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This tab discusses the hygiene issues associated with hair care during the early period of post-op when you will need to make certain adjustments to your hair hygiene routine. These issues include when you may wash your hair again after surgery, how to shampoo, condition, and dry your hair in a way that is healing compatible, as well as which products you may use on your fragile scalp and healing wounds. Beyond analyzing these issues and proposing solutions, we focus on the potential need for caregiver help during the initial days and provide various healing-friendly tips for making your showering experience more comfortable, hassle-free, and most importantly, safe.

On the other hand, this tab does not focus on any of the beauty issues involved in hair care and how you may need to change your styling approach during the early period of post-op. The issues include when you can start styling your hair as your normally do, how to wear your hair during the early phase of healing, when you may use various hair styling appliances (i.e. hair dryers, iron curlers, etc.), hair products (i.e. hairspray, mousse, etc.), and hair accessories (i.e. hair clips, pins, etc.), what issues are involved when getting a haircut after surgery, and issues involving coloring and perming your hair. To learn about these and numerous other beauty issues associated with hair care, take a stroll to the Hair Care tab of the Beauty Secrets, Potions & Techniques Room.

When Can I Start Washing My Hair?

Your ability to wash your hair will depend on your individual rate of healing and doctor’s guidelines. As is the case with general showering (discussed in the Body Care area of this room), washing your hair on day 0 post-op will be totally out of the question. During the first few days, you are going to be very drowsy, tired, and low on energy due to the anesthesia and pain medications in your system and the general physical trauma of surgery. So it comes as no surprise that most facelifters we’ve encountered felt that showering – let alone having clean hair in the hours following surgery – was the last thing on their minds on Day 0. Besides being in this state of mind and body, the main reason for not allowing you to wash your hair is that you will be sporting bandages that will be wrapped around your head. You may feel like a mummy, but you should be grateful to your bandage turban as it serves a number of very important functions in your recovery. In particular, the bandages serve to protect the incision lines and guard them from infection. Because your skin and underlying tissues have been detached, tightened, repositioned, and redraped back on your face and neck during surgery, the bandages help the skin and tissues to re-adhere to your face and neck and stay in their new position. Further, the bandages are also placed tightly to keep the swelling in check. Depending upon your doctor, you may be given permission to wash your hair right after your bandages are taken off by your doctor or his/her nurse (almost always in their office or hospital). For a strong number of women bandages are removed as early as days 1-2, and for certain other women bandage removal occurs during days 3-5 post-op. In fewer cases, bandages may be removed at the end of week 1. So your bandage removal date will dictate when you may start washing your hair. So your first hair washing session may occur on any of the above-noted timelines.

In the case that drains were used in your surgery (which is not the case for every facelifter), even after your bandages are removed some doctors may make you wait 24 hours following the removal of your drains to wash your hair (drains are usually removed within the first two days, but may remain up to 4 days following the procedure). Also, it’s important to note that some women’s bandages from surgery may be replaced with fresh ones (which can sometimes be lighter or smaller) after the first set of bandages are taken off. So if you fall into this re-bandaged camp of women, you may not be able to wash your hair just yet and will have to wait a bit longer until your doctor removes the second set of bandages (or even third set of dressings as is the case with some ladies in healing) and gives you permission to wash your hair.

It is also possible that you may not be allowed to wash your body even after your bandages are removed and may have you wait for several days or longer before hair washing can be resumed. This is because some doctors do not want you to take any chance with having water, shampoo, or soap come in contact with the incision areas until they are semi or fully closed. Certain doctors may also have you wait on washing your hair because of the fragile state of your face and neck and the possibility that a hygiene related activity as hair washing will expose these healing areas to injury. Such women whose doctors impose these restrictions have had to wait anywhere from a day to several days after bandage removal until their incision lines, face and neck areas healed some before washing their hair was possible again. Certain women have had to wait even until their sutures were removed from their ears (which is usually between days 5-10 post-op) before their doctor gave them the green light to wash their hair. In very few cases, women may also have to wait until the staples are removed from their scalp and temples (which is usually between days 10-14 post-op) before they are able to wash their hair again. So if your doctor happens to have any hair washing restrictions in place, having your bandages off will not necessarily signal that you can wash your hair right away. Please realize that these precautions are not imposed for torture, but rather to ensure and promote the best healing for you. As you realize, each surgeon has their own specific guidelines with respect to how and when you may care for your hair, face, neck, and body so it is important that you consult with your PS in advance to learn about their specific approach to hygiene and personal care for all your body regions.

Hair Washing Considerations On Suture & Staple Removal Days

Before we venture into talking about the issues, guidelines, and recommendations for hair care, it is worthwhile to mention that certain doctors may not permit you to wash your hair on the actual days on which they will remove your sutures and staples. These doctors typically require that you wait for 24 hours or so following the suture and/or staple removal before washing your hair again (of course, you can wash your hair before the suture or staple removal day). The rationale for this practice is that this waiting period gives the wounds and surrounding skin time to heal properly. Your doctor may or may not impose this restriction.

