It’s common for patients to experience certain symptoms after a facelift — pain, bruising and swelling are the most common. These side effects are a part of the healing process and will subside over time. There are some practices designed to help speed the facelift healing process — post-operative local massage can promote a smooth recovery.
Facial Massage after a Facelift
Every individual heals differently — follow up with your surgeon about healing techniques that are best for you. Do not participate in a massage after facelift surgery if areas of your face are still scabbed and bruised from the procedure — the wound should be secure. While the open wound is healing, you can apply moisturizer or steroid cream, but consult with your surgeon about what they recommend specifically for you first!
Massage after a facelift helps to:
- Ease pain. Gentle, upward massaging can inhibit pain receptors sending signals to the brain. The warmth of the masseuse’s hands can also improve circulation, decreasing the pain in the affected area.
- Decrease swelling. Massage helps fluids move from the facial tissue into lymphatic vessels, reducing facial swelling and stimulating the immune system.
- Softens skin and reduces scarring. When the body heals from an injury, it produces a scar to protect the injured site from future harm. Massage on and around the open wound can cause infection and pain – massage only once the wound is closed. Local massage on newly healed scar tissue can reduce further tissue buildup, and can soften the skin around the scar tissue.
- Expedite the healing process. Post facelift massage helps to prevent the buildup of toxins in the affected facial area, and helps bring nutrients to the skin and tissue by improving blood circulation. Gentle, upward massage helps nourish the affected area and helps to improve facial flexibility.
The patient should be cleared from his or her surgeon before participating in a facial massage after a facelift. Massage can begin a couple days after surgery, or a month later – it depends on the patient’s specific case.
There are several types of post-operative massages, ranging from lymphatic massage to ultrasound therapy. Consult your surgeon about expert practitioners for these techniques or how to massage your own face after your facelift.
Types of Massage
This massage is equivalent to light moisturizing or gentle washing. Swedish massage is a light, upward touching of the skin that helps bring back sensation to the affected area. This is the first type of massage to practice, only after proper sanitation of the hands and area of the face around the wound. Stitches must be removed before the patient can practice Swedish massage.
A lymphatic massage after a facelift helps to ease side effects: swelling, bruising and discomfort. It is normal for areas to feel firm and thickened, and while aggressive massage can accelerate the process of inflammation, gentle fingertip massage, or lymphatic massage, will not. Lymphatic massage is a gentle, upward massage that increases blood flow, activates the lymph nodes and triggers lymph drainage. Facelift side effects will not go away right after a lymphatic massage, but when the patient’s blood circulation improves, these symptoms will cease sooner.
Deep tissue massages can hurt you after a procedure and can hurt your healing process. It is crucial to work with a certified massage therapist who is an expert in lymphatic massage. Consult your surgeon for suggestions for certified lymphatic massage therapists.
Schedule an appointment with your surgeon and have your scars evaluated in person. Post facelift massage is a good way to reduce and soften your scar, but there are also topical solutions that may help as well – your surgeon will know what choice is right for you.
A scar typically begins developing about three weeks after the surgery. Scar massage can reduce swelling within the tissue layers. You can begin scar massage when the wound is healed — when there is no risk of breaking the skin. Use lotion as a moisturizer and lubricant, so the massage can be performed without friction.
Use your index finger and middle fingers for the scar massage. Using moderate pressure, gently rub along the direction and length of the scar. Do this for five to ten minutes at least three times per day. Wear sunscreen throughout the year to protect the scar from the sun’s damaging rays. If scar massage doesn’t appear to reduce the thickness of the scar, speak with your surgeon — other treatments may be available.
If you have lumps or bumps under the skin, consult with your surgeon right away. Ultrasonic treatments can help reduce these deep scars or collections of fluid or blood. If your surgeon does not have an ultrasound machine, ask him or her for a referral to a physical therapist – someone who is well trained and understands the post-surgical healing process.
Facelift Massage Before and After
It is important to drink plenty of fluids before and after the facelift massage. After the massage, you may feel relaxed, but movement will increase blood flow and speed up the healing process (but do not exert yourself!). Make sure to sleep with your head elevated. Follow your surgeon’s specific recommendations for exercise and activity.
Consult your surgeon regarding post facelift massage techniques. Your surgeon will know what healing practices are best for you.