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06-23-09 | Posted by



The idea of going under the knife can be a terrifying experience, especially if you’re a virgin, and even moreso if it’s your face that is the subject of the op. To make it go smoothly, you need to prepare yourself both mentally and physically.  Less invasive techniques with fewer and smaller incisions and faster acting anesthetic agents that have fewer side effects have simplified the whole process. Today, most facelifts are done on an outpatient basis, either at a hospital, surgery center or in an accredited operating suite. Recovery usually takes place in your own home, so there is less disruption to your lifestyle and schedule. With short scar lifts and modified procedures, you can be back to your normal routine in ten days if you’re lucky.

It is normal to be anxious before surgery. Even going to the dentist is known to trigger major anxiety for some people. Stress causes hormones to be released that in turn, can result in headaches, high blood pressure, sleeplessness, and irritability. For some, the fear of having anesthesia or losing control is worse than the anxieties over the surgery itself and the outcome combined.

Outpatient surgery is not right for everyone. If you have any medical condition like diabetes or hypertension, you may require hospitalization overnight. Same-day surgery may not ideal if you live alone, or if you don’t want to bother family or friends to apply ice compresses and change your dressings. If you are a mother with small children without nannies, or if you live more than a two-hour drive from your surgeon, you may think twice about it. Ambulatory surgery puts a big burden on your caretaker, and it’s a huge favor to ask of a casual acquaintance, family member or even your best friend. You also run the risk of ruining your relationship with your caretaker if you ooze all over her Frette linens.

When getting ready for surgery, your surgeon and his staff should be available to discuss what you are and are not permitted to do before and after surgery in terms of travel, medications, foods, bathing, washing your hair, sex, sleeping on your back, etc. Most of these are non-negotiable. You need to know exactly what is expected of you, and how to manage any unforeseen symptoms that may arise like excessive bleeding or swelling. Husbands and boyfriends make notoriously bad caretakers – in fact, most men just get in the way. When in doubt, hire a professional nurse or caretaker to relieve your anxiety and offer reassurance that you are doing well.

Ask a lot of questions to make sure you know what to expect after surgery so there are no surprises. The more you know, the happier your experience will be. Happy lifting!


The following checklist has been excerpted from my first book, The Lowdown on Facelifts and Other Wrinkle Remedies (QUADRILLE). NOTE: These are just guidelines and are not meant to be a substitute for instructions your surgeon may provide.

1 month before

o  Go for your preoperative blood tests, EKG, Chest Xray as directed

o  Have your last haircut before surgery keeping hair long around the ears

o  Get your skin in peak condition with an advanced vitamin A,E,C-enriched skincare regimen

o  Most surgeons will expect full payment for surgery at this stage to confirm your date

3 weeks before

o  Stop taking all aspirin, NSAIDS, ibuprofen, and any other drugs that may cause increased bleeding

o  Avoid multi-vitamins, vitamin E, and any natural supplements including ginseng, garlic, beta carotene, or anything that may interfere with anesthesia or promote bleeding

o  If you are a smoker, go off cigarettes and nicotine substitutes entirely

o  Arrange for private duty nursing care as needed

2 weeks before

o  If requested, discontinue ERT

o  Load up on Vitamin C (1,000 – 1,500mg/day), as directed by your surgeon

o  Cut down on alcohol; that means stop at one glass or add ice or soda

o  If you are terrified of anesthesia, or have had a bad experience in the past, ask to speak with the anesthesiologist in advance

1 week before

o  This may be your last chance for highlights or coloring your hair if you are having hairline or scalp incisions

o  Buy a camouflage cream for concealing bruises

o  Order your supplies from the pharmacy (gloves, gauzes, hydrogen peroxide, cotton swabs, etc.)

o  Have your prescriptions filled (usually pain meds and antibiotics)

o  Get your brows and upper lip waxed or plucked if needed

The day before

o  Stock your fridge with broth, juices, water, teas, pasta – soft, bland foods that are easy to digest

o  Get extra pillows ready and do any furniture rearranging as needed to avoid having to use stairs

o  Pack your bag with everything you need to bring to surgery – (chin strap if ordered, oversized sunglasses, large scarf, lip balm)

o  Start your Arnica tablets or capsules, if your Doctor ordered it

o  Begin your antibiotics, if prescribed

o  Pick up a good book, your favorite magazines, Netflix, Ipod for entertainment

o  Call your surgeon’s office to confirm the time to arrive at the hospital or clinic

o  Schedule your first postop visit so you can arrange transportation

The night before

o  Remove nail polish if requested, and contact lenses

o  Set your alarm and take a sleeping pill if your doctor suggested it

o  Enjoy a leisurely dinner early – avoid salty or spicy foods or MSG

o  Wash your hair twice or with Phisohex as directed

o  You can have nothing to eat or drink after midnight or as instructed, so remove all drinks from your bedroom and put a sign as a reminder on your fridge

o  Make extra ice to have on hand

The morning of

o  Wear loose-fitting clothes and nothing that pulls over your head

o  Wash your face and brush your teeth but don’t swallow any water

o  Don’t apply any moisturizer, fragrance or makeup

o  Change your bed linens to old ones and fluff up your pillows

o  Arrange your bedside tray with everything you will need right after surgery

o  Leave your jewelry and watch at home; bring credit card, some cash for tips or taxis, and blank checks if needed

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