surgery is really four-dimensional surgery. Your face is
three-dimensional and we alter these dimensions for you at
surgery. But, unlike sculpting in stone or wood, there is a
fourth dimension the passage of time. You keep
looking better as the months go by.
Healing the three "phases"
end of the operation, your face is new and the stitches and
"cosmetic clips" hold everything in place for
healing to begin. Nature's healing glue is called scar
tissue. And, like all glue, the "drying process"
passes through phases.
Phase one, the earliest phase of
healing, lasts about a week. We call it the "Wet
Elmer's glue" phase. It's strong enough to
hold you together but it won't take any abuse. We
remove the sutures and clips at the end of this
two, the gnarly phase, varies a lot and we can't
predict how long it will last, but around three months. It
has been called the
phase. You feel hard and tight and the scars are red. It is
inevitable and a nuisance you must abide
Phase three, ("Finally!") we
call the "spider web" phase. The swelling is
gone, the scars have faded to white lines, your face is no
longer tender and the scar, like a spider's web, is
When am I
that as background, let's get practical and talk about
Marker #1. Day One after surgery - you
come back to our office. Bandages off. Home to take a
shower and wash your hair. Bruised and swollen but little
if any, pain.
Marker #2. Two weeks. After a face lift, say,
you look healed enough to be among strangers
Marker #3. Three weeks. You look okay to be out
among friends, again with good make-up. A perceptive person
might ask if your face is a little swollen. Usually,
though, your friends'; comments are positive.
"Wow, you look great. Did your lose weight?" or
Marker #4. Four months. About now,
perhaps sooner, your face begins to feel normal.
You're in phase three of healing, the
How long will it last?
Now she looked ten years
and prettier. "how long before I look
that old again?" Hard question because the answer
depends on so much - such as when your next growth spurt
will occur, what type of aging your face has, how old you
looked when you first came in and which procedures we
performed. As a rule of thumb, six to eight years. Often
longer. Some improvements, like a more attractive nose,
cheekbone implants or a chin augmentation are
Will I need
surgical touchup is useful for about one of seven patients.
It is an adjustment
which either wasn't done or couldn't be done at
the time of the original surgery. It is usually covered as
part of the original fee.
Can I keep up with the aging
can help you try to keep up with the aging process.
Cosmetic surgery can't really keep up with it because
age brings some skin and padding changes we don't know
how to fix yet. Yet, from time to time, we can perform
certain procedures which can turn the clock back once
again. While it might mean you have another face lift, more
often we can accomplish a lot with smaller
of the best of these is a new procedure we have developed.
We call it the "brightening lift". It tightens
the skin of the temple, lifts any drooping of the corner of
the eyebrow and even lifts the cheek a little more. The
recovery time is almost nothing. You comb your hair over
the little dressing and you can be off to the movies an
hour later. Best of all, there is hardly any scar to show
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Harvey W. Austin, MD
Berlin MD 21811
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