Facelift Advice From Eleven Days Out - Washington, DC

I am a 57-year-old, 112 lbs/5'5" in good health...

I am a 57-year-old, 112 lbs/5'5" in good health and I run (before the surgery) 2 miles most mornings and do a small bit of weight work each night. So I thought the facelift recovery would be fairly smooth, as was my Blepharoplasty two years ago. Specifically, my recent procedure was: Platysmaplasty with Submental Lipectomy and an S-lift.

In retrospect I learned some things I'd like to share.
First, you absolutely should sleep on your back with your head above your heart at least for two weeks. I was so glad I had a zero-gravity recliner with electric tilting, which cost close to $3K but I have always craved one. If you don't want that expense, you can get the bed wedges at the healthy back store. A friend did not follow this advice and her ears still hurt a year out. Second, I recommend having a nurse for the first night at least. You need to keep the face constantly cooled with ice packs and/or cold compresses so that's a lot to ask of an already freaked-out husband. Your assistant must be prepared for contingencies, like when I started vomiting from the pain meds that I didn't know I have an allergy to, or when the icemaker got jammed in the middle of the night. Third, and this I only just learned two days ago. Swelling is a constant problem and the steroid pack didn't seem to help me much. Ice packs worked while they were on but you can't keep that up steadily for days on end. Suddenly two days ago I read that the body has to absorb the fluid. It seems counterintuitive but once I started drinking lots of water, like a cup or so every 40 mins, I started improving more rapidly. Maybe it would have happened anyway but I credit the water.
Finally, if you don't like to touch dead-fish skin (I could not bear it), get yourself a spray moisturizer that really atomizes the cream so you don't have to spread it with your hand. Keep the skin moisturized.



A friend who had this surgery with the

Day 13 update

Skin still dead-fish, gradually (sooo slowly) getting more feeling in face and chin. Started back running this morning, at a slightly reduced pace, but could have run full out. Just didn't feel like it. I'm going to try a super-gentle electric face brush to clean and moisturize the dead-fish skin. I just can't bring myself to touch it even though the doctor recommended massaging it. Unfortunately I am coming down with a cold (that's why I started running early, hoping to head off the cold.)

Sad

Well, it's the two-week point and I'm really depressed. I had attributed the puffiness behind the chin incision to swelling, but now that puffiness is descending into a double chin, with a tight garrot where the chin line meets the neck. It feels awful too, because the chin line skin rubs against the neck skin when I look down. I will go see the doctor but I imagine he'll propose some minor fix but the fact is the surgery traded one problem for another, and turned my family life upside down.

14-day mark

Note the photo from yesterday afternoon.

Photo showing my new double chin

17 days out. Considering next steps.

Thank you all for your comments, they have been very helpful. I am in conversation with the surgeon. The specific problem I have is that there is a choke-point around my neck.

He did describe what he did: while it feels as though there is a cord around my neck, in fact it is a single stitch in the midline connecting the two sides of the platysma, and sutures tying the platysma to ligaments behind my ears on each side. He states that he placed only self-absorbing sutures, but scar tissue will take the place of the suture. There is not likely to be any loosening except that any residual swelling is making it more noticeable to me. However there is little to no swelling today and the chokehold is impossible to ignore, especially when I swallow.

I'm requesting the surgeon's operation report, and I am going to request a second opinion from another doctor. I don't know if this can even be fixed, so that is what I will be trying to find out.
Washington Facial Plastic Surgeon

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Comments (29)