Considerations & Issues Affecting My Hair Care Routine

Once you doctor has given you the green light to wash your hair, this will not mean that you will be able to wash it in the way that you’re normally accustomed to doing in your daily routine. There are a number of considerations and issues that may potentially require you to change certain elements of your hair care routine during the early phase of post-op.

Note: If you have already been to other tabs in this room, some of the information in this section has been conveyed to you before. For those of you who have not yet visited other tabs, we have provided the relevant information again here for your added convenience. Yet, some important information contained here is unique to this tab so it is advised to read it.

Making My Shower Healing-Proof

If you have already been to the Body Care area of this room, you probably know that your post-op fragile physical condition and the various hygiene and personal care restrictions for washing yourself will create some challenges in showering yourself. To make your showering experience as comfortable and safe as possible, it would be extremely beneficial for you to consider prepping your shower and making it "healing-proof". The tips that we will discuss in this section have been recommended and adopted by a considerable number of journeywomen who attest that these suggestions made their lives a lot easier during the healing journey (for more tips and facelifter-tested wisdom on how to prep your home for the most comfortable and safest recovery, what to stock each area and room of your house with, and how to make every part of your home healing-proof, take a jog to the Transforming My Home Into The Perfect Recovery Nest Room).

Handheld Showerhead

First, you should seriously consider purchasing (or borrowing) a handheld showerhead to help you both with washing your hair and body. As you will shortly learn below, when your are finally given permission to wash your hair it is likely to be tangled up, and it may be crusty and hard because of being possibly filled with a build-up of stiffeners, antiseptics, clotted blood, saline, and perspiration. This state of your hair, coupled by your already fragile physical condition, will make it doubly difficult for you to wash your hair as you would normally. In fact, you may very well need to do several washings to get all of the built-up residue and crust out of your hair. For this reason, having caregiver assistance is highly advised in washing your hair for the first time or two (a detailed discussion on the role of the caregiver appears shortly). The use of a showerhead will give your caregiver great flexibility in rinsing your hair off with ease.

There are other important reasons for using a showerhead to enhance your post-op hair care experience. If you have not visited the Face & Neck Care area of this room yet, you should know that when washing your hair the stream of water from the showerhead is not to be directed straight on your face as this could damage the fragile skin and compromise your healing. When washing your hair, face, and neck, many doctors will also want you to do your best to keep the incision areas around your ears, hairline and scalp from getting wet. This also entails not directing the stream of water directly onto the incision lines. Complying with all of these restrictions can be a very tricky feat if you are using a regular hands-free showerhead, especially because you will not be able to twist, bend, or contort your body’s direction to avoid certain angles from the showerhead due to the fact that such activities can worsen bruising. For these reasons, getting a handheld showerhead is a really good move. With a handheld showerhead you have much more control over how to direct the water at various areas of your head and body while avoiding others. The handheld showerhead will enable you to keep the stream of water away from the incision sites while you wash your hair. The only way to achieve such specificity and do this properly is to use a handheld showerhead. Also, because it is highly advised that you have your caregiver assist you in showering for the first time or two, the use of a showerhead will give them great flexibility and enable them to rinse you off with ease (a detailed discussion on the role of the caregiver appears shortly below).

Sit Pretty On The Chair, Please!

Your showerhead is not the only new amenity you can pick up to prep your shower. You may want to consider purchasing or borrowing a small plastic chair (that can fit in your shower or bath) on which you can sit in the shower while you bathe. As you will read shortly, detangling your hair and ridding it of the built-up residue that’s collected during and after surgery is something that should really be done with the help of your caregiver during the first one or two hair washing sessions. Sitting on a chair while your caregiver helps you wash, untangle, and rinse your hair will make their job easier. This amenity is not only useful for washing your hair, but it will benefit your whole showering experience. During the first few days, you are going to be very drowsy, tired, and low on energy due to the anesthesia and pain medications in your system and the general physical trauma of surgery. The last thing that you want to happen is to slip and fall, as this can seriously offset the facelift work that you just had done and send you right back to the operating room again! So instead of standing and endangering your safety, have a seat in your shower (or bath). It may sound a bit weird, but it’s best to sit pretty and be safe than sorry. Having this kind of comfort when you shower is a great tried-and tested tip that veterans recommend to practice for a week or so until your energy level is restored to normal and you are no longer on pain medications. Further, the plastic chair has other important benefits when it comes to washing your body, so be sure to check out the Body Care area of this room to learn about them and all the issues of washing your body in post-op. If you are reading while already in post-op and didn’t think to place the chair in the shower or bath before surgery, ask your caregiver for help. You shouldn’t be lifting anything for three to four weeks after your surgery-- and that includes chairs. The chair will be a vital addition for the first few days and for added safety should continue to be used for the entire duration of the first week, or at least until you are off from your pain medications. Standing alone in the shower in a drowsy state from pain medications is dangerous and should absolutely be avoided at all cost.

