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 (126)

Facelift Recovery

+8
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 37 reviews

Recovery from facelift takes many forms

+8

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.

Pain:

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.

Driving:

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.

Exercise:

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

Numbness:

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 11 reviews

You might also like...

Facelift recovery is 2 to 3 weeks

+4

When will I recover from a face lift?  Facelift recovery is not a grueling process but it will take 2 to 3 weeks.  Your final suture is removed 7 to 9 days after surgery, depending on the surgeon and technique used.  There are a few things to know:

1.  You're best served by allowing yourself a minimum of 2 weeks before being around other if you don't want them to notice something has been done.  Even the most natural facelift shows a little residual swelling at two weeks.  If you were your hair short or always back, give yourself 3 weeks.  I'd advise against "squeezing in" a facelift.

2.  Bruising can occur and typically lasts about 7 days and gradually moves down the neck from gravity.  Taking Arnica Montana just before and after the surgery can help with this.

3.  Noticeable swelling really only lasts about 10 days.  After that there is still some subtle fullness.  In a thinner-faced person this often looks quite nice and natural.  The facelift will continue to mature there after and you'll be looking very much like yourself, but improved, going into that third week.

4.  Numbness of the skin in front of the ear is expected.  This will resolve over several weeks time.  This is not a danger to you but it does surprise patients if they're not informed.  Numbness of the ear can also happen, but resolves. with time.

5.  Slight firmness in areas where the surgeon placed the supporting sutures under the skin will be palpable during the 2nd or 3rd week after surgery.  This is usually not visible.  It will continue to go down as the collagen matures in the new wound bed.

6.  There is not much pain involved during recovery.  Ice and tylenol is usually plenty for mild discomfort.

Best of luck.  Hope this was helpful.

Chase Lay, MD

Chase Lay, MD
Bay Area Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Going out after facelift

+3

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 13 reviews

Face lift recovery

+3

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 7 reviews

Facelift recovery is not as bad as you think

+3
  • 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

Recovery after a facelift

+3
Recovery after a facelift depends on the type of surgery performed. More extensive lifts may cause more bruising or swelling. Expect to return to normal daily activity after 5-7 days. 2 weeks after a facelift, you can start working out again. Most patients can get back to their normal social activities at 2-3 weeks. I use homeopathic treatment, herbal remedies such as arnica, and special cooling masks to expedite recovery which my patients love and appreciate.

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

Facelift downtime?

+3

You should be able to return to normal life activity within 2-3 days.  Returning back to work with makeup should be possible within a week.  You should look pretty normal and not "freaky" within 7-8 days.  Things you can do to minimize bruising...

Minimize alcohol for a week before and after surgery

Ask your surgeon for an Aqua-Cool -It is a mask that pumps 50 degree Farenheit water constantly to your face.  It really works awesome.

PreOperative and post-operative vitamins... (Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Arnica, Bromelain, Folic Acid)

Raghu Athre, MD
Houston Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Facelift recovery takes 2 weeks after surgery

+3

My first answer to this question is another question: what is your tolerance for being seen with some degree of bruising?

If you have anxiety about being seen in the early postoperative phase, my answer is 2 weeks. However, I have patients who work from home, and some who are less concerned about being seen in public. Generally, the latter group can be out and about in 4-5 days (best case scenario). This being said, some patients have a less smooth recovery due to anesthesia or other factors, and take longer.

During this period, you can carefully arrange your hair to conceal incisions and can usually apply makeup between 7-10 days after surgery. If you live in a colder climate, a turtle neck can conceal most of the bruising. In addition, Arnica Montana pills and/or cream can help decerase visible signs of brusing.

Stephen Prendiville, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 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.