Dry, flaky skin post facelift.

I am about 45 days post FL and skin is very dry and flaky, even my ears have slight flaking. What causes this and how can I combat it? I didn't have any resurfacing, laser, etc. I've been using SkinMedia dermal repair but it still is flaky - my lips are also extremely dry. Thank you

Doctor Answers 7

Dry skin after surgery

Dry akin after a facelift is common.  Use a good moisturizer (Eucerin is just fine and inexpensive).   Avoid Retin A and Retinol products for the first 2 months.   Use  gentle soaps ( Ivory is great or one of the over the counter skin soaps.    You do not need to spend much money for moisturizers or soaps.    You can get all you need at Walmarts pharmacy.    My Best,  Dr C

Dry skin after a facelift

There are a couple of reasons we see this after a lift, even as late as you are post op.  All of them resolve with time.  One is that the surgery disrupts normal skin physiology, even if it's in a subtle way.  Alterations in blood flow, inflammatory cell response, change in tension all take some time to return to normal.   In general the normal maturation cycle of skin cells needs some time to reset.  The second issue is swelling, which initially causes the skin to be tense and expanded.  As that resolves, the body tends to more rapidly shed the outer skin layer that was stressed or disrupted by the original swelling.  The result again is a period of time where the skin is dry and flaky, until the majority of the swelling resolves, the skin cycle resets, and the normal physiology returns.
The key is hydration without too much occlusion.  The SM dermal repair is reasonable, but other options like Obagi's Hydrate or SM TNS are also office fav's.

Kevin Robertson, MD
Madison Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Flaking skin after face lift

Thank you for asking about your face lift.

This is a long time to be still having problems.
  • Dry lips are often caused by subclinical cold sore outbreaks
  • If you have ever had cold sores, ask your surgeon for a trial prescription of Valtrex.
  • If your lips improve in 2 days or less - that was causing or contributing to dry lips.
  • The flakiness is from your skin not shedding the outer layers of skin fast enough.
  • (it can be worsened if weather has been very cold.)
  • A topical glycolic cream along with a glycolic peel should help.
  • Flaking ears are unusual - if you have ever had psoriasis or any skin condition, consider seeing a dermatolofist if things aren't settling down in a few weeks.
Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon
Hope you found this answer helpful. Best wishes.

Dry Skin

Dry skin after a facelift is not uncommon. In your case I would suggest changing what you have been using to see if that is part of the problem. Skin Medica's TNS is a good way to hydrate and rejuvenate your skin. Since you also have dry lips and live in an area that is dry in the winter/early spring, I would try drinking more water. In any event it will lessen and stop soon.

Best of Luck

Dr. J

A. Dean Jabs M.D. Ph.D. FACS
Board Certified Plastic Surgeon
Bethesda MD/McLean VA

Dry, Flaky Skin following Facelift

Dear imagingboomer:

At the  the time of any surgery but in this case, facelift surgery, there is a immediate lack of flow to the skin. The skin recovers by increasing heart rate, heart pumping and vessel dilation to reduce the risk of skin loss due to ischemia. It is not unusual for the epidermis to respond with dryness, flaking and at times blistering. 

Now that you are 6 plus weeks following surgery, the risk of skin loss has passed and it is time to stimulate a pleasing skin texture, normalization of the scar and remodeling process in addition to your new perkier, lifted face. 

Gentle cleansers are good! Scubs maybe good depending on your skin quality. Moisturizers, all depend on your skin oiliness or dryness (obviously now, it is dry).

It is my recommendation that you find and consult with a Skin Care Specialist, particularly one that is a Certified ZO (Obagi) Skin Health Specialist or on his Faculty to carefully introduce Retinoids and/or non-retinoids, hydroquinones and/or non-HQs (a pharmacological level of care), proper moisturizers, anti-oxidants and protection to properly up-regulate and transform your skin quality to a rosy, moist, rejuvenated quality. 

You have invested a lot in your facelift! Stimulate it and care for it to last longer than the normal aging and environmental factors against it. 

I hope this is helpful! All the best!

Dean P. Kane, MD, FACS
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Dry skin after a facelift.

The physiologic changes to the skin cause the epidermis to the produced exuberantly after a facelift. This can be treated by thorough cleaning, exfoliation, and a good moisturizer. Overtime skin physiology will return to normal.

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Dry skin

This is very common after facelift surgery especially around the ears. A gentle moisturizer should help. Be careful not to apply too much or you could also have acne breakout.

Hope this helps,
Dr. Gustavo A. Diaz
Double Board Certified in Facial Plastic Surgery

Gustavo A. Diaz, MD
Charlotte Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 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.