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5 Months After Facelift, What Could Cause Numb Feeling to Come & Go?

Sometimes I could swear the area of numbness in front of both ears is completely gone; at other times it feels numb again. What could cause this variability in sensation? Also I've noticed itching and tingling in areas around my ears that were never numb to begin with -- is this related to nerve regrowth in places that were originally numb even though not in the exact location as the paresthesias? Thanks so much for your help!

Doctor Answers (8)

5 months after facelift - what couls cause numb feeling to come & go?

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Hello! Thank you for your question! Numbness after any surgical procedure is expected for several weeks to months following. As the nerves to the area are traumatized and will then experience a temporary neuropraxia, a transient loss of nerve conduction. This usually resolves over the next 6-12 weeks, but depending on the procedure performed, sometimes much longer. Typically this should resolve by 1 year. As it goes past this date, the likelihood of the sensation returning is small. However, it can take up to 2 years. If no return from there, it is unlikely to return. It should be discussed that persistent sensory changes may develop following any surgical procedure.

The usual signs of the nerves regenerating and neuropraxia resolving is itching, followed by a burning sensation and then occasional sharp, shock-like pains. These will be normal to experience, and actually a promising sign. Usually, normal sensation returns, but is is also possible to have decreased sensation or even increased sensation to the areas affected. Re-educating nerves postoperatively is often helpful and will allow proper instruction for the affected sensory nerves - methods include using different textures to the affected areas when showering, bathing, applying lotion, etc. If bothersome, there are some medications that may be helpful, including Neurontin for pain for hypersensitivity. You can try various textures such as washcloths, loofahs, cotton sheets, etc. Massaging the areas is also beneficial for the incision to make the finest scar possible. The last place to regain the sensation will be directly adjacent to the incision/scar as the nerves will make its way from the periphery to this location. If continual pain arises, evaluation is warranted. After ruling out other causes, one rare explanation may be that a neuroma has developed and may require surgical excision. This is very unlikely unless a large sensory nerve has been transected inadvertently during the procedure. Hope that this helps! Best wishes!


Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

5 Months After Facelift

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Dear plm, thank you for your question. Swelling after a facelift may persists from weeks to months, causing bumps or asymmetries to appear. In San Diego, we monitor our patients closely for one year to address any issues. Follow up with your surgeon to check if this is swelling versus something else and if treatment is indicated. Best of Luck.

Roy A. David, MD
San Diego Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Post Face Lift Numbness

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Thank you for your question. Selling is very difficult to understand other than that after surgical swelling subsides, your activity can cause some of it to come back. Thus as you heal, swelling is leaving until you overuse the area, and some can return. Thus, you have to pay attention to what makes you swell, and what you can do to reduce the inflammation. I hope this helps.

Vivek Bansal, MD
Danville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

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Temporary numbness around ears can happen after Facelift surgery

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Temporary numbness, itching, funny sensations and heaviness can happen after any type of facelift surgery. In vast majority of cases it is temporary and as the sensory nerves grow back and swelling of the face goes down the sensation return to normal.

In rare case the numbness can be permanent and can occur due to damage of the nerve behind the ear on the neck. Luckily this is rare.

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Strange sensations are normal after facelift

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Because the skin and fat tissues are separated from a large portion of their underlying sensory nerve supply, there will almost certainly be some sensory change following facelift surgery.  The strange sensations you are describing, called collectively "dysesthesias," are typical, and while they may resolve in a matter of a few months, it is not unheard of for them to take a year or longer to go away.  Sometimes a little mild stimulation like a gentle massage or rubbing with lotion will help desensitize the tissues and expedite the resolution of dysesthesias.

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Tingling Around Ears after Facelift

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   Tingling around the ears after mini facelift at 5 months is a sign that things are still regenerating.  Kenneth Hughes, MD HughesPlasticSurgery Los Angeles, CA

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Numbness after facelift

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It is very normal to have numbness or odd sensations around the ears and cheeks after a facelift.  This typically improves in the first 3 months after your surgery, but can certainly last longer and varies with each individual.  As the sensory nerves are regrowing and reconnecting it is common to have a sensation that isn't numb but isn't normal either.  This tingling and itching are common sensations that many patients report during this recovery process and should disappear.  Facelift scars also continue to improve over this first year and this process could also be contributing to the itchy and tingling sensation around your ears.  

Jessica Kulak, MD
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Transient numbness of the face after facelift

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As the nerves "wake up" after facelift patients will notice that the face goes from feeling numb to feeling more normal, but certainly in the 1 month to 2 year time frame over which this happens there will be periods where the sensation fluctuates.  Short answer, this is normal and should fix itself over time. 

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These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.