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We'd love an update now that it's the new year. How are you doing? Are you still feeling the choking sensation?
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Hi, I had upper eyelids and mid face/neck lift done 4 weeks ago and still have 1 black eye and a lot of swelling in my upper cheeks but mainly in my neck. Its tight and some days very uncomfortable, but I know it's just swelling and will go down in time. It's way too soon in your healing to be worried about revisions etc. I would not encourage running while you still have swelling. I will hopefully be returning to slow exercise at around the 6 week mark. I'll be expecting to see my returns to show at around 3 months. Best of luck.
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Results* not returns!
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Hi every one your comments are great..!i m scheduled to upper eyelid and a mini lift with neck for the 23 of November. My concern is mostly the time of the healing as i m about to traveled and stay in Africa around the 20 of December . My doctor assure me that i will be fine but reading all the comment and post here i m beginning to worried.. some advice?
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That is almost four weeks so you will probably be fine to travel. The upper eyelid work I had done a while back left some noticeable black-and-blue for about 3 weeks. I'm 3 weeks out from the neck/face lift and there is little visible evidence of the work done.
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Thank you !!! feel little nervous but i m sure it s worth it!! i will post photos too
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Hello!!! I really love to do the Macslift procedure. I find it offers a very natural and refreshed look and the downtime is minimal. I always send my patient important pre and post surgery instructions that help the patient prepare and also to understand the healing process. If you are healthy and do not take any medication or have health issues and not do smoke, the inital recovery should be 2 weeks. The length of recovery varies from person to person. It really depends on how they are taking care of themselves. I believe that the patients that follow my instructions have the best results and quickest recovery
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thank you
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I had a SMAS face lift and neck lift on Sept. 5th. It was quite an easy recovery the first few weeks. I went through a period of time (a few weeks ago) when my face and neck started to regain feeling and would cycle through extreme periods of tightness and pinching. I took Wobenzyme's for swelling and it helped, but honestly, I was in a terrible mood and quite agitated all the time. This past week it has released a great deal; this is a process that requires time and patience. I was really beginning to think that the swelling and tightness were not going to get better. Take your time with this. You can't determine the results for 4-6 months. I still have swelling under my chin and although my face looks pretty good to me, I know it will change and settle over the next few months. Please give it time...my neck has been so tight I didn't want to touch it but it's really getting better now. I understand the "dead fish" thing and I have had a difficult time with that. I believe in time you will get through this feeling with your neck, as I believe I will. Hang in there, you really do look great. Best Wishes in your recovery.
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Aesthetically your lift looks great. I am so sorry you are a having functional problems!
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LilEgg, After YOU heard him describe his technique for the platysma correction and HE heard you describe the choke hold feeling what does he say is the likelihood of this resolving on its own. And what is the anticipated timeline. The docs on RS are always telling patients to simply look at photos and downplay asking for details of HOW procedures are actually being done in determining what PS to use . Perhaps if you knew his technique PRIOR to your surgery you could have asked the others you consulted with if they concur with his suggested technique or if that might have long term side effects such as the one you are experiencing. At what point in your pre-surgery consultation with Dr Hopping did he mention this as an expected phase of your healing? I really hope that this is a temporary tightness that will relax as scar tissue matures BTW, was your $'s his fee or the total for all services? tks. ..grace60
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Hello grace60. That was his total fee. During pre-surgery consultation I did not ask detailed questions. He did a quick photo-markup to show the expected change in profile. My new profile is a considerably more dramatic change. The break between the horizontal area below my jaw and the vertical area of my neck was not proposed, discussed, nor shown to me in the photo-markup. He did not mention any potential side-effects other than the written disclaimer I had to sign (disfigurement or death, etc.)
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Hello. I believe you should talk to your PS. In my experience patients can do "aerobic" exercise after 3 weeks, and do weights after a month. It's completely normal to be swollen after a surgery. Be patient, and talk your ps.
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Hi LilEgg, I am not an expert nor have I had your procedure, but I have a close friend who had a facelift and I was with her in the days after. She looks wonderful now, remarkable, and she started looking great about 4 months after. But in the weeks immediately after the surgery, she had more than a few things she needed corrected/adjusted and she was in regular conversation and appointments with the surgeon. I am so sorry to hear about your difficulties and can imagine some of it from the way you describe. I sympathize and am so sorry to hear you are also now sad. But honestly you look great in your posted pix, and maybe you just have to be in open conversation with your surgeon about it all and see what he can fix or maybe he can let you know what might resolve on its own? He must have done many of these, so maybe he has some straightforward simple fixes for you? My friend went through all that, including the tightness, the dead skin feeling, and she also had some bad lumpy spots, and as I remember, many more issues than you have described, and she was very worried, but now you wouldn't believe how great she looks. But it took her about 6 weeks to feel less nervous, and I do recall that 3-4 months after she was looking just great. Wishing you all the best, and hoping just talking to your surgeon and hearing what he can do will provide enormous relief.
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A lay opinion, but having gone through this myself, it is way too soon to talk corrections. Looks like you have some swelling. This is to be expected to some degree. Talk to your doc. I am sure he will help you manage it. I think you are going to look wonderful when it resolves.
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Yes, you are right, hopefully talking directly to the doctor will be a big help. Just to clarify, my friend's dr helped her in the first weeks with the swelling, but also was able to reassure her that if the other things did not resolve, they had things they could do. Best wishes to all going through this.
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Hello!! I specialize in the Macslift (Midface and necklift) procedure. In my professional opinion, it is important educate the patient on what to do before the surgery and also what to expect after the surgery so the patient can prepare themselves mentally and physically for a facelift. With any surgery there is swelling and bruising. This is inevitable. It is very important to follow the doctor´s post surgery instructions and if you have any doubts, please clarify everything with your PS.
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I'm surprised you are running. I think most doctors as patients to avoid any sort of exercise for 6 weeks post surgery to help reduce swelling while the body heals.
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I agree, my doc wouldn't let me do anything but walk till I hit the 3 week mark.  
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Please please don't run, or any kind of exercise.....wait wait wait not good at all for you. I speak from experience. You could loosen something, at ten days you are so fragile
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Exercise too soon causes swelling !
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I stopped running. [I only wish it would have loosened something! ;-) ]
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Smile
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I really think that is just swelling that will resolve. It is way too soon to tell what the eventual outcome will be. Have you been watching your sodium intake? At the beginning, even a little salt made me swell and there is so much hidden sodium in foods, esp restaurant food. Talk with your doc. I think you will feel better.  
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Also, are you sleeping with your head elevated? That is important. Your head should be up in a half reclined position, at most.
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