Non-Slip Shower Mat

In addition to placing a plastic chair in the shower, laying a non-slip shower mat will further minimize the risk of you slipping or falling in your shower during post-op. You can also keep the mat in the shower after you stop using the plastic chair.

The following products are featured in our site:

To read about these products, go to the Shower Essentials in the Featured Products window on this page.

Caregiver Escort & Help For The First Hair Washing Session

Note: If you have already been to other tabs in this room, some of the information in this section has been conveyed to you before. For those of you who have not yet visited other tabs, we have provided the relevant information again here for your added convenience. Yet, some important information contained here is unique to this tab so it is advised to read it.

As you know you’re likely to be tired, somewhat fuzzy and tipsy from the anesthesia and painkillers, low on energy from the surgery experience, and thus unable to safely stand on your own during the first few days of post-op. All of these factors make showering alone without assistance and supervision a dangerous move. Because of your condition, there is an increased risk of you slipping and falling in the shower if you try to brave the first few showers in a standing mode. The thought of slipping should conjure up terrifying thoughts in your mind about being rushed back to the operating room table – a place you don’t want to go back to! As a result, it is imperative to exercise considerable caution when you shower during this period. So it comes as no surprise that a strong number of voyagers have their caregivers help them both in getting escorted to the bathroom to shower, as well as in being washed and rinsed off by literally having the caregivers get inside the shower with them.

The caregiver’s role becomes immediately vital from the moment you decide that you want to step out of your bed and mosey on over to the bathroom to shower. During the first 24-48 hours, this walk should not be done unassisted, as your caregiver should hold and give you support so that you can get to the bathroom safely with as little effort and strain as possible. So to be on the safe side, strategize before you make a move towards the shower. If you didn’t get a chance to do so before your surgery, ask your caregiver to place a sturdy plastic chair in the shower for you to sit on so that you don’t slip. Let your caregiver help seat you down on the plastic chair. As you will read later below, your caregiver should also serve the function of adjusting the water for the right temperature and pressure for you so that your healing is not compromised.

The idea of letting your caregiver jump into the shower with you (clothed of course, shoes optional) may sound crazy (especially if it’s not your loved one, but a professional caregiver) and totally unnecessary, but given your condition it’s way better to be safe than sorry. Moreover, this is really not the time to be self-conscious as your caregiver is here to care for you and ensure your safety – so don’t fuss over what they’re going to think of you in the nude. Given their important role in your healing, it’s definitely not where their thoughts are going to be at anyway. If you are using a professional caregiver, realize that this is part of their job and they are used to having this kind of responsibility all the time.

When it comes to washing your hair for the first time, it is highly recommended that your caregiver help you detangle your messy, matted hair (from being stuffed in a bandage) and help you wash off stubborn residue left over from the surgery such as antiseptics, stiffeners, saline, perspiration and clotted blood. All of this buildup may have made your hair really stiff and crusty and often requires women to do several hair washing sessions. Women have let their caregivers literally get inside the shower and stand behind them to help in this challenge. If you go for the plastic chair, this will obviously make the caregiver’s job that much easier. Your caregiver will play the vital role of softening up your stiff knots and detangling them with a pick, comb or brush, while being careful not to touch or otherwise disturb any of the incision lines around the ears, temples, and scalp. As your scalp will be sensitive and may have staples running into it, your caregiver will also prove to be a godsend by shampooing your scalp gently so as to not agitate it or disturb the healing process. As you can imagine, if you were to wash your hair solo without being able to see what you are doing (and don’t forget that you may still be weak and drowsy at this point) you would not be able to be nearly as careful in following these precautions as well as another person who is actually standing over you. Further, your caregiver can also ensure that as little water and shampoo comes in contact with your incisions by being able to precisely direct the showerhead’s stream and applying the shampoo carefully into your hair.

Finally, if you have yet to visit the Body Care area of this room, the caregiver can be a real blessing in this aspect of your hygiene routine because you want to avoid doing any unnecessary straining, flexing, bending, tilting of your head and neck to soap up your body and rinse off in the shower. All of these activities may worsen your bruising, so letting your caregiver soap you up in all the hard to reach areas like your back and lower body will pay great dividends in ensuring the best healing. Also, if you are going to make the smart move and get a handheld showerhead, your caregiver will make the task of getting rinsed off very easy and again help prevent additional bruising from unneeded twisting and turning to get the soap off. Because you will not need to overexert yourself with the help of the caregiver, you will effectively be minimizing the risk of slipping in the shower. Your caregiver can also be an angel by helping you towel off. As you may conclude, having someone with you in the early days of recovery will be infinitely beneficial and safer when it comes to helping you shower, wash your hair, and perform other hygiene and personal care routines.

