After Rhytidectomy (Facelift Surgery)


  • Limit your activity sharply over the first week following surgery.
  • You are encouraged to walk around the house on the day of surgery and thereafter. This helps to prevent blood clots from develop in the legs. Move/pump your legs frequently while lying down. This also helps in preventing blood clots from developing.
  • When you rest or sleep, keep your head elevated 2-3 pillows and avoid turning of your side. If you overexert yourself, bleeding or prolonged swelling may result.
  • Keep your emotions under control. It is not unusual to feel a bit depressed for a few days after surgery. Immediate postop results can be very traumatic and are not indicative of the final result!!! This quickly passes as you begin to look and feel better. Anger, crying or other emotional outbursts will only add to the swelling or increase the likelihood of bleeding.
  • Avoid bending, lifting, pulling, pushing, straining and aerobic activities for 3 weeks.
  • You may begin to return to regular exercise 3 weeks after surgery. Ease into this, gradually increasing your exercise level back to normal by 5-6 weeks from surgery.
  • Take deep breaths often when you get home for the first 24 hours after surgery. This helps to expand the base of your lungs.


  • Do not drink alcohol during the first week. Alcohol consumption should also be limited thereafter as this may raise the blood pressure and initiate bleeding.
  • Drink plenty of fluids following surgery, as dehydration can contribute to nausea.
  • You may want to avoid foods that require much chewing, such as steak. Soft foods may be easier to eat.
  • Small amounts of food 20 minutes before taking postoperative medications (especially pain medications and/or antibiotics) can prevent nausea.
  • If you vomit or feel nauseated, you should delay food and pain medications until the nausea passes.
  • Take only 2-3 ounces of clear liquids at hourly intervals until the nausea subsides. If this symptom persists, call for anti-nausea medications, as subsequent vomiting may be harmful and lead to complications.

Hygiene (Bathing)

  • Following surgery you may bathe, but do not submerge your head in the water.
  • Please follow the schedule below that outlines when you shower and gently wash your hair.
  • You can gently shampoo your hair on the mornings of your postoperative appointments. These fall on day 4/5, day 7, and day 10/11.

Pain, Swelling, Bruising, Infection

  • It is unusual to have significant pain after aging face procedure. If the prescribed medication does not control pain, please report this to us. There is discomfort, of course, but remember that this will quickly pass.
  • Some swelling and bruising is to be expected. Bruising is treated with Arnica, an herb that will be provided by our office. Swelling and bruising is maximal at 48 hours post-surgery and gradually subsides over the following 10-14 days.
  • Infection is also unusual. Fever, localized swelling with redness and tenderness may signify developing infection and should be reported. Appropriate treatment will be initiated.
  • Your final results will occur between 6-12 months. 

Additional instructions after surgery

  • A responsible adult must provide transportation for you after surgery (public transportation is not permissible) and remain with you until the morning following the procedure. If you are having several procedures, you may need assistance for 1-2 days following your procedure.
  • You will need to arrange transportation for your appointment at our office on the day following surgery.  Do not drive for 24 hours after surgery or anytime that you are taking pain medications.
  • Avoid making major decisions or participating in activities requiring judgment for 24 hours after surgery.
  • Smoking should be strictly avoided as it interferes with the blood supply to the healing tissues and slows subsequent healing.
  • Take all medications as instructed postoperatively. Most of the time you may start taking your medications right after surgery, but consult with Dr. Tien first.
  • Avoid excess sunlight to the incisions for at least a year. Even mild sunburn may cause prolonged swelling or irritation of the healing incisions. Use sunscreen with zinc oxide and SPF 20 or greater to help decrease the visibility of the scar.
  • Do not compare your progress with that of other patients. Remember that everyone’s healing process is unique. Also, if you have any questions or concerns, call on us. Your family and friends may mean well, but you can receive wrong information.

Wound Care

  • Keep your initial dressings dry. We will remove your dressing on the first day after surgery.  You will be instructed about caring for your drain at your preoperative visit. Please empty the drain if needed, and record the amount.
  • Ice packs should be used within the first 48 hours after surgery to help with swelling. Apply ice for 15-20 minutes out of each hour while awake. Be sure they are lightweight. Never apply ice directly to the skin. Dipping gauze pads into iced water works well.
  • Clean incisions around your ears and under your chin with peroxide, then apply bacitracin ointment twice a day.
  • Wear ace wrap with jaw bra at all times for the first 5 days, then at night only for an additional 7 days.

Call the office at D.C. Surgical Arts Phone Number 202-360-4032 or the on call pager after hours if you develop any of the following:

  • Fever of 101 degrees F or greater.
  • Pain not relieved with pain medication.
  • Swelling, redness, bleeding, and/or foul drainage from incision area.
  • Persistent nausea and/or vomiting.
  • Any other concerns.