what to expect

image of model used to protect patient privacy

We know you are in the midst of a process—sorting out whether a facelift is right for you, whether this is the best time in your life for cosmetic facial surgery and who is the plastic surgeon you are most comfortable with. To give you a sense of what you can expect when you go forward with facelift surgery, we will walk you through the steps for a facelift patient in our own practice at the Center for Plastic Surgery.

The more you understand about the process, the better your experience will be.
—Dr. Price

Wonder what you'll look like during the first week? A patient of Dr. French's shares her photos.

The Initial Consultation

This all-important first step, enables you to talk about your primary areas of concern, get a sense of the plastic surgeon as he or she explains which methods may be used to create the harmonious and natural looking improvements for you. In our practice, there is no charge for this initial consultation.

At the time of the consultation, we present all the relevant options, helping you understand what each can and cannot accomplish. These options may include surgical procedures, skin care recommendations and non-surgical procedures such as laser resurfacing, fat grafting and BOTOX® Cosmetic injections. Our final recommendation may include a combination. In our practice the focus throughout the consultation is on understanding your concerns and expectations, and answering thoroughly all your questions.

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I wanted someone who would listen carefully, ask questions, and then give me his very best judgement.
—Facelift Patient of Dr. French

Visualizing Change: Computer Imaging and Photos

In some cases, we use computer imaging to give a sense of what results might look like. The patient coordinator will also share pre- and post-operative photos of patients who have had procedures similar to those proposed for your facelift.

At this time, we will take photographs to use in planning your procedure and for comparison afterwards. A member of our staff will discuss our payment policies and fees including the costs for your particular procedure and estimates for the surgical facility and anesthesia services. Insurance does not cover facial cosmetic surgery with very rare exceptions for eyelid surgery where vision is obscured. The staff also will give you copies of the surgical consent forms and explain pre-operative and post-operative care instructions. If preparation of your skin is important for the surgical procedures we're recommending, we will also set up an appointment for you with one of our skin care consultants.

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I'm so happy, I'm sending out Christmas cards with my "before" and "after" photos.
—Facelift Patient of Dr. Price

Scheduling Considerations

While most patients are able to resume a normal level of activity—including a return to work—within one to three weeks after surgery, we recommend that you allow four to six weeks for healing prior to any important function you plan to attend. This will provide ample time in case your healing is slow or there is a rare unexpected complication. We recommend that you have any hair trimming or coloring done during the week before surgery. You should wait four to six weeks after surgery before coloring your hair again. When you decide to schedule your facelift, we will schedule the required pre-operative visit.

Financing and Surgical Cost

Since facial cosmetic surgery is not covered by insurance, we have made arrangements for qualified patients to be pre-approved for a low-interest monthly payment plan. We recommend F & M Bank of Northern Virginia for patient financing, a bank that offers low interest rates. Choose 24 or 36 monthly payments. Patient privacy is guaranteed. We also accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Contact us for more information on financing.

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The pre-operative package was wonderful. It was tailored for me and it answered every single question I had.
—Facelift Patient of Dr. French

The Pre-Operative Visit

About two weeks before your scheduled facelift or facial cosmetic surgery date, you will come in for a pre-operative visit. At this time, we will review the photographs taken previously and again discuss the operative plan so that you clearly understand the procedure to be done and the goals of the surgery. Prior to this visit, you should review the pre-operative and post-operative instructions you received at the initial consultation so we can answer any questions you may have about your care and recovery. We will give you prescriptions for any post-operative pain medication, antibiotics, etc. We also will ask you to sign the surgical consent forms. This session enables you to arrive on the surgical date fully prepared for the procedure and well informed about what to expect during the post-operative period.

It's Important to Follow Pre-Surgical Instructions

There are risks in any surgical procedure, including cosmetic facelift surgery. These include the possibility of bleeding, infection, poor healing and problems with the anesthetic. Although serious reactions to medication or surgery are possible, they are extremely rare. You help reduce the risk of complications during facelift surgery by following your pre-surgical instructions exactly. It is especially important that you avoid any aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the chance of bleeding during or after facelift surgery. Smoking is a known cause of poor healing and should be avoided for two weeks prior to your facelift. You should also avoid taking any over-the-counter or prescription medication without first checking with your surgeon and anesthesiologist.

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Where We Perform Facial Cosmetic Surgery

We perform facial cosmetic surgery at two locations in the greater Washington DC area. For patients who prefer to be in Northern Virginia, we schedule surgery in the Center for Plastic Surgery's accredited outpatient surgery suite which is adjacent to our office in Northern Virginia. For patients who prefer to be closer to Maryland and the District, we perform facial cosmetic surgery at the Surgery Center of Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington DC. In either facility, our patients have the benefit of physician-administered anesthesiology and a staff that is experienced with, trained in and dedicated exclusively to the care of cosmetic surgery patients.

An overnight stay can speed recovery.

A recent trend among facelift patients is spending the first night away from home in a medical facility under the care of a registered nurse. We often recommend an overnight stay to our facelift patients—especially if two or more procedures are done in combination. In our experience, facelift patients who choose this option experience less stress and recover more quickly.

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If you were to choose the overnight stay option, we would perform surgery at the Surgery Center at Sibley Memorial Hospital. Following facelift surgery, you would be in a quiet private room, receiving personalized post-operative care by a registered nurse who specializes in cosmetic and facelift surgery. On the morning following surgery, your plastic surgeon would visit you and change your dressings prior to your discharge home.

Physician-Administered Anesthesia.

Almost all facelifts require the assistance of an anesthesiologist to ensure your safety and health. Appropriate sedation or a full general anesthetic contributes to your comfort, ensures that the surgery proceeds smoothly and reduces the risk of complications. We use only physician anesthesiologists to administer and monitor sedation.

Healing and Recovery.

Immediately after surgery you will be wrapped in a turban-type dressing that extends under the neck and chin. Drains may be used. In 24 to 48 hours, we will remove this dressing and replace it with a lighter one. You may see noticeable bruising and swelling. Your surgeon will let you know when you will be able to shower. Three to five days after surgery, we will remove any sutures around the ears; any others will be removed about seven days later. Most bruising will subside by fourteen to twenty-one days after surgery. Swelling may take longer to totally disappear.

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All surgical scars go through a period of healing for up to a year. For most facelift patients, scars from cosmetic surgery will be inconspicuous. You should be aware that surgical scars of any type, including those resulting from facelift surgery, become increasingly noticeable for about three months after surgery. During this time, the scars become somewhat red and may be raised. Over the next nine months, these scars begin to flatten, soften and fade. In rare cases, scars may remain more red or raised than normal. This is called a hypertrophic or overactive scar. Most overactive scars respond to mild topical steroid creams. In rare cases, scar revisions are necessary.

When all sutures have been removed and the wounds have healed, you may want to consult with the makeup specialist in our office about techniques to camouflage any remaining bruises. There is no charge for this service. Most patients are able to resume a normal level of activity within two to three weeks after surgery.

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