You can resume washing your hair alone again after the first shower when you will need the most help in getting your hair detangled and rid of the stiff buildup that has collected in your hair during and after the surgery. Yet, it is recommended that you rely on someone to help you into the shower and assist you inside for washing and rinsing during day 1 and day 2 (that is, if you still have your caregiver around at that point). Sometime during days 2-3, the effects of the anesthesia typically fade away, use of painkillers is lessened or eliminated, and a good number of women begin to shower completely unassisted. However, if you are showering alone for the first time around Day 3, realize that you shouldn’t try to wash your hair as thoroughly as you would normally because doing so could agitate your sensitive scalp and the incision sites. Similarly, you shouldn’t try to wash and reach every nook and cranny around your body because doing so could aggravate bruising and prolong your healing journey.

Setting The Water Temperature & Pressure

Many doctors recommend that you take extra care when dealing with your hair and scalp, as they will be very sensitive and prone to damage during the early stages of your healing. Whether you can begin washing your hair on day 1 or later, you will want to be extra careful about keeping the water temperature at a lukewarm to moderate setting because hot or steamy water could add to the swelling you’re already experiencing. That's because the hot water increases circulation to the entire body including the areas treated by your facelift. Also, because your skin will be numb, you may accidentally burn delicate skin without realizing it if you shower in hot water at this early stage of healing. So before stepping into the shower, it is a good idea to have your caregiver test the water temperature, which should be lukewarm at all times when wetting, washing, and rinsing your hair (including other parts of your body). Even if you are accustomed to using hot water, you will still want to keep the temperature moderate during the period when swelling is intense (typically for the first 1-2 weeks of post-op). For these reason, hot baths, jacuzzis, and saunas are definitely not on the menu during the first 2-3 weeks of recovery (and even longer, depending on your doctor’s guidelines).

You will also want to make sure that the water pressure is not excessive, as it shouldn’t be flowing fast and furious like the Niagara Falls. Rather, have your caregiver adjust the stream so that it flows like a gentle stream. A high-pressure setting where the stream is vigorous can damage your sensitive scalp and weaken the staples along the scalp or sutures along the hair lines. As an added benefit, having the water pressure on low will reduce the amount of water splashing on your incision areas. If you are washing your hair during the initial three days following surgery, we suggest that you ask your caregiver to help with all these tasks because you may still feel lightheaded and weak from the anesthesia, painkillers and general physical and mental toll of the surgery.

Time Your Hair Care Routine With Rest Of Hygiene Regimen

Much like in real life, a good tip to follow during the early days of post-op is to do your hair care routine at the same time as when you will have your next shower, or brush your teeth. By doing all of your hygiene regimen at the same time, you will conserve your energies since you will not need to get up at different times from your bed and trouble yourself to go to the bathroom. The need to save your energies and rest is particularly important during the first few days of post-op when a good number of women are low on energy, a bit out of it, and generally not in the mood to do much.

Potential Hair Issues During First Hair Washings

During the first few hair washings, you may come across some potential hair-raising issues. To help you be prepared for these possibilities, we discuss these issues below.

Yipes…My Hair’s Matted & Stiff!

Regardless of when you are given the green light to wash, the first one to few times that you wash your hair may be quite an intense challenge due to its unique (to say the least) post-surgical condition. Depending on your situation, your hair has been stuffed inside your mummy bandage headgear anywhere from 1 to 5 days (not to mention that you’ve been laying on your head for that long), which may cause it to be quite matted and tangled up. Adding to the mess, your hair might be stiff and even quite hard as there may be stiffeners (used to hold the hair in place and keep it out of the way during surgery), antiseptics, saline, and clotted blood left over in your hair from the surgery. Also, perspiration and more blood may have continued to build up after the surgery until your bandages are removed. It is not advised to try and wash all of this crusty residue out of your hair at once in a single wash and rinse session, as doing so may cause damage to incisions that have yet to fully close. A good and cautious approach is to wash in a gradual fashion over the course of several hair washing sessions that are spaced out. Because of the sheer challenge of getting all of this buildup out of your hair, it is highly advised that your caregiver helps you detangle, wash, condition, and rinse your hair off as many times as it takes to get it all out. Further, your hair may be dryer post-op due to effects of anesthesia. As certain doctors give a special shampoo to use before surgery, such shampoos may contribute to this dryness. For this reason, you may need to get a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner for your hair. We will shortly discuss everything you need to consider in the very first few washings of your hair along with suggested guidelines. A discussion on hair dryness and other potential hair problems that you may experience is found in the Hair Issues area of the Healing Journey: Symptoms, Issues & Complications Room.

My Hair’s Going Down The Drain!

