Definition and Overview
Face surgery, just like any surgical procedure, requires a series of follow-up sessions with a surgeon after the operation has been completed. As part of the overall treatment and post-operative care, follow-up is conducted for a variety of reasons including monitoring and reducing possible risks and complications.
A face surgery refers to any surgical procedure carried out on one or several parts of the face, mainly for cosmetic or reconstructive reasons. Reconstructive surgery involves the restoration of the appearance and function of the affected body part, which may have been damaged by trauma, congenital defect, or disease. An example is a skin grafting procedure that is performed for burns patients. It involves harvesting healthy skin tissues from a donor site and transplanting them to the affected area of the body.
Cosmetic surgery, on the other hand, is a procedure that enhances the appearance of certain parts of the face that may have changed due to age, fat buildup, or a physical defect that has very minimal effect on the organ’s function. Unlike reconstructive surgery, this is often an elective procedure.
Both types of face surgeries can now be performed using minimally invasive techniques, which require significantly smaller incisions and shorter recovery and downtime.
Who Should Undergo and Expected Results
A follow-up care is part of any patient’s surgical treatment and management plan. As such, all those who have gone through such procedure also undergo a follow-up.
A follow-up is needed to:
Monitor possible risks and complications arising from the surgery – All surgeries, including those that are minimally invasive, have risks, although the possibility can vary. These risks can include infection, bleeding, bruising and temporary non-use of the operated body part. Some of the complications may disappear over time without any intervention, but for patient’s safety, all of them should be carefully monitored.
Evaluate the success of the surgery – There are many ways to determine whether the surgery has been successful: Did it make the patient happy? Was the surgery completed with minimal to zero complications? Was the expectation met? Based on the evaluation, the surgeon and the patient can then discuss the need for further surgery, how to reduce complications, improve the final result, or extend follow-up care.
Determine whether the patient can go back to his regular routine – Working individuals may require a fit-to-work certificate from the surgeon. The patient also needs to know if he can pursue his regular activities after surgery, avoid them temporarily or permanently, or modify how they are done.
Know if the patient needs help from another health professional – If complications or results are beyond the scope of the surgeon, the patient may be referred to another doctor.
How Does the Procedure Work?
The schedule for a face surgery follow-up can greatly vary. Usually, if the surgery is invasive or the risks are potentially high, the surgeon is expected to meet with the patient between one and two days after the procedure. This may gradually ease to once a week, once a month, once every three months, twice a year and then annually.
However, in cases where no complications have been noted and the outcome is what both the doctor and the patient have expected, the number of follow-up sessions can be reduced to one or two, particularly if the patient is doing very well.
During the follow-up, the surgeon may:
- Remove stitches or sutures, as well as drainage tubes
- Inspect the wound and dress it if necessary
- Look for any sign of complications
- Determine whether the patient can already go off medication, continue it, or change it
- Evaluate the results of the surgery, including the patient’s satisfaction
- Identify any changes to the patient’s emotional or psychological state after surgery and make a referral to a mental health practitioner if needed.
- Counsel the patient on how to maintain the results of the procedure
- Ascertain whether the patient may require surgery soon or in succeeding years
- Refer the patient to other health professionals or doctors that can speed up or improve recovery, as well as quality of life after surgery
Possible Risks and Complications
Follow-up care is a fundamental step for anyone who has undergone surgery. But not all patients may be able to commit to it for different reasons. The patient may have moved to another state, is not happy with the result, has suffered moderate to serious complications, or is diagnosed with a condition that may prevent them from seeing the surgeon regularly. The surgeon’s clinic then needs to identify the cause and overcome the challenge.
- McGrath MH, Pomerantz J. Plastic surgery. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 69.