How Long Does It Take For The Swelling From A Cranioplasty To Go Away?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I have a question about the cranioplasty operation. I had some frontal bone augmentation done two weeks ago with acrylic material. I had it done to get rid of some irregular areas that were quite prominent on my forehead. I had a craniosynostosis repair when I was one year old. I know that swelling is to be expected but I thought most of it would be gone by now. It appears asymmetric between the two sides of my forehead and doesn’t look quite even. Am I being too optimistic about the swelling?

A: It is normal that patients are generally quite overoptimistic as to how long it takes to see the final result of the cranioplasty procedure. While two weeks may seem like an eternity when you are the patient, six to eight weeks is the realistic time period to see about 90% of the final result…and 3 months after surgery before one can make a final critical analysis. That’s how long it takes for the scalp tissue swelling to go completely away and all areas to settle. The thicker the tissues are, the more swelling and the longer it takes for it to go away…and the scalp tissues are quite thick. 

Another interesting note is the concept of bilateral (two-sided) surgery. Even though the same thing is done to both sides, the swelling that occurs is never, or rarely, the same. So any asymmetry at this point I would still judge to be swelling differences and not yet proven to be some differences in the degree of forehead symmetry from the augmentation.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis Indiana