Facelift Recovery

Thinking about a facelift, but concerned about taking time off work. When can I go in public without looking like a freak (or like I just had facelift surgery!)?

Doctor Answers (143)

Facelift Recovery

Your recovery from a facelift will depend a great deal on the plastic surgeon you select. Start by looking at many, many before and after photos to evidence of the results a plastic surgeon has achieved. Often, the plastic surgeons with the most expertise and the most beautiful long-lasting results will also have the skills to make the initial recovery shorter with less swelling and bruising.

For very high profile patients and / or people who don't want people to know they have had surgery, I often recommend a change in hairstyle immediately before surgery. Starting to wear eyeglasses or changing your current eyeglass frame can also make a change a bit less obvious. 

Great plastic surgery won't have people asking "who is your plastic surgeon?" Instead, they will ask if you've lost weight, been on vacation, started yoga, or something else that may be responsible for you looking so wonderful. 

Follow your plastic surgeons orders very closely before and after surgery

Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

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Recovery from facelift takes many forms


Recovery from a facelift takes many forms. Physical recovery. Social Recovery. Recovery of sensation. Because it is your face, the interruption in social activities is often the hardest part of the recovery.


Most patients have only mild pain after a facelift and it is usually gone in one or two days. I give only Tylenol #3 since stronger medications are not needed.


I allow patients to drive after 4 days if they are off pain meds. Before this, some mild neck stiffness may make driving safely more difficult since you may not turn your head as far to look for cars.

Swelling and Bruising:

Recovery from a facelift involves bruising (usually down low along the neck) and swelling which increases some each day for the first 4 days after surgery. On the 5th day after surgery this begins to improve rapidly and usually by the 7th or 8th day after surgery makeup can be applied. Patients often tell me with a scarf and some sun glasses they can run quick errands. At this stage they would not necessarily want to run into a close friend if they are trying to be discrete.

Dinner With Friends:

For a patient to sit down to dinner with friends and not be asked any questions, I believe it takes about two weeks. Occasionally a very dark bruise may not be completely gone but can be effectively covered with makeup. About 80 % of the swelling is gone so the remainder is hard to detect. Sometimes a slight change is hairstyle can be used to help explain away any differences a close friend might notice.


I ask patients to wait on exercise and heavy lifting until 3 weeks after surgery. Otherwise I don't limit their activities


Mild facial numbness seems to always go away completely but takes about 9 months. Fortunately this does not bother most patients especially once they realize its temporary.

David L. Mobley, MD, FACS
Sarasota Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Facelift recovery depends on the type of facelift.


In today's world of plastic surgery there are different degrees of facelifting. It also depends upon how you wear you hair. If you only need a facelift limited to incisions around the ear and the central neck compartment is not entered then you can be presentable in 2-3 days with your hair worn in such a way to cover your suture lines. With more complete facelifts in which the central neck compartment in entered and combined with a lateral approach, the bruising is more significant. I tell my patients to count on 7-10 days before they would attend a social gathering in which they don't mind people knowing. At this point though you will look better than before surgery. The complete recovery untill all the little minor contour irregularities are resolved and the incisions have faded will be more like 3 months.

Ed Buckingham

Edward Buckingham, MD
Austin Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Going out after facelift


I usually tell my patients that if they are going to be in a “high profile” situation – such as a wedding – to allow themselves a full six weeks for healing prior to the event.  Otherwise, my patients seem to feel comfortable  with their appearance at about two weeks.

George John Alexander, MD, FACS
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Face lift recovery


Recovery from a facelift can vary tremendously , but in general you can look socially acceptable after seven to ten days.  You will not feel totally normal for six weeks.  Back to work ( depending on what you do, i.e. no heavy lifting) is about two weeks.It's easier for a woman because they can wear make-up.

Wishing you the best,

Tal Raine MD FACS

Talmage J. Raine, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Facelift recovery is not as bad as you think

  • Two weeks for most of bruising to resolve and all sutures removed.
  • One month of no heavy lifting and straining.
  • Most of the swelling is gone in the first month, but residual swelling can take a few more months to settle. The less active one is after surgery, the faster the swelling seems to resolve.
  • Patient's usually do not have pain, but more of a "tight" sensation that relaxes somewhat over the coming months.

Anand D. Patel, MD
Austin Facial Plastic Surgeon

How long is the recovery for a face lift?


The short answer is: two weeks. After two weeks, most of the bruising and swelling has resolved, and makeup can cover the scars fairly well. Obviously, the more extensive the operation, the longer the recovery. Facelift patients don't experience significant pain, and most stop taking narcotic pain medication after three to five days. The sutures are removed within a week, and patients may wash their hair and apply makeup after three days.

Maurice M. Khosh, MD
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Length of recovery after facelift surgery


The length of your recovery is directly related to the extensiveness of the procedure performed. For a traditional facelift, which involves manipulation of the fatty/muscle layer below the skin, as well as generous lifting and tightening of the skin, most patients are able to go in public 2 weeks after surgery, but camouflage makeup is almost always required. After three weeks, the vast majority of patients have experienced resolution of enough bruising and swelling to feel comfortable in public.

Hope this helps. All the best.

Sam Jejurikar, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 33 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.