep looking straight ahead for another week so much the better. And keep sleeping propped up and no bending over!
5. Do I really have to wear the compression stockings for another week? ANSWER: not necessarily if you are up and moving around, but it doesn't hurt.
6. When can I wash my face? Can I use my Clarisonic again? ANSWER: you can wash your face gently with Cetaphil if you feel the need, but it is actually better still to do nothing in week 2. Wait until at *least* 2 weeks after surgery to use a Clarisonic and if it doesn't feel right, stop immediately. Basic rule -- if something doesn't feel right, stop.
7. Do I need to have my head supported when reclining / sitting? Or is sitting up (e.g. at a desk chair, working at a computer) all right? ANSWER: It's all right to sit up, but you may be more comfortable for a while yet with more support. Don't push yourself.
8. I normally watch what I eat very carefully. For this first week after surgery I set that aside and just ate what I could to make 3-4 meals/snacks a day (not just soup, scrambled eggs, and applesauce but Ensure, yogurt, peanut butter, ice cream, chocolate... I fear I will be one of the few people who actually gains weight in the first week post surgery). Is it OK for me to go back to my normal calorie intake now, headed into the second week? ANSWER: yes, but make sure you eat extra protein.
9. Is it reasonable to target about half my normal exercise level as a goal in the second week? ANSWER: sure, give it a try, but listen to your body.
10. Do I have to wear a face bra now? ANSWER: it should help with the swelling. Here it is -- wear it as much as you can when you are not out and about, take it off if it starts to drive you nuts.
11. How should I care for the incisions? ANSWER: Up till now we wanted you to just leave them alone. Now that we're taking the stitches out, it can't hurt and might help to put on a thin layer of Bacitracin morning and night.
12. I go home tomorrow... what precautions should I take with my pets? ANSWER: Pet hair and dander can cause infections of the wounds. Keep pets away from your face. Wash your hands well after touching your pets, their toys, etc. Use a clean pillowcase each night. Keep your face bra clean.
13. What should I have asked that I'm not asking? ANSWER: Can't think of anything but call any time.
Anyhow, the nurse took out the clips in my scalp, the sutures in front of my ears and under my chin. The ones behind my ears are dissolvable and may take a while to finally dissolve. Wish my hair was longer!!
The nurse also checked out the TCA peel under my eyes and carefully removed the last of the dead skin so I guess I am all done with that. Whew. It was not a deep peel so that went quicker than what many others have experienced.
Both nurse and doc say my result will be very good. (Of course what are they going to say, unless they saw a big problem that definitely needed fixing right away... but I will try to take them at "face value". By the way this whole experience makes me realize that movie "Face Off" was far more ridiculous than I ever could have guessed, even though I did in fact guess it was massively ridiculous.)
I do feel like the swelling under the chin is a teeny bit better than yesterday and the bruising a bit less noticeable. Little baby steps.
Next official appointment with the doc won't happen for about a month, though they welcome me to come in or call any time.
Oh I almost forgot the important but *really gross* thing I learned today (discovered all by myself, not at the doctor's office). Since the first day I had been feeling my ears were clogged but assumed that was just numbness & swelling. Well this evening I had kind of an itch in my left ear canal -- not near the incisions -- and (sorry, but here it comes) I pulled out a plug of dried blood about the size of a black-eyed pea. EWWW. I checked, as you might imagine, to make sure there was no new bleeding and there wasn't -- the thing must have been left over from the surgery itself or the day 1-2 ickiness. Now it's gone I can hear again in my left ear -- hallelujah! There may however be an evil twin lurking in my right ear... will rinse with some ear drops when I get home tomorrow. Sorry for the yucky story but I hope it might help someone else.