Facelift (Rhytidectomy)


  • After your surgery, the nurses will go over all instructions with the person that will be accompanying you at home.
  • Don’t be surprised at the pale, bruised, and puffy face, neck and ears you see. This is normal and will last around 10 days.
  • A feeling of tightness, especially in the neck, is frequently experienced. It subsides gradually over the first few weeks.
  • There is usually no significant discomfort after surgery; pain medication will be prescribed by Dr. Reynolds to lessen any discomfort you will have.
  • A dressing may be applied (and should not be removed). Patients are seen the next day, the bandages are removed and the wounds redressed.
  • Some numbness of the skin is quite normal; it will disappear in a few months.
  • The sutures or staples will be removed in a week to 10 days.
  • Hair may be thin for some time around surgical sites.

Pre Operative Instructions for Facelift (Rhytidectomy)


 1. Follow the Obagi home care cosmetic regiment for 6 weeks with tretinoin (retin-A) at least on the standard dose regiment or higher.  If not on Obagi then use Hydroquinone and Retin-A.
 2. No smoking for 6 weeks prior to the procedure.
 3. No aspirin containing products (see list on website), Ibuprofen, Naproxyn, Vitamin E, Fish Oil, Oil supplements, Herbal supplements, Tea (except plain green tea), Herbals, or any other blood thinners.
 4. Only moderate alcohol use (2 glasses per 24 hours) just before the procedure.
 5. Cleanse face and hair with phisohex or other antibiotic soap the morning before the procedure.
 6. Wear no make-up or jewelry on the day of the procedure.
 7. Use no moisturizer or any cosmetic of any type the morning of the procedure.
 8. Wear loose fitting clothes without a high collar.
 9. Do not use hair spray or gels on the day of the procedure.
 10. Follow PreOp anesthesia instructions.
 11. Start PreOp valacyclovir (Valtrex) 1 day prior to the procedure.
12.  Start prescribed antibiotic as directed prior to the procedure.

View or Download Pre Operative Instructions for Facelift (Rhytidectomy) (shown above)

Post Operative Instructions for Facelift (Rhytidectomy)


1.  Swelling and bruising:

Expect some swelling and discoloration of your face and neck. Use ice the first 24 to 48 hours for swelling.  Wear your support strap full time for the first week, and at least half time for the second week. Ensure the skin under the dressing is flat, not folded or wrinkled; otherwise it will heal that way.  If you experience severe swelling call me immediately.

 2. Activity:

Sit up or semi-recline.  Elevate the head of the bed 30 degrees.  No strenuous activity, straining or bending over for 48 hours. Sleep on your back with your head elevated for two weeks. Increase activity as tolerated with no heavy exercise for two weeks.  Please do not drive a car during the first week. Do not smoke or drink alcohol for 6 months following surgery. Do not attempt to furrow your brow.

3.  Fever:

If a temperature above 100.5 occurs contact our office.

4. Pain:

Some discomfort is normal following surgery.  If pain medication is prescribed, take only as directed.  Do not drive while using narcotic pain medications.  Often it is beneficial to take the medication after eating to help prevent nausea.

5. Diet:

Eat something when you feel ready.  Eat a soft diet requiring little or no chewing. You may want to begin with a liquid diet for the first 24 hours.  

6. Washing:

Do not get the surgical site wet for 48 hours after surgery.  Expect some drainage on your dressing, especially behind the ears. Later you may let water run over the area for brief periods.  Do not soak.  Do not let shower spray directly onto incisions or drains.

7. Wound Care:

Face lift incisions may be cleaned with dilute peroxide (50/50 water and peroxide) after 48 hours, by blotting with a cotton tipped applicator. Do not pick or scratch wounds.  Coat the sutures with a thin covering of Polysporin ointment (Double or Triple antibiotic ointment, Neosporin, Bacitracin) twice daily.  Don’t use make-up on the incision until it is fully healed.  To reduce the appearance of the scar topical silicone ointment can be applied after it is fully healed (about 2 weeks.)  (One over the counter example; Cimeosol)

8. Cleanliness and healing:

The incision will heal better if it is carefully kept clean during the healing periodIf sutures are resorbable they dissolve in two weeks. Non-resorbable sutures and staples will be removed at 5-14 days, depending on the situation.

9.  Injection site:

After having intravenous anesthesia, the arm vein may become hardened and tender.  Apply moist heat over the area for one hour three times a day for three days. Contact me if there is no improvement.

10. Nausea:

Nausea is a normal side effect of narcotic pain medications.  If you have severe nausea or vomiting you may need to stop the pain medications or to take an additional anti-nausea medication.  Call our office if you are vomiting. 

11.  Scar and Sun:

Stay out of the sun or wear a brimmed hat for 6 months.  Scars become inflamed and get thickened from sun exposure.  After the incision is healed you should use sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or greater.  The scars will become less noticeable over a 6 month period until they are almost invisible.

12. Antibiotics and Contraception:

Contraceptives may be ineffective while taking an antibiotic.Use extra protection.


Take prescriptions as directed.  The antibiotics should be taken until they are completely finished.

14.  DRAINS:

Keep drains cleaned and covered with a dressing.  Do not water or wind get in the drain site. 

View or Download Post Operative Instructions for Facelift (Rhytidectomy) (shown above)

Consent Form for Facelift (Rhytidectomy)