Swelling is normal and expected after any facelift surgery, including the extended deep plane facelift. It gradually resolves without intervention in almost all cases (see the extended deep plane facelift page for the average expected recovery time). Swelling is largely due initially to the normal healing (i.e., acute inflammatory) response after surgery followed by the fact that the lymphatic drainage system – the system that carries the body’s natural fluid through the body and back to the heart – requires time to heal as well. However, there are multiple strategies available to patients to accelerate the resolution of swelling after surgery. Please note that the below strategies may not be appropriate for every patient. Seek a fellowship-trained facial plastic surgeon if you have concerns about your face or neck. Speak to your surgeon about their preferred strategies to reduce swelling after facelift surgery.
Four Strategies to Reduce Swelling after Deep Plane Facelift Surgery
Dr. Jeffrey Harmon
1. Head Elevation
I have my patients keep their head elevated while sleeping for two weeks after surgery, either by sleeping on a recliner or on two pillows in their bed. This allows the body’s lymphatic fluid to move away from the face more efficiently due to the added effects of gravity.
2. Oral Steroids
A short course of low-dose steroids taken by mouth after surgery can reduce the swelling that naturally increases approximately day two after surgery and typically peaks at approximately one week to ten days after surgery. Oral steroids, while not necessary for healing, reduce the acute inflammatory response that occurs during the first few days after surgery.
3. Steroid Injections
Low-dose, dilute steroids can sometimes be injected in the deep tissue in areas starting multiple weeks after surgery to accelerate the resolution of small areas of persistent swelling. It usually takes approximately two weeks for these injections to be effective.
4. Lymphatic Massage
Lymphatic massage can usually be started approximately four to six weeks after surgery. Lymphatic massage can assist with the clearance of fluid from the face while the lymphatic system heals. However, it should be performed by an individual who is well-trained and specializes in the appropriate technique.
Trust Your Face to a Facial Plastic Surgeon
It is important to seek a fellowship-trained specialist in plastic surgery of the face and neck when you have concerns about your face or neck.
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