Most don’t understand that when undergoing plastic surgery, it is like acquiring a form of injury. Therefore, when we talk about a facelift, that also is a form of injury to the face. The body prompts white blood cells, proteins, and other matter to be sent to the injured area to promote healing. In turn, greater amounts of blood flow and other healing cells travel to the sight. This increased blood flow beneath the skin is visibly apparent from the outside as swelling.
To reduce blood flow and reduce swelling, the ease with which blood flows must be reduced. If the proper measures are taken in the recovery of a facelift, most visible swelling may only last up to 2 weeks. Continued numbness and minor swelling may continue for an additional four to six weeks after the procedure.
A patient has to undergo proper measures to reduce swelling. Exposure to heat should be reduced as much as possible. Heat from sunlight, lamps and warm atmospheres around the face encourages blood to flow faster and thus increases the volume of blood, which is exactly what you don’t want to do. Furthermore, exposure to cold will reduce and restrict the movement of blood. Thus using cold compresses and applying ice packs indirectly will decrease the blood flow and reduce swelling.
It is also advisable to refrain from strenuous activity, as this too encourages excess blood flow. In general, during the two weeks following the operation, keep activity to a minimum so that blood flow is lessened and swelling abated. During the first two weeks, plastic surgeons typically advise sleeping and resting with your head propped up so that blood drains away from the face.
If these measures are taken, in addition to the instructions given by your doctor regarding bandages and medication, the most significant swelling should be gone after two weeks.