What Happens After the Surgery?

Post Partum Blues & Worst Case Scenarios

Ok, so you're all done with your surgery. It's over. Done. Finished. You are so happy that you are now on the "other side" of the surgery you have been dreading for weeks or even months.

That's the good news.

I want to share with you some of the things you could possibly experience after your surgery is over and you are back at the recovery facility starting a six month long healing process.

You will probably have trouble hearing because of the bandage covering your ears and also because of all the surgery that has been done in and around the ears.

Bear in mind that what I'm about to tell you may or may not happen to you. One thing I've noticed over the years of watching people go through the healing process is that everybody heals differently. The process is easy as pie for some and the most difficult thing in the world for others.

I am going to paint the "worst case scenario" for you so you can brace yourself in advance in case you are one of the "everything always happens to me" patients.

First, for facelift patients, you will have a tight, uncomfortable Ace-type bandage that goes from the top of your head all the way around under the bottom of your chin and back up to the top of your head. There will be cotton all around the inside of the head bandage outlining your entire face and head.

You will probably have trouble hearing because of the bandage covering your ears and also because of all the surgery that has been done in and around the ears.

Your hearing will be muffled for those first couple of days after surgery while you still have the bandage on.

It will be frustrating at the very least to have muffled hearing and other discomfort around the ears due to all the trauma to that area. As a matter of fact, there have been those who brought headphones for their cd players and were very uncomfortable wearing them over their ears.

Of course, as I've said before, everyone is different, so for you, headphones might feel fine and dandy right from the get-go. I just want to give you the "possibilities" (all based upon my own experience and the experiences of the people I've worked with over the years.)

And before I leave the subject of "ears" let me say that it might be uncomfortable to wear earrings for awhile after you get home. Your ears and the areas around your ears will remain pretty numb for several weeks after surgery. Maybe even months. Just be patient with this stuff. Usually most of the feeling returns within six months to a year.

Although, I must admit that even after several years, I still have a slight tingling feeling under my right ear. But, to me, that is a very small price to pay for the results I enjoy to this day.

Okay. So, two days after you return to the recovery facility from the hospital, your bandage will be removed and someone at the retreat will help you wash your hair. You will feel a lot better when that happens.

Speaking of washing your hair, you are going to have quite a bit of dried blood in your hair after the surgery and it usually takes several washings to get all the blood out. I have found that with that first washing, you put plenty of conditioner in your hair and LEAVE IT IN until the next washing. Or some people just put leave in conditioner in their hair after washing. It seems the left-in conditioner loosens the remaining blood and helps get rid of it faster with each washing.

But even after washing your hair and having that awful bandage removed, chances are, if you're like everyone else, you will still be very uncomfortable because of the numbness around the stitched areas and the fact that you must not move your neck around unnecessarily, as you could bring on a hematoma which is a collection of blood that occurs due to too much neck and head movement

I had a big hematoma that developed on my neck the day of my surgery. Why? Because I'm an extremely animated person and couldn't for the life of me keep still like I was instructed to do by the doctor. Dr. Lev told me that for the first week after surgery, I had to move like a "row boat". I tried to figure out how the heck a row boat moves and then how to move like that. Until I finally realized that what the doctor was actually saying with that cute accent of his...is to move like a ROBOT!!

The good news about a hematoma is that it means you get to spend extra time with Dr. Lev, which isn't a bad thing at all since he's such a doll and you will love him.

But he will have to drain the excess blood that has collected which he will do when he comes to the retreat each day to see you.

The process of draining the hematoma usually doesn't hurt.because you are numb in the places that he will be draining.

If you do get a hematoma, and you're like most people, you will have bruising around that area for an extra couple of weeks after you return home.

You're going to have to sleep and rest in a partially sitting up position, which is also uncomfortable. Some people naturally sleep on their backs, and they will have less of a problem with sleeping half sitting up than others, like me, who normally sleep on their stomach or sides.

If you are like the rest of us, you will probably look at yourself in the mirror and see an image that will upset you very much. You will see a very bruised, swollen face that somewhat resembles the "old" you. You will look like you've been in a terrible accident and it will be very upsetting to you.

By the third day or so, you will probably say to yourself, something like.."What could I have POSSIBLY been thinking??????"

Every day for that first week after surgery you will no doubt be certain that you will never heal, your bruises will never go away, the swelling and numbness will never go away and you will be sure that you will look like a freak of nature for the rest of your life.

By the second week, you will notice that, in fact, your bruising and swelling is changing for the better, although not nearly fast enough for you.

If I'm in Costa Rica when you are there, I will stop by to visit you at the retreat every day and each time I will tell you that in order for you to get through this seemingly endless healing period you must KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE.

You will hear me say that every single day. KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE.

The fact is, for most people, it takes a full six months for everything to heal. As a matter of fact, I continued to change up to one year after my surgery.

