Ice After Facelift

I had my SMASS facelift (and upper eyelids) done 4 days ago. My cheeks are very swallen and hard, and I wonder for how long is it helpful to use ice pads to reduce bruising/swelling. Can the skin stretch considerably from prolonged swelling? One side of the neck is very bruised, but not swallen like the cheeks. I am 49 y.o.

Doctor Answers 13

Okay to ice after facelift

You appear to have a normal amount of swelling at the 4 day postoperative point. Ice is most helpful in the first 2-3 days after surgery but it is okay to continue using it if you want. As many of the others have mentioned it is important to protect your skin from the ice pack so as to not harm the skin.

It isn't uncommon to have asymmetric bruising. This usually resolves during the first 10-14 days after surgery. Sleeping with your head elevated at least 30 degrees can help with the swelling, especially in the first few weeks.


Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

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Ice After Facelift

From the pictures it seems that you have normal amount of swelling after a Facelift and upper eyelid surgery.

Ice usually helps with swelling in the first 48 to 72 hours (do not use directly on the skin since after a Facelift the nerves are severed and you have no sensation over the skin). After that period of time icing does not change much of the swelling.

You may use black and blue ointment or any product with Arnica and Bromelin.

Sleep with your head elevated.

It takes about 4 weeks on average for a significant amount of the swelling to go away.

Ice after Facelift

Swelling and numbness after a SMAS lift can last for several weeks. Using ice will often help minimize swelling. Many surgeons will do facial fat injections at the same time, so the swelling can be even more dramatic and take longer to resolve. By 3-4 weeks, you should expect most of the swelling to resolve. Being just 4 days post-op, swelling and numbness are common. Numbness can last for several months.  More swelling on one side is common, but usually resolves with time. Good luck.

Steven L. Ringler, MD, FACS
Grand Rapids Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

To ICE or not to ICE after facelift?

Dear patient :    We always caution our facelift patients to be very careful with ice after facelift.
The face is numb, post op and ice can be a problem since the feeling does not l00% returned for several months.

You may burn your skin.   We suggest gel packs provided in our hospital (not a clinic). You are there for 3 nights in a private room. We suggest you use the gel packs for one more week while you recuperate at our private retreat.

We had a patient staying the normal 10 days at our retreat last week;she used ice after being told not to and almost had a problem but our staff saw what she was doing and stopped her immediately.

Ice after a face lift

It is best to check with your surgeon to make sure it's okay to apply ice after facelift. In our practice, we do not have patients apply ice, since the cheek area is  numb, and you cannot get feedback to make sure you're not frost biting yourself.

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 60 reviews

Ice After Facelift

These are issues you need to speak to your facelift surgeon about as everyone has different protocols; generally I like warm compresses starting 3-4 days after surgery.

Babak Azizzadeh, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Use of Ice After a Facelift

The use of ice and elevation are very helpful to reduce the swelling after facelift and blepharoplasty procedures.  I think that the effects of ice on swelling diminish after about five days.  However, many of my patients like to continue the ice after five days because it gives them some relief as they are healing.  

Michael Sundine, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Ice after facelift

Judging by your photos, it looks like you have a normal amount of swelling.  We found that ice and elevation helps.  Please do not place ice directly on the skin.  Have a cloth barrier between the cold and the skin.  Sitting in a recliner with the head up is helpful.  3 pillows will also do nicely.  You want about 30 or 45 degrees of elevation.  This all will help keep the swelling down and the pain away.  It is also OK to call your surgeon with questions. 

Jeffrey Roth, MD
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Ice after a facelift

We use ice for the first 24-48 hours and then we begin to alternate warm moist heat and ice, done 4 times per day for about 5 minutes, making sure the warm towels are not too hot to avoid burning the skin.

Julio Garcia, MD
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Recovery after facelift

It is normal to have some degree of swelling and bruising after a facelift and upper eyelid surgery. Your photos look pretty normal for being 4 days out from surgery. The bruising typically lasts 7-10 days, and the swelling is the worst the first few days after surgery and then gets better with time. Icing is helpful for the first few days after surgery, but be careful NOT to place ice or icepacks directly on your skin. Your skin will not have the same protective sensation after surgery, so place a towel between the ice and your skin, and ice for short periods at a time. Also, you can take supplements like Arnica Montana and Bromelain to help with swelling and bruising. Elevating your head at night also helps prevent further swelling.

Anita Patel, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 12 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.