A number of women reported that when they washed their hair for the first one or few times, this resulted in some hair falling out. This hair that falls and any other hair loss is a temporary condition in most cases and it typically occurs around the incision lines in the mid hairline near the temples or in areas where the incisions run into the scalp (mostly behind the ears). Fortunately, the amount of hair that usually falls is not considerable (although it can be in certain cases) and any thinning that may occur can be hidden with your own hair or disguised with various products until the hair grows back again within a few months (permanent hair loss is very rare). We discuss various products for treating such hair loss (i.e. hair loss concealers, liquid hair mascaras, thinning hair shampoos, clip-in-hair, hair extensions, weaves) in the Beauty Solutions For Temporary Hair Thinning & Loss section (in the Hair Care tab) of the Beauty Secrets, Potions & Techniques For The Journey Room. However, we should reinforce the point that only certain women experience hair loss after surgery. It is also important to remember that any hair loss that does occur is by and large temporary for the majority of facelifters with the problem, and it may even be limited to the first few hair washings. So it may not even be necessary to use any hair loss products even if any hair falls down when you first wash it. There are various reasons for temporary hair loss, including the natural texture of one’s skin being more prone to hair loss, the trauma from the surgery actually injuring hair follicles, shaving of the hair to enable hair incisions, anesthesia, and crusting along incision lines weighing on the hair and pulling it out when the crusts peel off the incisions. A full examination of all the causes and issues related to hair loss after facelift surgery can be found in the Temporary Hair Loss & Hairline Changes section in the Healing Journey: Symptoms, Complications, & Solutions Room.

Ultimately, if you see any hair going down the drain when you wash it during the first few hair sessions, do your best to not worry as this will usually resolve itself within a few months. We sympathize and understand, as we know that this is an emotional time and any hair being lost can add to the issues you’re already dealing with. Courage ladies.

How Do I Wash My Hair?

A Pre-Shampoo Soak-n-Rinse For My First Hair Session

For the very first hair washing session, some ladies recommend that you soak and rinse you hair first in lukewarm water for a good few minutes before shampooing as a way of loosening up your knots and softening and breaking up the crusty, stiff residue in your hair. Of course, you will want to make sure that the stream is gentle and is not hitting your fragile face or incision sites directly. It would be advised to let your caregiver do all of this for you to make your life easier. Your life can be further simplified with a handheld showerhead being used to direct the stream and a plastic chair that will enable you to sit down during this pre-shampoo soak and rinse. Due to the tangled and crusty mess that one’s hair can be in, some voyagers have had to repeat this process of a pre-shampoo rinse, shampooing, and rinse off one or more times to get all the built-up residue out of their hair. Yet, it is advised to space these hair sessions apart in time because trying to get everything out of your hair in one session can put stress on your scalp and incisions that run into your hair. Most importantly, rushing this process can put undue stress – a negative for healing - on you. For these reasons, it is beneficial to take your time and be patient if you have to repeat the wash your hair more than once to restore it to its normal self.

How Do I Shampoo My Hair?

Due to the sensitive state of your scalp, you will need to make some adjustments in both the type of shampoo that you use and to the way in which you shampoo your hair up during the initial phase of healing. These changes and additional precautions may have you needing to spend more time than normal in the shower during the early days of recovery. As you will shortly read below in our discussion on shampoo products, the shampoos that you may use will need to be mild, gentle and fragrance-free like Neutrogena or baby shampoos such as Johnson & Johnson’s Baby shampoo. While you may normally be used to massaging the scalp, working your hair into a rich lather, and rubbing your fingers through your hair and scalp in quick strokes to shampoo it, these techniques will need to be put on hold during the early part of your healing. Instead, you will need to use really slow and gentle motions to get the shampoo in. To be on the safe side, it is recommended that you use the soft ends of your fingers – and not the nails - to softly and lightly spread the shampoo on the hair and scalp without trying to run your fingers deeply through your hair. During the shampooing routine, you will need to be careful to avoid stretching your scalp, tapping it hard, putting pressure on it, or scrubbing or scratching it with your nails. While shampooing, you should not tug, pull, squeeze or clump the hair together in your efforts to clean it. All of these activities that we’ve mentioned can cause trauma to your delicate skin, disturb your incisions, and prolong the healing process. Some journeywomen have said that to avoid causing any injury to the scalp, they recommend only using their palms (instead of fingers) to shampoo the hair. Of course, we recommend that you let your caregiver be the angel who takes care of the shampooing and all that jazz for you so that your healing process is safeguarded to the max.

In addition to the above precautions, when washing you will also need to be careful not to touch, put pressure on, scratch, tug on or otherwise disturb any of the incisions, sutures, staples, or even drainage tubes that may still be in place on the day you wash your hair. The incision areas to watch for especially are the ones that run into your scalp, although you will need to exercise the same kind of care with those that are in front and behind the ears and the incisions that you may have in your temple areas. Even if your doctor has given you the go ahead to wash your hair, it is likely that he or she will want you to do your best to avoid getting shampoo, soap or water on our around the incision lines. While not a life and death issue, you should do your best to stay away from the incision sites. This is where the caregiver being inside the shower with you can really be vital, as they clearly will have an infinitely superior view than you of your head and will be able to shampoo the hair with less risk of injuring your incisions. As we’ve mentioned, because certain doctors are categorically against the idea of getting any water on soap on the incisions, patients of such doctors will not be allowed to wash their hair until the incisions have healed some or fully. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to wash the specific areas around your staples and sutures as well as give you tips on how to tend to your incisions and scabs that may have formed (we have created an area in this very room devoted to Incision, Wound & Scar Care). As instructions for washing your hair vary from doctor to doctor, you should always follow your PS’s instructions and make sure that you know exactly what they recommend in your particular case and healing progress.

