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Are Pulling & Tightness Around Ears After Facelift Always Indicative of Nerve Damage?

Or can these sensations be caused by scar tissue formation or some other cause? I'm at 5 months after facelift and although these very uncomfortable sensations are reducing in frequency they are still quite bothersome much of the time. Numbness around the ears is now about 80% gone so I guess nerves are healing but I wish the pulling/tightness around ears would be gone too! Thanks for the info.

Doctor Answers 19

Tightness after Facelift

The complaints you have are very common for where you are in the process. Usually numbness can take 6 months to a year to return. The tightness will also resolve over the course of that same time period. However, you did have a facelift and tightness is par for the course. That is why you had a facelift in the first place most likely. That tightness is what holds things up. Hang in there. The things you are asking are great questions but ones that everyone I see in my practice have also after facelifts.

Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Tightness after Facelift

  The sensation of tightness should improve over the course of a year as the scars soften.  Massage can help those areas. This is not indicative of nerve damage but the scarring process.

Sensations around the ears after a facelift

The sensations you are feeling are due to scar tissue and 'tissue remodeling', which means the underlying scar and skin tissue under the areas of skin that were 'lifted' are healing after the procedure. Usually these sensations resolve soon after the procedure, however can take longer. Since they are reducing in frequency, they will continue to do so and should resolve completely. It can take up to 6m for the sensory nerves to return to normal around the ear. Hang in there and discuss your concerns with your plastic surgeon. Gentle massage to the area can also help with the 'tight' feeling.

Dilip D. Madnani, MD, FACS
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Sensations with Facelift

The tightness and pulling you describe is normal within the first few months after having a facelift.  Every patient heals different, but it can take up to a year for these issues to resolve.  Be sure to schedule regular follow up visits with your surgeon during this first year.

Robert E. Zaworski, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Are pulling and tightness normal?

These are very normal sensations to experience after a facelift. Most of the tightness and pulling sensations will resolve in the first few months but it can take up to a year for these sensations to resolve. I would make sure that you are following up with your surgeon to ensure that you are healing normally.

Todd C. Miller, MD
Newport Beach Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Ear Pain After Facelift

Pulling and tightness around the ear after the facelift operation is totally normal but usually does not last 5 months. Some of the tight feeling is due to the placement of the facelift scars around the ears and is related to normal scar healing and maturation. The more important reason for pulling and tightness is that most minilifts or short scar facelifts anchor the SMAS to the deep tissues around the ear and even to the ear cartilage. In some cases this will cause your symptoms but again this rarely lasts more than a month.

Paul S. Howard, MD
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Tightness after facelift


Thank you for your question,

Tightness and numbness it typical for this procedure. I would not
worry as it may take up to six months to a year for these sensations to subside. If

you are still worried, I would recommend a follow up with your board
certified plastic surgeon for peace of mind.

Good luck.

Dr. Sam Speron

Sam Speron, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon

Nerve damage?

Actually pulling and tightness around the ears are never indicative of nerve injury. The most commonly injured nerve with a face/neck lift IS below the ear, but this causes numbness of the ear, not pulling sensation. The numbness you mention, which is resolving, is probably normal. 

Andrew Stewart, MD
Charleston Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Tightness after Facelift

The tightness that you are experiencing is typical of the healing process.  This should continue to improve with time.  Please revisit with your plastic surgeon.  Nerve injury is unlikely.

Dr. ES

Facelift recovery

The sensations you are describing are attributable to recovery of sensory nerves, known as paresthesias.  This is a totally normal process after a facelift.  The improvement in symptoms should continue over the next few months.

Stephen Prendiville, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

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.