Anxiety Post Op?

I am 5 weeks post op from my cheek/neck lift. I am having a lot of anxiety. My GP put me on a low dose of xanax 3 weeks ago but it still seems to be there when I try to lower the dose. This also happened to me after a surgery 10 years ago. Strangely it did not happen after a knee surgery 3 years ago. Could this be some sort of reaction to the type of anesthetic used? I don't usually have anxiety. Is this something anybody has seen before? I want to feel like myself again. Thanks!

Doctor Answers 12

Post-cosmetic surgery anxiety is more common than you realize

Patient5555: Many elective surgery patients experience post-op "blues", even in the absence of complications.  Patients don't recognize the reflection in the mirror because of temporary changes: swelling, bruising, early scars, disruption of your regular regimen, etc.  Facelift patients are  extremely "vulnerable" not only because their results are on full display but also because they may feel sensitive and/or guilty about having initiated a change.  Do realize that there are resources which you can and should utilize; in rank order, your PS, your GP and +/- a psychologist or psychiatrist who is experienced and interested in the care of cosmetic surgery patients.  In France, all patients are screened twice, by their GP and a psychologist, prior to being referred to a PS, however since you are in the grips of anxiety, do ask for help and realize that given your prior experience, this too shall pass. Good luck.

Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

Postoperative anxiety

Anxiety after plastic surgery is not common but certainly does occasionally happen.  It is often difficult to tell who will experience this- I have seen very confident patients have postoperative anxiety issues and some patients who are very anxious before surgery sail through without a problem.  The good news is that even the most anxious patients I have seen have ended up fine and happy with their surgery and results.  

Anti-anxiety medications are very helpful, and sometimes a visit or two with a therapist can be a tremendous aid in alleviating stress.  At this point in your recovery, this is the recommendation I would make.

Adam David Lowenstein, MD, FACS
Santa Barbara Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Anxiety after facelift

This can occur to some people after surgery, especially after a facelift. I see  you have tried medication and this has helped. perhaps you should try other things. Have you tried working out to get your mind off it? Also, you should begin to socialize and do other activities to free you mind..get well soon.

Andres Bustillo, MD, FACS
Miami Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 115 reviews

Anxiety after surgery

Sorry to hear about the anxiety you are experiencing following your procedure. Your anxiety is not likely the result of any anesthetic. I would recommend an evaluation by a board certified psychiatrist to determine the cause of your anxiety, as it should not persist following your initial recovery period. In general, a little bit of anxiousness is not uncommon before and after surgery. For anxiety, I typically give patients one of the following prior to surgery:

1) Valium
2) Xanax

In my practice, I have not seen prolonged anxiety following the patient’s recovery. But not to worry, it is something that can be treated and should improve over time. I hope this helps, and best of luck to you.

Jonathan Kulbersh, MD
Charlotte Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 66 reviews

Anxiety after Facelift

            Plastic surgeons frequently see depression and anxiety after many types of procedures, but, at 5 weeks, you should be feeling better.  I would agree with others to see a psychiatrist who will be more familiar with symptoms and diagnoses and will be more familiar with SSRIs, mood stabilizers, and anxiolytics.

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 492 reviews

Anxiety after face lift

Face lifts often create intense anxiety -

  • our faces are bruised and swollen,
  • it is hard to believe everything is ok,
  • surgery is tiring, so it's hard to bounce back
  • surgery makes us vulnerable - and can revive painful memories. So -
  • discuss your worries with your plastic surgeon as well as your GP
  • Wait a full 6 weeks and if no better, consult a mental health expert.
  • If you're worried about your result - get a second plastic surgery opinion. Hope this helps!


Elizabeth Morgan, MD, PhD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Prolonged anxiety following a facelift

Some degree of depression or anxiety is not uncommon after any surgery.  It is usually short lived.  Xanax treats the symptoms of anxiety but not the underlying cause.  If you are having difficulty sleeping and performing the tasks of daily living then you may need to be evaluated by a psychiatrist.  You may need to, at least temporarily, have your medications changed or altered.   

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Post Op Anxiety

I would encourage you to see a psychopharmacologist.  This is a psychiatrist with fellowship expertise in psychoactive drugs.  This honestly is a much better resource than your GP who may know one or two drugs.  Generally a certain percentage of patients have a mild clinical depression after surgery but it can also be an anxiety disorder or a even some form of psychosis.  Whatever the basis for your feelings, even if the episode is short lived, it is unpleasant.  Get real help for this.  This will help you feel better faster.

Kenneth D. Steinsapir, MD
Beverly Hills Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Anxiety Post Op?

 I have performed Face Lifts for 25 years and honestly, some degree of anxiety and or crying is very common after traditional Face and or Neck Lifts.  Most often this occurs during the first month but it can occur later in the post op course.  I personally feel this is due to the prolonged bruising, swelling, lumps and bumps associated with these more invasive Face Lifts.  I say that because for the past 7-8 years most of my Face Lift patients have opted for a less invasive, smaller incision Face Lift which does not seem to create that level of anxiety.  I believe this is due to the limited bruising, swelling and downtime associated with these minimally invasive Face Lift variants.  

 I suggets that you discuss any concerns that you may have over your post-op course with your Face Lift Surgeon and once you're convinced that you are on the right healing course...allow yourself time to heal inside as well, taking comfort in the fact that you are not alone.  Hope this helps.

Francis R. Palmer, III, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Anxiety Postop

Although anxiety postoperatively is fairly normal in the first few days after surgery, this condition generally improves as steps are made in the healing process.  However, some patients have a higher baseline anxiety level or indeed an anxiety disorder which require professional treatment by a Psychiatrist.  Stressful events such as a surgical procedure can be catalysts for an exacerbation.  This is atypical and requires further evaluation.

Stephen Prendiville, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 93 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.