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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 surgery

The sensations that you are describing are not from permanent nerve damage but from improving inflammation associated with healing.  The inflammation causes the nerves in the area not to work exactly right, and the tightness sensation should continue to improve- be patient! 

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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.

Pulling and tightness around the ears following facelift

Very sorry to hear about the uncomfortable side effects you are experiencing. It is not uncommon for any temporary nerve damage following a facelift to last 6 months to a year. In some cases, it may even last longer. If temporary nerve damage has taken place, you may feel numbness around your ears, numbness on other areas of your face, and drooping of your mouth and/or cheek. The fact that the sensations are reducing in frequency is a good sign, and they should continue to improve over time. A good way to relieve any tightness that is present (which is also normal given your post-operative time period) is with light massage. But I would only do this if you can tolerate it. I would recommend speaking with your physician for details, as he/she will be able to provide you with additional insight given your circumstances. Thank you, and best of luck with the remainder of your recovery!

Paul S. Nassif, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

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 36 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
4.5 out of 5 stars 29 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 17 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 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.

Richard J. Brown, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 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.