While pan facial rejuvenation (PFR) may seem like a much more significant surgery than a standard facelift (rhytidectomy), recovery time is remarkably similar for most patients. The following timeline is a generalized view of what to expect after your surgery and therefore may vary a little from person to person:
The key to a speedy and comfortable post-op recovery is in the precautions that are taken before your surgery begins. To reduce pain, swelling, and bruising we use a regional nerve block (local anesthetic) injected near specific nerves to decrease pain during, and after surgery. The nerve block works by preventing pain from taking hold to begin with. In addition to regional nerve blocks we also utilize local anesthetic in the specific areas where we work in order to create added layers of pain relief.
We also utilize non-narcotic painkillers post-op which reduce pain and swelling resulting in faster recovery time and less discomfort.
Also, diet and pre-operative preparation will play a significant role in how quickly you begin to feel better. Patients who adhere to a healthy diet before surgery, as well as maintain a healthy lifestyle, tend to recover more rapidly than those who are neglectful of their overall health maintenance.
Typically, you may have had to stay overnight in a hospital, or you may be recovering in a hotel room in downtown San Francisco close to our office. For inpatient surgery, a registered nurse will be present in these first 24 hours to look after you and take care of any needs you may have.
Your first day after surgery you will want to avoid any physical activity as much as you can, enjoy a day in bed and rest up. If you are experiencing residual nausea from the anesthesia, please let your nurse know because there is specific medication you can take for this.
A light bandage may be placed around your face to minimize swelling and bruising, along with small drainage tubes to drain excess fluid. Your face may feel tight, swollen, and mildly tender. Ideally, you should be sitting up at a comfortable angle, your back propped up by pillows, so you do not lie down flat. We recommend sleeping with your head elevated on two pillows for at least the first two weeks to help reduce any swelling or bruising.
Many patients feel that the first week post-op is the worst because of how they look and feel not because of pain. Looking at your swollen or bruised face in a mirror might be upsetting because you might feel it’s the opposite of what you were seeking! In this case, patience is a virtue, and we remind you that the final results of your facelift will take at least 6-12 months to be evident.
In this first week, you are encouraged to move around quite a bit. We encourage lots of walking as this tends to decrease the swelling and edema markedly. However, this level of mild activity should not be confused with activities which are considered strenuous or cause one to strain when performing them.
Your degree of swelling and bruising should peak at about three or four days after surgery and will subside within the second week. You may experience temporary bumps, bulges, mild asymmetries, along with feelings of tingling and numbness. These symptoms are all a natural part of the healing process, as is any itching sensations in your incisions and will subside if you follow provided post-operative care instructions.
After two weeks most of your swelling will have dissipated, but you may still have mild bruising and swelling around the eyes, behind the ears, or on the sides of the face and neck.
Towards the end of the third week, you should notice a significant improvement in the quality of your facial skin and incisions, but you may still experience mild itching and/or numbness. Any bruising should be completely eliminated by this time, and any swelling barely noticeable.
At one month post-op you will probably be able to resume all your normal activities but please refrain from heavy exercise until the sixth week post op.
At this point, nearly all of your swelling or bruising should have dissipated and your incisions will be mostly healed. However, they may still appear pink in color, this is a natural part of the healing process and may take up to six months for the color to fade. During this time it is critical to stay out of direct sunlight and wear a sunscreen to protect your skin.
In the coming months, you’ll be able to see subtle shifts as your procedure rejuvenates your appearance, with full results apparent at around 12 months. It may seem like a long time, but your pan facial rejuvenation will take a year to heal and “settle” into its final result.