As is the case with washing your body, when shampooing you should avoid doing any unnecessary straining, flexing, twisting, tilting, or turning of your head and neck to wash and detangle your hair or to avoid getting water or shampoo on your incisions. All of these activities may worsen your bruising. For this reason, having a caregiver help you during the initial hair washing session while you sit on a chair will ensure the best healing. Also, if you are going to make the smart move and get a handheld showerhead, your caregiver will be able to direct it at specific areas of your head with ease without having you need to move your head constantly to avoid getting your incision lines or fragile face wet.

For maximum safety, following the hair washing guidelines discussed in this section is recommended until the sutures and staples have been removed and your incision sites have healed – which should between 1 week and the end of the second week of post-op.

Finally, when it comes to the first time you are washing your hair it is important to highlight that due to the possibility that your hair is tangled and filled with residue from the surgery you will probably not be able to get rid of all the buildup in one wash and rinse session. It is strongly suggested that you not try to wash everything in one sitting because doing so may cause damage to incisions that have yet to fully close. So be patient and come back later to wash your hair again. This may be half a day later, the following day, or really whenever you feel up to it. The important message to retain from all of this is that during the first few times that you wash your hair, the focus should not be on deep cleansing and getting your hair to that super sparkly clean state that you would normally go for. The main objective here is to do the least to get your hair in a state where you feel clean without endangering the healing process by causing trauma to the scalp and the incision lines. During the initial phase of the healing (especially the first week of post-op), you are likely to be weak and tired so you should conserve your energies for the actual healing and not worry too much about the cleanliness of your hair.

Which Shampoos Can I Use?

The shampoos that are recommended by doctors and women for use during the early phase of healing are mild and gentle, as well as free of fragrances, dyes, alcohol, and even color (if possible). Many journeywomen use baby shampoos, as they will not be harsh on your scalp, incision lines, and hair. Johnson and Johnson’s Baby shampoo and Neutrogena get major thumbs up from seasoned veterans and doctors. It is also recommended that the shampoo that you use in post-op have moisturizing qualities, since your hair may be dryer after your surgery (a comprehensive discussion on hair dryness, limpness, and other hair issues that you may confront after surgery can be found in the Hair Issues section in the Healing Journey: Symptoms, Issues & Complications Room). Moreover, it is important that your shampoo not be enriched with vitamin E (frequently cited in ingredients as tochopherol), as it is an anti-coagulant that can cause bleeding and interfere with clotting. So be sure to read the label on shampoo bottles that you are contemplating using to ensure that they do not have vitamin E in their composition.

It is worthwhile noting that there are special shampoos, deep conditioners, hair masks, hair reconstructors and hair oils that can be helpful for treating dry hair, including specially formulated shampoos, conditioners, hair masks, hair reconstructors, and hair oils. Because the composition of these products may irritate your healing tissues during the early phase of post-op, these treatments should only be introduced into your healing journey during the second week of post-op (around days 10-14) once you have had a chance to heal some. We discuss these hair treatments and provide product recommendations in the Beauty Solutions For Hair Dryness section (in the Hair Care tab) of the Beauty Secrets, Potions & Techniques For The Journey Room.

The following are some shampoo brands that may be used during the early phase of post-op. These products have either been tried, tested and recommended by fellow facelifters, or found through our research and thus may be good additions to your healing journey. If you have any products to recommend, tips, ideas, or any feedback that you would like to share, please email us at products@makemeheal.com. Be sure to consult with your doctor about any products that you are considering using during your healing journey.

The following products are featured in our site:

To read about these products, go to the Hair Washing Essentials in the Featured Products window on this page.

How Do I Condition & Detangle My Hair?

Depending on your post-op hair state, you may very well have some serious knots due to it having been stuffed inside bandages. These knots may be particularly hard to detangle due to the buildup of stiffeners, antiseptics, clotted blood, saline, and perspiration in your hair. To unsnarl this mess, you may use a mild, fragrance-free (and color-free if possible) conditioner (a detailed discussion on recommended conditioners follows in another section below) that you carefully massage into your hair using the same kind of guidelines and precautions discussed in the section discussing shampooing. To maximize the effectiveness of your conditioner, you should read the product instructions so that you may know how long you may need to leave the conditioner in your hair before rinsing off. Once your conditioner (regular or leave-in) has absorbed well into the hair, you may use a pick or wide-tooth comb to detangle the knots (the comb and pick are good choices as they can detangle hair without increasing tension on the scalp). This should be done with extreme care, as you do not want to rub your comb or pick hard into your scalp, pull or tug your hair, or risk catching any of your sutures or staples. For the very first hair session or two when your hair can be particularly messy, the combing step is really best left to your caregiver to do for your added safety (a detailed discussion on how to comb or brush your hair follows shortly). We discuss various brands of conditioners in the Which Conditioners & Detanglers Can I Use? section that follows.

