Before the "After"

Many people are squeamish about surgery. If you are one of them, stop reading right here. If, on the other hand, you are curious about the real-time recovery process of a person before and after the decision to proceed with facial rejuvenation, then by all means read on. We chatted with a woman at the far end of her recovery from what is known as the latest development in facial plastic surgery — a short-scar face-lift. Warning: this is not for the faint of heart.

One Week Before Surgery:
I had been thinking about a face-lift for many years. In fact, 50 was the age I had always told myself I would do it. I ended up doing it at 52. As far as the emotional aspect of the surgery there were a lot of ups and downs as you can imagine. My husband and adult children had an intervention a week before the surgery. They confronted me and told me to cancel. They thought I had lost my mind. I explained to them how important it was to me. I am a firm believer in taking care of my body and my health. It’s really important to me. I used the car analogy: you scratch or dent your car and you fix it don’t you? Why is your car more important than your face? I don’t get why this is so confusing for some people. After a lot of convincing, they finally understood and decided to support me.

Immediately After Surgery:
I woke from the surgery by the squeezing of the leg cuffs that keep the circulation going and wondered why I had them on. Then I noticed my husband holding my hand, and I knew where I was and why. My husband offered words of comfort and the nurse came smiling, saying everything went well. So after all the years of dread — now it was done. Although I had a headache, I was thrilled that it was over. Shortly after recovery, I was released to my husband to go home. When I got settled in, I took the prescribed pain medication and the headache went away. But I had a bad reaction to the pain pill and vomited. Not fun with stitches. So that was the one and only pain pill I took. Tylenol managed the discomfort from then on just fine. I knew it was going to be a rough couple of weeks and it was. My doctor had prepared me for staying at home at least a week. I was to sleep in a recliner the first week to ease swelling. I had a drain behind both ears that were removed the next day pretty painlessly and without any issues.

One Week After Surgery:
I tried sleeping in my own bed for the first time and went right back to the recliner. I actually slept there for two weeks. The swelling would be much worse on the side of the face that I slept on and looked pretty scary. I didn’t want to take any chances and sleeping in the recliner seemed easier than dealing with weird swelling, at least until that situation settled down. I held ice packs in my hands 24/7. It was around the end of the first week that the stitches came out and the head dressing came off and I was able to wash my hair.

Two Weeks After Surgery:
I was able to leave my home. I covered the bruising with makeup and wore sunglasses everywhere I went, indoors and out. I was able to sleep in my own bed but only with ice packs, as the swelling was still pretty uncomfortable. The sides of my face and my eyelids were numb. This didn’t scare me because my doctor had warned me before the surgery and I knew what to expect. I realized eating anything salty — I’m going to feel it. I also noted if I drank too much caffeine I would feel that, too.

Four Months Later:
I still have a little swelling. It’s not anything I can see in the mirror, I can just feel it. A low-sodium diet is essential to keeping the swelling down — even now. If I eat something salty, I am prepared to feel it. If you eat too much salt your body doesn’t really respond well, so this experience has been very helpful in knowing exactly how much is too much for me.
Although my family understood my decision to proceed with the face-lift and decided to support me, when they looked at me immediately after surgery I could see in their eyes the same confused look they had when they tried the intervention. “Why?” they would ask. “You were so beautiful.” Yeah, thanks a lot! I will say, it was devastating to look in the mirror the first week, even though my doctor warned me not to. I just wanted to see how horrible it was for myself. Was it really as bad as the expression on their faces? Yep, it was. It was pretty scary. But I knew it would be, and I didn’t let it get me down for long. I just focused on recovery and a couple weeks went by and I was really pleased. One month out, I attended a business function and felt that no one noticed anything different. My husband and children are happy and pleased with the results. I am thankful that I had a good doctor and all went well. It was all definitely worth it.