So don't look at yourself after only one or two months and think that that's your end result. Or three months. Or four. Or five. Nope..you actually have to wait the ENTIRE SIX MONTHS or longer before you know what your end result will be.

So, if, for instance, you have thin hair and after your brow lift you notice that you've lost hair around the "surgeried" areas and are freaking out because you couldn't afford to lose one strand of hair and here you are with little "bald spots", just know that if you are like most people, it will probably all grow back in six months to a year.

So. That means you are going to have to get creative and figure out how to cover or deal with the bald spots.

How about a scarf or headband or tease your hair over the spot or you come up with some creative ideas that'll get you through those six to twelve months.

And please, if you figure out something really creative and wonderful, share that news with us so we can share it with others.

Next..If you are like most people, you will probably be okay to return to life and work and your family within three weeks of your surgery.

I was back to life after just two weeks. But I was only 48 then. I think it would take me longer to get back to work if I had my facelift now at age 56.

I did still have some light bruising on my neck after the two weeks, but I wore a scarf until it went away, which was another two weeks after that.

Generally speaking, the bruising you come home with after your two weeks at the recovery facility can be covered up by using something like Dermablend or some other very good concealer.

I always suggest to people to grow their hair long, below their ears so that after the surgery, their hair will cover the stitched areas. Also, when your hair is different than "before" people always think you've changed your hair and that's why you look so good.

A lot of people highlight their hair, which is also a great "camouflage" for "after."

You will definitely have scarring behind your ears and, if you have a brow lift, across the top of your crown. Some scarring goes from behind your ear into your scalp.

I remember taking muscle relaxers and sleep aids to help me through those first few days after my surgery. They were a godsend for me. Of course, I'm the biggest baby ever....without a morsel of tolerance for pain. But I must say, those pills really helped me relax and sleep the time away those first days post surgery.

Of course, then there are the people who come back from the hospital and feel just fine, mingle with the others at the retreat, go down for meals right away...etc. Frankly, I'm always amazed when I see patients like that. Where do they get the energy and strength???

For three full days after my surgery, everyone knew where they could find me....in BED!

One thing for sure that I've noticed over the years of working with plastic surgery patients is that everybody heals at their own pace. Everybody's body is different. So, you may have no bruising after a week, but be unusually swollen. Another person in your group may have virtually no evidence of swelling but be terribly bruised. Some people get antsy and feel good enough to go out after four or five days and others are still having their meals brought to them in their room.

But one thing for sure that I've noticed as well, is that the people who venture out thinking that they're feeling fine and dandy after four or five days or even a week, usually come back to the retreat after just a couple of hours and they are completely exhausted and need to recover just from the outing. Sometimes our bodies are not on the same "page" as our minds and that could be a problem.

My experience observing the patients' behavior (post surgery) over the years is very simply this.

When the mind has its way, the body will pay!

Decision as to What To Have Done.....

Dr. Lev says that not everyone is a good candidate for a full and complete facelift, which includes a brow/forehead lift. He says it all depends on your hair and the height and width of your forehead and the placement of your eyebrows. The final decision as to what surgery he will be doing for you will be determined by Dr. Lev when he sees you the day before your surgery at your face to face consultation.

Either he will come to the Che Toca Ranch to meet you and give you a hug and a consultation which usually takes about fifteen minutes (the hug takes about a minute...that leaves fourteen minutes for the consultation), or you will be taken to his office (which is in the office building attached to a really nice shopping mall called the Plaza Mayor.)

Dr. Lev is quite conservative in his approach to plastic surgery. So, to him, less is better. That's why he'll never recommend that you do anything more than the minimum amount that will give you the maximum results.

You are the ultimate "boss" as to what you have done. He doesn't care what you do, unless you ask for too much. He'll never do that.

He has an incredible reputation for a good reason..he's conservative in his approach to plastic surgery and will send you elsewhere in a heartbeat if you insist on doing something he thinks will not bring you good results or if he feels that what you want to have done will put you at unnecessary risk.

Fun Post-Surgery Project

For the first month or two after surgery, take a photo of yourself in the same position once a week. After that take a photo of yourself once a month up to six months after your surgery. You won't believe the changes you will see. The biggest changes will take place in those first few weeks after surgery. After six months, lay the photos out next to each other and you will see the incredible changes that take place from week to week and month to month. Then take another pic of yourself a year after surgery and you will probably still see a big change in the six months following that last pic you took at the six month post surgery mark.

A digital camera works best for this purpose because you can put it into your computer and compare them easily..and you will be shocked at what you see. At the year's end, you can call up all the photos you took of yourself throughout the entire process..and it's an amazing thing to behold. You may even want to take a photo every day for the first week after surgery. It's remarkable to see the changes you go through in just one week.

Well, that's it for now. I guess to wrap this up, the best, most useful piece of advice we could offer you regarding the healing process is to continue to remember to.....


Make that your mantra starting today!

Pura Vida!
Love, Didi and Dr. Lev