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Normal to Have Bilateral Numbness After Facelift?

After a Facelift, is it normal to have numbness bilaterally near the ears? Will it go away?

Doctor Answers (35)

Temporary cheek numbness is expected after facelift

+6
After a facelift it is normal to experience numbness in the skin right in front of the ear extending out about an inch. Sometimes this is called a cotton sensation by our patients. Also in response to the healing the skin will feel dry and flaky as the repairs proceed. Our aesthetician will clean up the cheek skin after three weeks with a very light microdermabrasion. The numbness subsides after several weeks and is not a problem for most. We do caution our patients about hairdryers to prevent a burn until normal sensations return.

Numbness in the ear itself, or the earlobe most often is not "normal" and indicates an injury to a nerve specific to that area. This nerve can be at risk correcting a lax neck, though with todays techniques the problem is very uncommon. Patients will notice they cannot feel the ear well when trying to put on their earrings. If this occurs it too unusually gets better, though only after many months.

Best of luck,
Peter E Johnson MD


Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Some numbness is normal, some is not normal but is foreseeable.

+5

Dear Stiff Eyelid

The side of the face is commonly numb after a facelift. This is related to the surgical dissection to elevate and lift the facial skin that is part of many facelifts. These sensory nerves tend to regenerate over time. During this time frame of 6 weeks to 6 months, it is not uncommon for patients to experience patching numbness on the sides of the face. An awarness of a pins and needles sensation heralds the return of the sensory innervation. However, this numbness can also represent compression of the Great Auricular nerve. When the side of the face and the ear lobe are both densely numb, it is usually a sign that the Great Auricular nerve has been compressed or severed during surgery. In either case, full recovery of sensation is unlikely. The compression is usually due to the maneuvers needed to tighten the neck. This type of sensory loss is much less common. However, it is my opinion that both types of sensory loss are foreseeable consequences of the facelift and as a result information regarding this possibility is included in the surgical consent.

Kenneth D. Steinsapir, MD
Los Angeles Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Skin numbness is normal but may take up to a year to improve.

+4

When we lift the skin from the underlying muscle we cut tiny nerves that provide the sensation to the sides of the face. It is a normal process and in most cases the nerves regenerate on their own. The return of sensation takes from 3 to 12 months and occasionally longer.

Some patients report a "zinging" sensation when the nerves wake up. At this time there is no treatment that will facilitate the healing of the nerves, however having proper nutrition with adequate protein intake, taking a multivitamin including C will create the necessary environment to allow the nerves to heal.

On occasion some patients may develop temporaily increased or abnormal sensation which may require the use of non narcotic medications such as Lyrica to help control this. This is exceedingly rare. The more extensive the skin elevation is the further forward on the face the sensation changes will occur.

Boris Volshteyn, MD, MS
East Brunswick Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

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This is normal and will take time to get better.

+4

Numbness after a facelift is unavoidable and will get better in time. When you do a facelift, your skin has to be elevated to expose the structures that need lifting. This invariably will interrupt the nerves that bring sensation to your skin.

The nerves will take some time to regenerate as they grow at most 1mm a day in the best conditions but are hindered by infection, inflammation, age, genetics, health, nutrition etc.

One thing that could be considered is that a larger nerve is caught by the sutures which is rare and eventually will also recover in most instances. But rarely can require removing the suture and redone.

Philip Young, MD
Bellevue Facial Plastic Surgeon
3.5 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Ear numbness after facelift

+3
Numbness around the ears is fairly common after a facelift. Anytime an incision is made in the skin, small peripheral nerves are cut. It takes time for these nerves to "reconnect" after a facelift. Feelings such as tingling or slight burning are signs of these nerves "reconnecting". Expect full return after 6 to 12 months.

Etai Funk, MD
Houston Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Numbness After A Face

+3

Temporary loss of sensation after a facelift is common and is a result of small nerves which traverse the incision site.  Expect sensation to return within 3 months to a year.

There are other sensory nerves in the face which are named nerves such as the great auricular nerve which can be affected in both a facelift and other procedures.  In other procedures where this nerve must be cut, patients did not detect a longer course to "feeling their face" than when the nerve was preserved.  Knowledge of facial anatomy is critical in preserving structures of the face and especially motor nerves so that a comprehensive lift can be performed safely.

This tells you that the face is highly innervated and full loss of sensation after a facelift is rare.

Anil R. Shah, MD
Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 65 reviews

Numbness is temporary

+3
It is normal to have temporary numbness in front of and behind the ears after a facelift/neck lift surgery. This is the result of cutting the microscopic sensory nerves around the ears. 99% of the time these will all grow back without any complications as long as the main  sensory nerve was not cut. The numbness takes two to six months  to settle down and go away.
 For many examples of facial  rejuvenation results in our practice, please see link below

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

Numbness is normal after a facelift

+3

Yes, this is a normal consequence of the healing process. It will improve over a period of months. Sometimes it will take and entire year. Pinkness of the incision lines, numbness, and areas of firmness or small lumps and bumps are part of the healing process.

Anytime we rearrange human tissue the patient will experience these normal consequences of healing.

Phillip Langsdon, MD
Germantown Facial Plastic Surgeon

Temporary numbness around the ears normal after facelift

+3

During a face lift several small branches of the posterior branch of the Greater Auricular Nerve are damaged. Usually sensation returns but it can take up to two years.

In some cases, these nerve branches are cut and the numbness is permanent.

As the nerves heal expect taht you may feel funny sensations--small electric shocks or sensation of "worms crawling under the skin." These sensations are actually a sign that the nerve is healing and are called dysesthesias.

If deep sutures were used to tighten the neck muscles and placed into the tissue behind the ear, sometimes the sutures can compress the Greater Auricular Nerve and cause numbness and pain.

See your doctor and ask if sutures were placed that could compress the posterior auricular nerve. These sutures can also be called a Giampappa suture.

Brooke R. Seckel, MD, FACS
Boston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

It should resolve completely over time

+3

Yes, numbness around the ears is expected to occur after facelift surgery. The skin around the ears is completely elevated, which removes the sensory nerve input to the overlying skin and makes it feel numb. The nerves must regrow, and they do so rather slowly, so be patient.. You will notice the area of numbness getting smaller and smaller until you regain full sensation.

The nerve that supplies sensation to the ear, the Great Auricular Nerve, can be injured during a facelift. Even if injured, you still should regain much of your sensation. It would be very unlikely that your surgeon injured the nerve on both sides. It is much more likely that you have normal numbness just from lifting the skin. Your sensation should be back to normal by 4-6 months.

Theda C. Kontis, MD
Baltimore Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 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.