Facelift Recovery: What to Anticipate
Learn how to get the best Recovery from your Facelift from the UK #1 Facelift & Neck Lift expert Nizar Hamadeh.
It’s only natural to feel a little worried about the recovery process when undergoing a cosmetic procedure such as a facelift. However, taking some time to learn about facelift recovery ahead of time will help set your mind at ease, alongside allowing you to make changes that support your healing.
What are the common side effects of a facelift?
When carried out by an experienced professional, the side-effects of a facelift (also known as a rhytidectomy) can be minimal. That being said, there are certain symptoms that present themselves more often than others, such as:
- Inflammation and swelling.
- Mild discomfort and pain.
- Numbness or a tingling sensation underneath the skin
However, these procedures, especially within the world of cosmetics, have advanced considerably in recent years, which again helps to keep all side-effects to a minimum. Of course, if you are experiencing more severe (and rare) side effects, such as considerable levels of pain or bleeding, you should reach out to your plastic surgeon right away.
Otherwise, you can begin on your facelift recovery journey (and fall in love with your new, youthful reflection).
Your Facelift Recovery Explained From Day 1 to Day 30.
The recovery period for your facelift will, of course, depend on which kind of facelift you have. The most common forms of this procedure are:
Traditional Facelift. During this procedure, your plastic surgeon will make an incision in the hairline, around the ears, and in the lower lip. This is one of the more invasive forms of cosmetic surgery, meaning that it may have a longer recovery time.
Mini Facelift. As the name suggests, mini-facelifts are less invasive, and instead focus on treating wrinkles around the eyes and mouth. During this procedure, excess skin tissue is removed to ‘tighten’ the appearance of skin that may have lost elasticity over time.
Mid-facelift. This procedure is designed to target the area between the eyes and upper cheeks. As such, it is commonly the surgery of choice for patients who are particularly concerned with ‘crows feet’ and similar signs of aging.
Lower facelift. This procedure is designed to eradicate wrinkles from the lower half of your face, such as your mouth and jowls.
Recovery- Day 1
Immediately after your surgery, you are likely to experience some pain and discomfort. However, this can be managed through painkillers, and your clinician will be able to discuss which medications you can use to help with your complaints, such as swelling and inflammation. Most patients find that they are able to manage their symptoms on basic over the counter medications such as paracetamol or ibuprofen (1).
Your surgeon will have already covered the stitches and sutures with gauze, which will work to promote healing and prevent infection. You will always be required to wear a chin strap, designed to reduce swelling and inflammation. At first, this may feel a little uncomfortable due to the fact that it is a compression garment, meaning it must be quite ‘tight’ in order to function appropriately.
You should arrange to have someone take care of you for the first few days following your surgery, as complete rest will encourage quicker, more efficient healing and minimise your discomfort. You should also ask this person to pick you up after your surgery, as you may be feeling a little disorientated or uncomfortable. It also recommended that you do not drive post-surgery.
In order to keep your pain and discomfort to a minimum, it is likewise advised that you avoid consuming any food that is difficult to chew or swallow. Instead, opt for softer foods and plenty of liquids. Many studies suggest that you should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables during this time. However, foods that contain high-qualities of the mineral manganese, such as raspberries and pineapple can prove to be particularly fruitful. This is because manganese can boost your body’s production of “the amino acid proline, which is essential for collagen formation and wound healing in human skin cells” (2) There is no specific guidance as to when you can return to your usual diet, but your surgeon may be able to give you guidance based on your healing rate and any side-effects you are facing.
Facelift Recovery Week One.
Rest is typically required for two weeks following a facelift, meaning that you will likely spend a lot of time at home relaxing, resting or catching up on your sleep. Despite this, you may also find that you feel much more tired or lethargic than usual. This is because during recovery, your body “drives a higher baseline metabolic rate and draws on your nutrient stores” (3), to speed up the healing process. However, this increased cellular activity can also lead to fatigue.
After a few days, your surgeon will remove your current dressing to assess their work and how your skin is healing. Barring any complications that need addressing, they will then re-dress the area.
