I had a face and neck lift 1 week PO. Since the procedure, I have had difficulty breathing at night. Will it get better? (photo)

I now have severe sleep apnea. It was so distressing, I bought a used cpap machine, which has allowed me to sleep. My question is whether this is caused by swelling and muscle tightening, and whether it will go away.

Doctor Answers 4

Sleep apnea after facelift.

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Thanks for your question.  It is normal to feel tightness following your facelift procedure.  This will abate over then ensuing weeks.  However, it is not normal to have sleep apnea following your procedure.  I don't know how a facelift could in any way cause sleep apnea.  Nothing done during a normal procedure should have any correlation.  However, if you had mild sleep apnea prior to the procedure and now things are more constricted this might explain your present situation.  I would speak with both your doctor and also consult with a pulmonary physician.  Sleep apnea can be a dangerous situation if it's not handled correctly.

Sleep apnea not normal after facelift

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In order to formally diagnose obstructive sleep apnea, a formal sleep study must be performed and this is something you should do.  Regardless, many patients become aware of existing problems after a surgical procedure---you have likely had this breathing problem and now with all of the stimulation from the surgical procedure, you are now more aware of it.  Hopefully, as your tightness from the surgery resolves over the next few weeks, you will likely feel better.  Again, have your physician order a formal sleep study.

John Frodel, MD
Atlanta Facial Plastic Surgeon

Breathing problems after facelift?

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Your complaints are unusual and you should make sure you discuss with your surgeon soon.  Sleep apnea can only be truly diagnosed with a sleep study of some kind and a CPAP machine is technically a prescription only device...regardless of the medical terminology it sounds like you need to have the situation addressed.

Some questions you will want to discuss with your surgeon:  

Do you have trouble breathing whenever you lay flat or just when you fall asleep?

Where are you obstructing or feeling tight with the breathing?  Nose? Throat? Chest?

Are you having any other symptoms?  Chest pain, shortness of breath while awake?

It would be unusual after most facelift procedures to have any long term sleep issues like sleep apnea, so hopefully your problems will get better with time.  However, If you have any severe symptoms, get evaluated ASAP.  After evaluation by your surgeon, if problems persist, you might consider consultation with an ENT who does sleep apnea surgery so they can evaluate your airway.

Michael Bowman, MD
Roanoke Facial Plastic Surgeon

Sleep apnoea after minilift

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First of all it looks like you have had a great result! Your situation is unusual. Looking at you pre op photo you had a heavy midline neck and platysma laxity. Did you have a cut under the chin and platysmaplasty? this may account for your 'tightness'. If not it is likely to be upper airways obstruction due to nasal blockage. Ephedrine nose drops may help and salt water washouts. At one week out, the tissue swelling can still be significant so this should settle. I would visit your surgeon and have them examine your nose and throat. 

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.