It’s not just what happens on the surgeon’s table that matters when it comes to optimal results from facial plastic surgery, but what comes next. Healing is crucial for the best outcome and the fastest recovery. There are basic considerations like improving overall health before and after the procedure and specific tactics for healing the incisions of facelifts and other surgeries that plastic surgeons say can make all the difference in the outcome.
Dr. Dilip Madnani is an expert in facial cosmetic surgery and the healing process. “All I do are facelifts and facial rejuvenation surgeries. The quicker the patients heal afterwards, the quicker they can return to work and feel and look their best,” he said. The healing optimization process begins well before patients undergo their procedures at Madnani Facial Plastics in Smithtown or Manhattan. Madnani gives prospective patients a full examination and consultation in collaboration with their primary care doctors to determine if a patient’s general health level is up to par. If so, he advises some pre-op musts. Patients should quit smoking beforehand (it decreases oxygen in the blood, which is what skin needs for healing), discontinue any blood thinners and fish oil supplements and avoid caffeine around the time of the surgery. Some of the health benefits even extend beyond the cosmetic. Many patients who quit smoking for their cosmetic surgery often permanently quit, Madnani said, after seeing how much better they look and feel.
Dr. Matthew Bonanno, director of Premier Plastic Surgery in Manhattan, agreed that patient health is the number one priority, even when it comes to elective cosmetic procedures. “The health of the patient is as important as the aesthetic outcome. Patient safety is number one,” explained Bonanno. Prospective patients are carefully screened for things like diabetes, smoking habits and steroid medications, which are all factors that can influence wound healing time. Post-operatively, patients are encouraged to follow a healthy, nutritious diet to speed the recovery. “Everyone heals differently—younger patients tend to have a bit faster recovery—but we control as many factors as we can pre-operatively and post-operatively.” Patients who don’t receive a medical clearance from their primary doctor may even be turned away.
Dr. Madnani’s practice offers procedures under non-general anesthesia, which allows more patients to qualify for surgery. Procedures done under partial sedation also result in less overall swelling than those with general anesthesia. After the surgery, patients are followed closely for several weeks. Madnani recommends several vitamins for his recovering patients like bromelain, a pineapple extract that can reduce facial swelling. “In seven to ten days the majority of my patients are ready to go back to work.” In around 10 percent, especially among patients with diabetes, it can take a little bit longer. Aesthetic outcomes also vary, with younger patients who have less sun damage doing better, but Madnani asserted that overall, facelift patients will look 10 years younger and respond well to the healing protocol.
Specific tips for optimal healing of facelift surgery include keeping the incisions moisturized by continuously applying antibiotic ointment and keeping the head elevated at night to minimize swelling and bruising, according to Bonanno. He also advises patients to stay out of the sun for six months so the scars don’t become pigmented, making them more obvious to the naked eye.