Some journeywomen have recommended using detanglers, a specific category of conditioners that are especially designed to address hair that is very matted and tangled up. Acidic in composition (many detanglers have a low pH with ranges of 2.5-3.5), the primary function of detanglers is to unsnarl tangles and knots in the hair and make it easier to comb. When applied on the hair, detanglers will close the cuticle of the hair that causes the hair to get tangled and matted. Some detanglers can also make the hair shinier and more elastic, as well as protect the hairshaft. When massaged into the hair, a detangler may either be washed right away or will need to be left in the hair for a few minutes before it is rinsed off. We provide brand recommendations for detanglers in the Which Conditioners & Detanglers Can I Use? discussion that follows.

Which Conditioners & Detanglers Can I Use?

The conditioners that are advised during the early phase of post-op are mild, fragrance free, and have no harsh dyes and chemicals. It would also be a good idea for you to use products that are alcohol-free. Following surgery, your hair may also be dry and the shock of the surgery may cause its texture to change temporarily, and even appear limp and lifeless. To treat these temporary issues, it is recommended to choose products that have moisturizing and revitalizing properties. As with all hygiene products that you use during post-op, you should make sure that your conditioner or detangler is not enriched with vitamin E (frequently cited in ingredients as tochopherol) which is an anti-coagulant that can interfere with healing.
It is worthwhile noting that there are special shampoos, deep conditioners, hair masks, hair reconstructors and hair oils that can be helpful for treating dry hair, including specially formulated shampoos, conditioners, hair masks, hair reconstructors, and hair oils. Because the composition of these products may irritate your healing tissues during the early phase of post-op, these treatments should only be introduced into your healing journey during the second week of post-op (around days 10-14) once you have had a chance to heal some. We discuss these hair treatments and provide product recommendations in the
Beauty Solutions For Hair Dryness section (in the Hair Care tab) of the Beauty Secrets, Potions & Techniques For The Journey Room.

The following are some conditioner and detangler brands that may be used during the early phase of post-op. These products have either been tried, tested and recommended by fellow facelifters, or found through our research and thus may be good additions to your healing journey. If you have any products to recommend, tips, ideas, or any feedback that you would like to share, please email us at products@makemeheal.com. Be sure to consult with your doctor about any products that you are considering using during your healing journey.

The following products are featured in our site:

To read about these products, go to the Hair Conditioning Essentials in the Featured Products window on this page.

To read about these products, go to the Hair Detangling Essentials in the Featured Products window on this page.

How Do I Rinse Off?

When it comes time to rinse out your hair, please make sure to wash out all of the shampoo and conditioner thoroughly using only lukewarm water in a gentle, low-pressure stream. Due to the fragile state of your facial skin, the water stream should not be directed straight on your face but rather it should be aimed at the back of your head. At the same time, you should also be careful not to point the stream directly at the still healing incision lines. For these reasons, getting a handheld showerhead is a really good move due to the control that you have in aiming the water at particular areas of your head while avoiding sensitive regions. For obvious reasons, letting your caregiver rinse your hair off during the first few hair washing sessions will be very beneficial as he or she will clearly have a far superior view than you of your head and will be able to rinse off the shampoo from you hair with much less risk of injuring your scalp or incisions. Finally, it is worthwhile to mention again that due to the knotted and stiff condition of the hair after surgery, rinsing this buildup is best done over several hair washing sessions that are spaced out over a day or longer depending on how well you feel.

How Do I Brush/Comb My Hair?

During the initial days of healing, brushing or combing your hair should be undertaken with the goal of doing the least to make yourself feel fresh and kempt. As journeywomen have said, having the perfect hairstyle in the initial period of recovery is not going to matter to you at all. Your focus should be on taking the safety measures that maximize the healing so that you can get back to the real world again. So it is suggested that you limit the number of times you brush or comb your hair during the first few days until your incisions and scalp heal some. Of course, if you feel that brushing or combing your hair will make you get through this time more easily then by all means do so – but do so carefully. Women have indeed said that being able to have clean and tidy hair again made them feel wonderful and gave them an emotional boost. However, you will need to be very gentle and conscious not to pull or tug on your hair and scalp too hard when brushing or combing. And when you do brush or comb your hair gently, you are advised to brush or comb backwards instead of forwards. The downward motion of the brush or comb can cause undue tension on the hair and scalp, disturbing areas that haven't completely healed yet. Moreover, please be careful that you do not catch any of your sutures or staples when you are brushing or combing. You may also want to consider taking the precaution of avoiding going deep to the level where your brush or comb is touching or rubbing the scalp. Also, you may want to try to avoid brushing or combing the areas of your scalp where your incision lines run. A light brush with soft ends is advised for brushing, so that it will not disturb your incisions or put stress on the sensitive scalp. A pick or wide-tooth comb is recommended for combing because they will not increase the tension on your scalp. As a final note, we will say that we’ve encountered a few women and doctors who actually recommend that you refrain from brushing or combing your hair until the end of the first week.

