Face Lift (Rhytidectomy) Instructions

These instructions were carefully written with you in mind. Take the time to read them thoroughly several times. We have found that adherence to these guideline will give you the smoothest recovery and optimum results. If a question does arise, first refer back to these pages. If your still uncertain, call the office on 706-235-5570.

Before Your Procedure:

  1. Be sure to have all your medications and prescriptions purchase prior to surgery. These include antibiotic, antibiotic ointment (Polysporin), pain medication, anti-nausea suppositories, hydrogen peroxide and Q-tips.
    2. Shampoo your scalp for 10 minutes on the morning of, or the evening prior to your surgery, with Phisoderm. Following the use of Phisoderm, shampoo your hair with your favorite shampoo, but do not use conditioner.
    3. Cleanse your face for 5 minutes twice daily with Phisoderm for at least three days prior to your surgery.
    5. Arrange for a driver to transport you to the Surgery Center for your first week’s post-operative visits, due to the fact that the medications given may slow your reflexes, and the facial dressing will restrict your vision. Ask the Doctor’s advice if you have questions.
    6. You must have a responsible adult, friend or relative, 18 years or older, drive you home following surgery and plan to remain with you for the first 24 hours post-operatively. (You will not be allowed to ride home in a taxi cab following surgery.)
    7. If indicated, please see your personal physician and have the report sent to our office.
    8. Prescription drugs administered under the care of your physician, and reported on the history form you completed at the time of consultation, may be taken unless you were instructed otherwise.
    9. Smoking – if you are a smoker, stop smoking at least one month prior to surgery to enhance wound healing and your ultimate result.

Avoid the Following

  • Aspirin or aspirin products 0 do not take for 14 days (two weeks) before or after surgery. You can download and print a list of products here – please read it carefully.
  • Vitamin E – do not take for 14 days before or after surgery.
  • Alcohol, mood altering drugs or substances – do not use for 2 days before surgery.


An antibiotic will be prescribed for you. Take daily with food until it is all gone. Do not take your antibiotic the morning of surgery. Start taking them after surgery with your evening meal.

Pain medications are usually prescribed to control any discomfort you may have post-operatively. Take one tablet every 3-4 hours as needed. DO NOT take any pain medication on an empty stomach, as this can cause nausea. Eat soda crackers or something light before taking.

Tigan or Phenergan rectal suppositories are to be used if you experience nausea. Use one at a time. Do not use more than 4 per 24 hours.

The Day Before Surgery

  1. Do not wear clothing which must be pulled over your head. A button down, zippered top or shirt will make it easier to get dressed following surgery.
    2. Wash your face the morning of surgery with Phisoderm. Do not apply make-up or moisturizer after washing with Phisoderm. The means no make-up is to be worn to the office.
    3. Once again, please check with the office if any of your usual drugs can or should be taken the morning of your surgery.

Patient Responsibility

Once your face lift has been performed, the responsibility for its ultimate success depends on you carefully following these post-operative instructions. For the first two weeks following surgery, you must give all of your attention to assisting the healing of your face lift. This means not to neglect or delay any responsibilities listed in the instructions. Whomever will be with you during recovery should also read these instructions. It is essential that someone accompany you to and from the surgery center for your postoperative visits. It is advisable that an adult be available to help you during the first week of recovery the first week of recovery.

Follow Up Appointments

It is important that you return on days 1, 2, and possibly 3 following surgery. These visits are usually at the office where your surgery was performed. On the first post-operative visit the compression dressing with be removed, drains pulled if present, and the dressing will be reapplied and worn for another full day. At the second visit it will be removed and replaced with a chin strap. Most women patients need only 2 dressing changes; the third is often not necessary. Men, however, due to their faces being more vascular, most often require a third dressing change. At the second or third visit, your progress will be evaluated and any further questions answered and appropriate suggestions made. One week (7 days) following surgery, the stitches in front of the ear will be removed. This will be done at the office. The remaining sutures or staples in the hairline will be removed after ten days to two weeks (14 days), again in the office.

Follow Up Appointment Schedule

Beginning the day after surgery:
Day 1: You will be seen at the office to have your dressing removed drains pulled and dressing reapplied.
Day 2: Office to have your dressing removed and chin strap applied.
Day 3: The doctor will tell you if he feels it is necessary for you to be seen on day 3.
Day 7: You will be seen at the office to remove the sutures in front of your ears.
Day 14: Office for removal of the remaining sutures in the hairline.

All remaining post-operative follow up visit dates will be recommended by the doctor. Please call the office to schedule your appointments for sutures removal (days 10 & 14). Our office number is: 706-235-5570.


