Could I Have Ruined my Facelift From Neck Strain While Off-Roading? (photo)

I had facelift 33 days ago. Followed all instructions, to the "T" 1st 3wks. Couldn't notice edema by POD14 & response was great. POD24-6 went on offroading wkend trip. Didn't realize strain I put on neck. Got home very swollen/tense & it doesn't seem to be getting much better, after po pred x4d, constant support wear, rest, freq ice & elevation. Muscle tension seems worse, edema looks less but doesn't feel better. Could I have permanently compromised results? Will I get POD9 definition back?

Doctor Answers 11

Postoperative recovery after facelift

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It is unlikely that you have "ruined" your facelift. However, your post does offer a cautionary tale for prospective facelift patients. Having been limited in their level of activity in the immediate postoperative period, many patients burst out of the gate aggressively shortly thereafter in an effort "to make up for lost time."

Most of the patients who have behaved in this manner will tell you in retrospect that it is never worth it. Even if there is no permanent compromise of their surgical result, the anxiety that they might have done so makes them regret engaging in whatever strenuous activity in which they had performed. Far better, to take it easy, until your surgeon explicitly cuts you loose to resume your regular excercise or sporting activity, and, even then, only gradually advance your level of exertion over time.

In your particular case, it does not appear from the photographs that there has been a hematoma or compromise of your flaps in any way. Because the facelift inevitably disrupts the venous and lymphatic drainage of the face and neck, there is always a slower resolution of swelling than there is in the unoperated face.

It is normal for swelling to wax and wane in the weeks and months following a facelift, and that is what is happening here. Symptomatic treatment with elevation, NSAIDS, ice,rest, and the passage of time  should do the trick, but the object lesson you inadvertently provided should be helpful to future patients.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

Postop Neck

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At day 33 your neck still looks much better than the preop.

Ask your doc if you can have lymphatic facial massage. Be patient. It looks like all will be well.

Richard Sadove, MD
Gainesville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Off roading after facelift

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You're probably going to be just fine.  Edema (swelling) will persist after the facelift for months, and will fluctuate depending on your activity level, position, application of compression garments, and perhaps salt and fluid intake, medications you are using, etc.  The general trend of this swelling is to slowly resolve.  Check with your plastic surgeon though if he/she wants to see you to check it out, or, if you're anxious about it, perhaps best to go in for check up.

Steve Laverson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 50 reviews

Off-roading with a new face

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It is very unlikely that after 3 weeks you have 'ruined' anything.  You probably just have some swelling and tightness of your neck muscles.

Sam Naficy, MD, FACS
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 231 reviews

Facelift - Could I Have Ruined my Facelift From Neck Strain While Off-Roading?

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Unlikely...but to be sure, you should touch base with your PS.  It sounds like you followed all required post-op instructions, even if you - however unintentionally - overdid it after that.  But the good news is that it's pretty normal for swelling to go up and down anyway, and certainly if there was some stress or trauma.  I suspect you'll be fine; you just have to give it a few months (for everything to settle down).  In the meantime, touch base with your PS.

I hope that this helps, and good luck,

Dr. E

Facelift, exertion, and post-op compliance

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Adherance to post-operative instrutions is critical for timely healing and a good result, especially regarding facial rejuvination surgery. It sounds like you were compliant with your surgeon's instructions and your photos don't appear to reveal any hematomas. Exertional activity more than 3 weeks after a facelift should not have any adverse effects on your ultimate outcome. However, your experience illustrates how sensitive the face and neck can be even beyond the three week healing window.

I like my patients to have at least ten days of vacation time and no strenuous activity for a month in order to minimize potential prolonged swelling. I would follow up with your surgeon to ensure that you haven't compromised your results. Your results look great.

Todd C. Miller, MD
Newport Beach Facial Plastic Surgeon

Compromised Facelift Secondary to Neck Strain.

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It is unlikely you did any permanent harm to your neck by off-roading 1 month after your facelift, but final healing my be delayed. I suggest you consult with your surgeon.

Richard W. Fleming, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Problems after a facelift, possible injury

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i cant really see much on the photos.. if there is no discoloration , bleeding or hematoma is unlikely.

swelling not unheard of after increased activity..  ice elevation , celebrex can help syptoms.  obviously have your doctor examine you .

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 116 reviews

Exertion 4 weeks after Facelift

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I doubt that you have harmed your facelift results permanently from your activity. In fact, our facelift patients have  routinely returned to their activities after 4 weeks. Fluctuating swelling though is normal and may be temporarily worse with exercise.

The result may look much better at 9 days after the surgery - especially if a "mini-lift" has been performed. if your neck and jawline continue to worsen over the next 3 months than it is most likely due to the conservatism of the lift itself.

Looking at your photos, it appears that you also underwent skin resurfacing of face and neck which can add to swelling associated with exercise, sweating etc.

Stay in close contact to your facelift surgeon.

Frank P. Fechner, MD
Worcester Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Bruising after facial surgery

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You have discovered a valuable lesson about postoperative surgery in general.  As well as you think you are progressing, excess movement, or exercise may still cause  facial swelling and even bleeding in the first several weeks.  Bleeding is known as hematoma formation, and may require a secondary operation for blood removal in some cases.  In your case, however, I believe you will only experience some swelling that should settle and disappear soon, however.  Please take it easy after surgery, and by all means give yourself more time before you engage in more aggressive activities.  Do use some cool compresses on the bruised areas several times each day, and mild compressing wouldn't hurt either, for that matter.


Good luck.

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.