How Do I Dry My Hair?

Towel Drying

Drying your hair in the initial post-op period is going to require some adjustments to your normal routine. Following your shower, towel drying your hair should using a clean and dry towel with slow and gentle motions (as far as learning about drying your face and neck, be sure to visit the Face & Neck Care area of this room. It is recommended not to use the same towel for your body, so that you can limit any exposure to germs. It is important that you do not dry your head with abrupt, vigorous motions or apply too much pressure because it may be painful during this fragile post-surgical time. Any excessive pressure might also cause unwanted bruises to form. While towel drying, please also be very careful not to catch the towel on any of your stitches, staples, and drains that may still be in you incision lines. It is also recommended that you pat-dry the incision areas with your towel when drying your head, as they may have gotten moist or wet as well. Just as you would do when towel drying your body, you should also limit the amount of twisting and turning of your head and neck when drying off your hair. We suggest getting caregiver assistance with this task, especially during the initial days when any unnecessary movements to dry yourself could worsen bruising. As an added measure, you should consider having your caregiver help you towel off while still sitting on the chair in the shower. You can alternatively sit on the toilet cover, which will make drying your head and body much easier. Of course, these guidelines should not substitute for specific instructions from your doctor about drying your hair. So make sure you speak with your PS on the best way to dry your hair as well.

Air Drying

As you will read below, there will likely be restrictions on drying your hair using a blow dryer due to the sensitivity of your scalp and the possibility that the heat will accidentally cause the skin to burn. If you want to avoid any issues at all you can always take the natural and conservative approach that a good number of voyagers take and just let your hair air-dry au natural. This is especially advisable in the early part of the healing journey when you’re probably going to hang around the house and are not going to be heading into any social events in need of a specially styled do.

When Can I Use A Hair Dryer?

If you use a hair dryer, you’re probably accustomed to drying your hair with heat. During the early post-op journey, women – if they are even allowed to use a hair dryer at all – are instructed to use it only on a low, cool setting. A good number of doctors will not allow women to use a hair dryer at all unless it has a cool setting. Then, there are some doctors we’ve encountered who recommend not using a dryer at all until 5-7 days post-op. Part of the reason for not using your dryer on high or on any heat setting is because parts of your face and scalp may still be numb and you may run the risk of burning yourself accidentally. Moreover, the heat and strong air can also injure the healing tissue. If you do opt to use a hair dryer, it is advisable to hold it at a decent distance away from your scalp (about 12-15 inches) so you do not get any heat on your scalp, incision sites, and staples.

Women may resume their normal routine with respect to a hair dryer after the staples and sutures have been removed (at which point a hair dryer will not heat up the metal staples), which typically should be done by 2 weeks post-op. However, if one’s scalp continues to be numb at such time it may be a good idea to hold off using a hair dryer on heat until sensitivity is regained so that you do not risk burning any skin and damaging healing tissues. If you are going to use a hair dryer anyway around this period, please use the utmost care and hold the hair dryer at a good distance away from your scalp.

 

Use a hand-held shower head, a shower chair and a shower mat
Wash your hair before your doctor says it is safe for you to do so

Worry about a caregiver helping you take a shower
Worry if you see some hair going down the drain your first few shower sessions
Use the hot setting when using a hair dryer

 

 

Shower Essentials

Hansgrohe White Tastica Essential Drenching Shower by Target

Adjustable Bath & Shower Seat (With Back) by Rubbermaid

Non-Slip Shower Mat

Hair Washing Essentials

Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo

Neutrogena Clean Balance Shampoo

Clinique’s Gentle Wash Moisturizing Shampoo

L’Oreal Kids Extra Gentle Shampoo Plus Conditioner

Finesse Shampoo, Enhancing for Normal Hair

DHS Clear shampoo

Hair Conditioning Essentials

Neutrogena Conditioner Detangling Formula

Paul Mitchell’s The Conditioner

Clinique Super Condition Restoring Conditioner

Infusium 23® Moisturizing Revitalizing Conditioner

Hair Detangling Essentials

Johnson & Johnson’s Kids No More Tangles

L’Anza Lite Detangler

L’Anza Dry Hair Detangler

Paul Mitchell’s The Detangler

Note: It is generally recommended to get your doctor's opinion about products that you are considering using during your healing journey.

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