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How Long Does the Swelling Supposed to Last After a Face Lift and Neck Lift?

My mom is 61 years old and she had a complete face lift and double chin removal, its been 4 months since she had the surgery and she still is very swollen and her neck is very stiff she can't turn her head at all. Some days she wakes up a bit less swollen and then get swollen again, she also says that she feels that her face gets very hot and it itches. Is all these normal??

Doctor Answers 27

Swelling after facelift

Swelling after a facelift is normal and expected. On average, patients can be presentable (with makeup) in 14 days. I don't recommend video appearances for 21 days and flash photography for 3 months. These are averages and so there are patients on either sides of these numbers.

In general, if you have a fuller face, you have more soft tissue than most so you'll hold on to fluid longer and have swelling after facelift longer. If you tend to bruise easily, your body has to clear the bruising so that will increase swelling in the area of the bruise more than average. Patients who have a robust immune system and heal well sometimes will swell even more because it's trying to do it too quickly and it will then take the fluid, from the increase in resources over a short period of time, time to dissipate and increase swelling after facelift. Thicker skin individuals, such as african-americans, asians, hispanics, and oily caucasians, will sometimes take longer to return to normal as well since thicker skin is like having a thicker sponge so swelling takes longer to resolve. Each person is different, but, on average, most people can plan on 14 days for noticeable swelling after facelift and to be presentable, with makeup.

In the end, the lymphatics, or drainage system, of your face has been interrupted by the surgery and recreating all these small vessels takes time and, in general, most people feel they look they're best around 3 months. Having said that, you are presentable at 14 days as almost 60% of the swelling is improved by then and 70% will improve by 6 weeks and then 80% around 3 months, on average Healing tissue takes a full year to mature in any part of the body so the last 20% will take 6-12 months depending on the person.

You can improve swelling after facelift by keeping your head elevated the first 2 weeks, applying cool compresses religiously the first week, minimizing activity after surgery, minimizing salt intake 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after surgery, using a steroid pack from your doctor, using a prescription version of arnica montana, and minimizing medications that can make you bruise 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after surgery such as aspirin, ibuprofen, herbal supplements especially green tea, gingko biloba, flax seed, fish oil, and multivitamins, especially those containing Vit E. Participating in lymphatic massages 10 days after the facelift can also help mobilize the fluid and minimize swelling; have a lymphatic massage once a week until the swelling has resolved.

Atlanta Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Facelift swelling

It can be. Facelifts can remain stiff and swollen for up to a year although this is rare. Lymphatic massage is offered through our practice aesthetician which helps in most cases.

Timothy Fee, MD
Jacksonville Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Swelling after Face Lift and Neck Lift

Some swelling and bruising is to be expected. Bruising is treated with Arnica, an herb that will be provided by our office. Swelling and bruising is maximal at 48 hours post-surgery and gradually subsides over the following 10-14 days.Your final results will occur between 6-12 months. Do not compare your progress with that of other patients. Remember that everyone’s healing process is unique. Also, if you have any questions or concerns, call your physician. 

Jose E. Barrera, MD, FACS
San Antonio Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Swelling and some stiffness is normal

The rate of swelling really depends on the extent of surgery and your recovery rate. Once the majority of swelling goes away, residual swelling subsides very gradually and most patients don't notice when it's totally gone because it's so gradual. This generally takes about a year. However, I recommend your mother sees her surgeon if she is in serious discomfort. Best of luck.

Swelling after facelift

It is generally the rule that the majority of facial swelling is gone by 4 months. In certain cases, especially with advanced deep neck techniques, the occasional patient can take longer - up to a year. Continue with your aftercare visits.

Laxmeesh Mike Nayak, MD
Saint Louis Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 135 reviews

How long does the swelling last after a face and neck lift?

 In our practice with the techniques that we employ, most of the swelling is completely resolved at 3-4 months. Depending upon the skin type, techniques used and postoperative course, there are several issues that could be going on such as seroma/ hematoma formation  and lymphatic edema. It also depends on what type of suture techniques were used in the neck. Best to check with her original plastic surgeon.
 For many examples, please see the link below to our facelift Photo  Gallery

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 72 reviews

Swelling after a facelift

In general, the swelling after a facelift/necklift is mostly resolved 4 weeks post-op. Best of luck.

Swelling Following a Facelift May Take up to 1 Year to Resolve

Swelling following facelift surgery varies from patient to patient, and depends on the surgical technique and wound healing characteristics of the patient. The majority of swelling usually resolves in about two weeks following facelift surgery.  At this point most patients can return to work and resume normal activities.  In most cases, total resolution takes about three months.  In rare cases, swelling may persist for up to a year following surgery.
It’s important to realize that more aggressive facelift procedures create more swelling which can last for longer periods of time.  Elevation of the head, decreased salt intake and physical therapy can decrease swelling and stiffness after surgery.  Swelling is normal following facelift surgery, but persistent or extreme swelling should be evaluated by your surgeon, especially if its accompanied by bruising.

Post Op Recovery After Face and Necklift

I normally have my patients stay in our post operative hotel with 24/7 recovery nursing care at which time we change the patient’s dressing and wash one’s hair and prepare them for their trip home. You can be almost self sufficient after 2 days. The stitches after surgery are taken out at 7 days and the other half are taken out at 10 days. The patient can be in make-up and back out in the public eye within 10-14 days. Exercise can resume at 3-4 weeks.

Rod J. Rohrich, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Swelling at 4 months

Depending on how much work was done under the chin swelling and stiffness can last beyond 4 months.  Burning and itching are transient signs of nerve recovery which mean that her numbness is improving.  If you have any concerns you should have her follow up with her surgeon

Sam Naficy, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 176 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.