  1. On your arrival home you will feel like sleeping. You will have a large, bulky dressing which looks like a turban or helmet. You may experience discomfort from the bandage, or nausea from the anesthesia. The dressing will restrict your hearing and your peripheral vision and may feel tight. Do not loosen or remove the facial dressing. As mentioned above, on the second post-operative day the dressing will be removed, and a chin strap may be applied. The chin strap is to be worn day and night for one week (7 day), and at night hereafter for the next 8-12 weeks. DO NOT wear your chin strap too tightly; a moderate support is all that is needed. You do not need to wear the chin strap to the office on the seventh day.
    2. It is common to have a variable degree of swelling and bruising for the next few days. To keep it to a minimum, continue elevation of the head. Sleep in a semi-sitting position. You can do this by sleeping in a recliner or by propping yourself up on two or three pillows. Continue sleeping in this position for two weeks (14 days) following surgery. Stay away from salty foods, especially before retiring.
    3. If you develop severe swelling on one side of the face versus the other, exaggerated pain on one side, or bleeding through the bandage, immediately elevate the head, apply pressure to the are (most especially to the midpoint in front of the ear), and then notify the office at 706-235-5570
    4. For the first few days when getting up from bed, rise slowly taking short breaths between each movement. Example: sit up, rest, place feet on floor, rest, etc. Be sure you have an able adult assist you to and from your destination.
    5. A low grade fever is not abnormal. Take two Tylenol tablets for any elevated temperature under 101 degrees. Call the office if you have a persistent fever over 101 degrees.


  1. Avoid excessive facial and neck movements for two weeks (14 days). Move your head and shoulders as one unit. Tightness along the incision is to be expected, but if you feel and increase in tightness as you move, you may be moving your head or neck to much. Avoid quick movements, bending, leaning forward or straining for two weeks (14 days) following surgery. Excessive movements can raise your blood pressure and cause bleeding.
    2. If you develop a cough, it is extremely important that you inform the doctor. Coughing will increase blood pressure to the neck and face which could cause unwanted bleeding or bruising.
    3. You may resume athletic activity in 4-6 weeks.
    4. You may take a body bath after surgery, avoiding the head and neck.
    5. You may shower and shampoo your hair on the third day after surgery, using a baby shampoo and void disturbing your incisions.
    6. Men may shave by the fourth or fifth day.


If constipation occurs, you may take a laxative. You may find it helpful to use a stool softener such as Metamucil, increase your fluid intake, and add high fiber foods to your diet.

Things to Remember

  1. If you feel nauseated, use the prescribed anti-nausea suppository.
    2. You will feel a tight or heavy feeling in the face, but little discomfort. If necessary, take the pain medication prescribed.
    3. Do not take aspirin or products containing aspirin for two weeks (14 days) following surgery.
    4. DO NOT SMOKE for at least 4+ weeks (30 days) before or after surgery.
    5. Do not eat foods, candy or gum which are hard to chew. A liquid or soft diet is recommended for the first three days. It is normal to experience some temporary numbness, tingling or increased sensitivity especially around the ears.

Care of Incisions

Once in the chin strap (day 2), your sutures lines will require special care. Use hydrogen peroxide with Q-tips to saturate lesions and incisions, unless instructed NOT to do so. Let the peroxide bubble for a minute or so in order to help loosen the crust, then gently remove. Apply Polysporin or Bacitracin ointment liberally over suture lines. This should be done at least three times a day to help clean and protect the incisions. Keeping the incisions moist will encourage faster healing and a more pleasing scar.

Skin Care

Facial cleansing should be done carefully the first week. After the first week, wash your face with a mild cleanser.

You may begin to apply facial make-up one week (7 days) following surgery. This includes the eyes unless you have also had eyelid surgery. Apply very carefully, avoiding your incision lines. Avoid rubbing, tugging, pushing or stretching the skin.

*Dermablend make-up is very effective in covering any bruising and can be bought before surgery to match your skin color at either J.C. Penny or Macy’s.

Sun Protection

To help prevent further sun damage, apply a facial sunscreen to your face daily. Use a sunscreen that provides the broadest coverage with SPF15. Avoiding the mid-day sun and wearing a broad brimmed had are also important in helping prevent aging skin changes from the sun.

Additional Procedures

Additional procedures, such as chemical peel, dermabrasion, Juvederm, fat grafting, BOTOX, or eyelid surgery may be discussed during your post-operative visit.

Learn more about Face Lifts (Rhytidectomy) here.