Facelift (Rhytidectomy) Pre & Post-Operative Instructions

Facelift (Rhytidectomy) | Cape Town

Pre-Operative Instructions

  • Please advise the doctor if you are taking any blood thinning medication (e.g.
    Warfarin, Disprin, Aspirin, etc.)
  • This will need to be discontinued prior to surgery as per doctor’s instructions.
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure raises the risk of bleeding complications in all forms
    of surgery – please ensure your blood pressure is well controlled prior to your surgical
  • DO NOT take any of the following medications prior to surgery:

– Anti-inflammatories (e.g. Brufen, Ibuprofen, Myprodol, Voltaren, etc.).

– Homeopathic medications (e.g. Arnica, Rescue Remedy, St John’s Wort).

– Vitamin E (oral or topical).

  • Prepare your skin for 3 weeks before surgery with Dermalac Lotion and Vitamin A, C
    & E Body Oil from Environ.
  • Take a bath or shower with antibacterial soap (or Bioscrub) on the morning of your
  • Do not apply any body lotion.
  • Regardless of whether you are having a general anesthetic or conscious sedation –
    you should not eat or drink anything for 6 hours prior to surgery.
  • If you are a smoker – NO SMOKING for 1 month prior to surgery.
  • Bring comfortable cotton underwear.

Post-Operative Instructions

  • You will overnight at Christiaan Barnard Hospital.
  • You will need someone to drive you home after your surgery and help you for 1 to 2 days.
  • You will need plenty of rest.
  • Decreased activity and pain medication may promote constipation, so you may want to add more fruit and fiber to your diet.
  • Be sure to increase your fluid intake.
  • Take pain medication as prescribed. Do not take aspirin or any products containing aspirin.
  • Do not drink alcohol when taking pain medications.
  • If you are taking vitamins with iron, resume these as tolerated.
  • Do not smoke, as smoking delays healing and increase the risk of complications.


  • Start walking as soon as possible – this helps to reduce swelling and lowers the chance of blood clots.
  • Do not drive until you are no longer taking any pain medications.
  • You may tire easily. Plan on taking it easy for the first week.
  • No strenuous activities, including sex and heavy housework, for at least 2 weeks (walking and mild stretching are fine).
  • Keep your head elevated at all times – at night on 1 more pillow than usual
  • You will be able to return to work within 14 to 21 days.

Incision Care

  • You may bath 48 hours after surgery. Avoid steam baths and saunas for several months.
  • You may shower only after your post-operative appointment (usually 5 days
  • Avoid exposing your scars to the sun for at least 12 months.
  • Always use sunblock – regardless of the weather – if you plan to go outdoors or not.
  • Keep incisions clean and inspect through Micropore daily for signs of infection or oozing.
  • Keep Steri-Strips on (until the doctor says they are no longer necessary).
  • Keep incisions clean and inspect daily for signs of infection.
  • Do not cut any stitches shorter.
  • Keep head elevated – sleep with your head propped up.
  • Do not use hair dye or have highlights until approved by a doctor (usually 6 weeks postoperatively).
  • You may use cold compresses for comfort and to help decrease the swelling.
  • Hair may be washed on the fourth day post-operatively.
  • The area of the sutures may be gently washed to loosen any blood clots in the hair.
  • Do not set hair dryer temperature on hot, as you may not have feeling in operated areas.
  • You may use makeup after the sutures are removed. Be sure to use uncontaminated (new) make-up sponges when applying foundation to cover bruising. Take care to avoid applying makeup over the incisions. It is important to gently remove all makeup with the recommended facial cleanser – splashed off with warm water.
  • You may follow your usual skincare routine – taking care to avoid applying any creams containing Vitamin E in the incision areas.
  • ScarScience, available from MASC Laser Clinic, should be applied from 6 weeks postoperatively and directly on the incision for another 3 months postoperatively.

What To Expect

  • Discomfort will be maximal in the first 3 days, improving each day thereafter.
  • Bruising, swelling, numbness, tightness and tenderness of the skin can last for 10 to 14 days or longer.
  • You may experience tightness in the neck and jaw, as well as have difficulty turning your head to the side for 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Your skin may feel dry and rough for several months.
  • Your face and ears may look and feel strange and be distorted from the swelling.
  • Men may need to shave behind their ears, where the beard-growing skin is repositioned.


  • A pale, bruised and puffy face for several weeks.
  • By the third week, you will look and feel much better.
  • The final result is not fully realised for approximately 6 months.

Follow Up Care

  • The drainage tube will be removed within 1 to 2 days.
  • Facial support bandage may be removed in 1 to 3 days.
  • Sutures are usually removed from in front of the ear in 7 to 10 days and eyelid sutures in 4 to 5 days.
  • Staples in the hairline are removed in 10 days post-operatively.
  • Sutures in the hairline will dissolve within 6 to 8 weeks.
  • A good skincare range to help maintain and improve the results of the facelift can be purchased from our qualified skin care therapist.

When To Call

  • If you have increased swelling or bruising.
  • If swelling and redness persist after a few days.
  • If you have increased redness along the incision.
  • If you have severe or increased pain not relieved by medication.
  • If you have any side effects to medications, such as rash, nausea, headache, and vomiting.
  • If you have an oral temperature over 37°C.
  • If you have any drainage from the incisions or notice a foul odor.
  • If you have bleeding from the incisions that does not stop with light pressure.

Emergency Contact: 078 867 61372