Bruising is one of the most common side effects of a facelift, and you will probably notice that bruising is at its worst at around day three or four. However, both swelling and bruising can be eased through the application of cold compresses, since they “encourage vasoconstriction and reduce bruising.” (4) To put it simply, the cold from the ice causes the blood vessels to constrict, stopping blood from pooling in the affected area. As a result, you may find it useful to place an ice pack or cold compress on your face for around 10 minutes a few times a day.
Facelift Recovery Week Two.
As time passes, the pain you are experiencing will gradually recede. During the second week of your recovery, you will likely still notice some bruising and swelling, but it should have subsided considerably during this time. Many patients report feeling tightness of the face. This is completely normal and is triggered by swelling and inflammation.
While you should still prioritise rest, you may be able to consider resuming activities like general household chores or heading out for a short walk. If you remain in a considerable amount of pain, you may wish to reach out to your plastic surgeon. They will be able to carry out any tests to ascertain whether or not you are on the right track for optimal results and healing, or whether further interventions are necessary.
Facelift Recovery Weeks 3 & 4.
Recovery speed varies on an individual basis. However, sutures or staples will likely be removed by your clinician three to four weeks after your procedure. This may sound a little daunting, but the process of removing sutures and staples is quick, efficient and consequently, relatively pain free. In fact, many people note a feeling of relief when they are removed.
While you may still be experiencing residual swelling, you will likely begin to feel much more like your normal self again during this time period. You will also begin to notice the results of your surgery, though many studies suggest that you will not notice the full effects of the procedure for a few months.
What to expect after Day 30.
Once sutures are removed, swelling will decrease rather quickly. You may experience minor side effects, such as tenderness and bruising for some weeks following, though you can always refer back to your clinician if you are having any problems.
Different types of Facelifts typically last for different number of years following the surgery, if you’d like to learn more about how long facelifts last please look through our article here!
Other Facelift Questions People Ask:
What to do before your procedure to make facelift recovery easier:
Before your procedure takes place, your clinician will discuss any changes they need you to make to your lifestyle ahead of time in order to facilitate a speedy recovery. For example, you may be advised to stop smoking for a period of time before and after the procedure has taken place. This is because “smoking predisposes to surgical site infections, delayed wound healing and skin necrosis in patients undergoing the most common aesthetic procedures in plastic surgery” (5).
Ideally, you should stop smoking 4-6 weeks before surgery. While it’s definitely beneficial to use this as an opportunity to quit smoking altogether, its advised that you avoid smoking for at least two-three weeks following your facelift in order to get the best results. This is because, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) consuming even a singular cigarette decreases the body’s ability to deliver necessary nutrients for post-surgical healing (6).
What to do after your procedure to make facelift recovery easier:
You can make your facelift recovery easier by simply following the advice and guidance of your doctor. This often means abiding by their rules regarding rest and recovery. While you may be keen to return to normality or your day-to-day life as soon as possible, nonadherence to your plastic surgeon’s guidance will only delay recovery.
However, you can also speed up the process by ensuring that you rest and sleep with your head in an elevated position, perhaps by stacking several pillows on top of each other. This is a combative measure used to reduce swelling and inflammation. As your healing progresses, you may also want to try out facial exercises (again recommended by your doctor), which are designed to increase mobility and reduce common surgical side effects.
Your surgeon will also give you specific guidance on a skincare routine you can follow following your procedure. For example, they may guide you through the process of ensuring your sutures remain clean, or how to replace gauze or dressing when necessary.
You should also ensure that you consume plenty of water following plastic surgery, to keep your skin hydrated and healthy. On a similar note, you should also transition into a healthier, more balanced diet where appropriate. This is because “micro-and macronutrients are both essential for optimal wound healing” (7).
How long do I have to sleep elevated after facelift?
If you have opted for a traditional facelift, you should sleep on your back with your upper body/head elevated for at least two weeks following your procedure. If you had a less invasive procedure, such as a mini-facelift, then you may not need to sleep with your head elevated for quite as long.
How long is recovery from facelift?
As documented above, recovery from facelift can take anywhere between 2-4 weeks. However, it may take a few months for you to be able to appreciate the true benefits of the procedure.
