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What can I do to prepare for a facelift?

Facial rejuvenation continues to be very popular, as we live longer and maintain active lifestyle and work longer. You may be bothered that what you see in the mirror doesn’t match how you feel inside. And lifting the sagging tissue in your face makes you look younger and better. Frequently, a facelift is the best way to get an effective and natural result that also lasts 8-10 years. But facelift can be scary because it’s a surgery and the recovery may be longer than you desire. But we see many patients who weigh the advantages and disadvantages of facelift vs. non-surgical procedures like fillers, threading, and Botox, and come to the conclusion that a facelift is the better choice for them. So if you’ve decided to undergo a facelift, what are things you can do to maximize your results and make your recovery as smooth as possible?

First, you have to be in good medical health. Many patients may have some underlying medical condition like hypertension or diabetes. As we age, it’s just more common to develop medical problems. But the critical thing is your medical condition is controlled. That means your blood pressure is steady at desired ranges. If you have high blood pressure, that means your medications must be working to maintain your blood pressure in an acceptable range. If your blood pressure continues to be elevated (ie Systolic blood pressure in 160-180’s), then you really must get with your doctor to get that under control. The reason is you are at higher risk to have bleeding complication, or worse, cardiac complications from surgery. If you have diabetes, your sugar must be well controlled. Uncontrolled sugar levels or diabetes place you at higher risk for postoperative infections and poor wound healing. Finally, any other medical conditions must be stable. Examples include rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid function, etc. If you’re on any blood thinners (ie Plavix, coumadin, etc) for heart problems, then you must coordinate the management of these medications with your doctor and facelift surgeon. It’s crucial you discuss your medical history with your surgeon.

Next, avoidance of smoking tobacco and alcohol is very important to limit postoperative complications and maximize your postop healing. Drinking alcohol socially is not a problem. But you need to stop alcohol at least two weeks before surgery and refrain from this for two weeks after surgery. Smoking places you at much higher risk of wound healing complications. If you’re a smoker, or even if you smoked a lot before but quit, you will always have higher postoperative complications than someone who has never smoked. Wound complications include flap necrosis which can result in a undesirable facelift result due to poor scarring. If you do smoke, you really need to stop smoking for minimum two months before surgery. Even then, I will counsel patients that I have to be a little less aggressive in the facelift. The priority is to improve your face but not expose you to too much risk of bad healing.

Finally, starting two weeks before facelift and continuing for two weeks after, you must stop taking any medications, herbs, and vitamins that can increase your bleeding. Your surgeon will provide a list of things to avoid. Some of the more common medications and vitamins to avoid include Motrin, Advil, ibuprofen (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications), Aspirin, fish oil, vitamin E, garlic etc. Many patients who are facelift candidates tend to be older and it’s very common for them to be on things that are good for your heart like Vitamin E, baby aspirin, and fish oil. It’s very important you stop these because it’s much more important to have a good recovery and limit postop bleeding. I also recommend my patients take Vitamin K two weeks before and two weeks after. This will help your clotting mechanism. I also will give my patients an oral dose of tranexamid acid (TXA) the night before and a dose the morning of surgery. TXA has a long history of efficacy and safety. If you have history of strokes, DVTs and other clotting problems, then you should not take this medicine. Make sure you tell your surgeon about these issues. Other optional vitamins to maximize your recovery include Vitamin C and arnica montana.

The best way to determine if you are a candidate for a facelift and what type is best for your specific anatomy and goal, is to see a board certified facial plastic or plastic surgeon. An in-office consultation allows the surgeon to carefully examine your face and neck and see whether you are a good candidate for surgery.

For more information about San Antonio facelift surgery, please visit our interactive website at Dr. Kenneth Yu Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is a qualified team of experts serving the San Antonio, Texas area. To schedule a consultation, please contact our Concierge Patient Coordinator at (866) 574-1719 or