When can I go back to work after a facelift?
As mentioned previously, you should aim to rest for approximately two weeks following your facelift. This means that many patients return to work two weeks after their procedure, though you may want to take things slow at first. During this time, you will likely be feeling a lot better but your skin will likely still be bruised or swollen, which could lead to some discomfort.
How long does face stay swollen after facelift?
After a facelift, your face will likely stay swollen for 1-2 weeks. While it may be uncomfortable, this is a sign that your body is healing. The swelling is the product of swollen lymphatic vessels under the surface of your skin, which causes the skin to retain more fluid than normal. However, this fluid contains a variety of healing-boosting properties.
The recovery process is often different between the different types of Facelift because some procedures are more invasive than others. To learn more about different types of Facelifts check out this article!
How long do ears stay numb after facelift?
A loss of sensation or numbness is, as mentioned previously, a common side-effect associated with this kind of cosmetic procedure. However, the majority of patients report that their ears feel numb after a facelift, likely due to the fact that incisions are made in front of the ear. In doing so, some nerves in this region are cut, thus reducing sensation.
Typically, these symptoms will ease during the first few weeks of your recovery, though some patients report experiencing this sensation for upwards of 6 months to a year. If you are concerned, do not hesitate to reach out to a plastic surgeon who will be able to set any of your worries at bay.
When does tightness go away after facelift?
Feeling as though your skin is tight or taught is another incredibly common side-effect of a face-lift. However, as this is the product of swelling and inflammation, you will likely notice that this sensation fades away after the initial swelling goes down. Most patients report that their skin no longer feels tight a few weeks post surgery.
How long wear chin strap after facelift?
In addition to bandages and gauze, you will also have to wear a chin strap for approximately two weeks after you have had your facelift. The chin strap is in place to reduce swelling, and also adds support to the affected area. As such, it works to ensure you notice as many benefits from your procedure as possible.
Your physician will give you advice on when you can remove the chin strap, though you can take it off for short periods of time such as when you are showering.
How can I help incisions and scars appear less noticeable after a facelift?
You can help incisions and scars appear less noticeable after a facelift in various different ways. To begin with, you should ensure that you work with a reputable, certified plastic surgeon with demonstrable experience in the field. They should be able to talk at length about their professional experiences and have examples of work they’ve carried out previously.
Again, following the specific advice of your plastic surgeon will contribute to less noticeable scarring. For example, you should aim to minimise the amount of time you spend in direct sunlight. This is because scarred skin is more sensitive, meaning that exposure to sunlight could cause hyperpigmentation or inflammation on the affected area.
You may also want to invest in targeted products designed to reduce the appearance of scarring. These products “attempt to create the ideal environment for wound healing by target the three phases of wound healing: inflammation, proliferation and remodelling” 3 If you are unsure as to which products or best, or when it is safe to begin using them, speak to your plastic surgeon or consult a dermatologist.
How painful is facelift recovery?
Each and every person has a different level of tolerance for pain and discomfort, which impacts how painful you will find the facelift recovery process. However, many patients report feeling very little pain during the recovery, especially as symptoms can be eased with painkillers.
If you are looking for a top-rated Plastic Surgeon based in the UK then look no further! Dr Nizar Hamadeh is world-renowned. Book Your Free Consultation Today!
1. Navid Kalani et al, “Comparison of the Analgesic Effect of Paracetamol and Magnesium Sulfate during Surgeries”
2. Amy Goodson, “10 Evidence-Based Benefits of Manganese”
3. Kate Leslie and Megan Allen, “Health Check: why can you feel groggy days after an operation?”
4. Michael Shane Hamman, Mitchel P. Goldman, “Minimizing Bruising Following Fillers and Other Cosmetic Injectables”
5. Vasileios Theocharidis, et al, “Current evidence on the role of smoking in plastic surgery elective procedures: A systematic review and meta-analysis”.
6. World Health Organisation, “Smoking greatly increases risk of complications after surgery”.
7. Mélissa Roy, Julie A. Perry, Karen M. Cross, “Nutrition and the Plastic Surgeon: Possible Interventions and Practice Considerations”.