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Numbness and Pain 3 Months After Face Lift?

I am 3 months out from my cheek/neck lift. The left side of my face feels almost normal with just a small amount of numbness in the cheek and behind the ear and under the chin. That all feels like it's healing fine. However, on the right side the tip of the earlobe is still numb, I have pain and spots of numbness behind the ear and stiffness down the side of the neck and at the back of my jaw. I'm mainly worried as it hasn't changed much in the past couple of weeks. Should this resolve?

Doctor Answers (15)

Numbness and pain 3 months after facelift?

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Hello! Thank you for your question! Numbness after any surgical procedure is expected for several weeks to months following. As the nerves to the area are traumatized and will then experience a temporary neuropraxia, a transient loss of nerve conduction. This usually resolves over the next 6-12 weeks, but depending on the procedure performed, sometimes much longer. Typically this should resolve by 1 year. As it goes past this date, the likelihood of the sensation returning is small. However, it can take up to 2 years. If no return from there, it is unlikely to return. It should be discussed that persistent sensory changes may develop following any surgical procedure.

The usual signs of the nerves regenerating and neuropraxia resolving is itching, followed by a burning sensation and then occasional sharp, shock-like pains. These will be normal to experience, and actually a promising sign. Usually, normal sensation returns, but is is also possible to have decreased sensation or even increased sensation to the areas affected. Re-educating nerves postoperatively is often helpful and will allow proper instruction for the affected sensory nerves - methods include using different textures to the affected areas when showering, bathing, applying lotion, etc. If bothersome, there are some medications that may be helpful, including Neurontin for pain for hypersensitivity. You can try various textures such as washcloths, loofahs, cotton sheets, etc. Massaging the areas is also beneficial for the incision to make the finest scar possible. The last place to regain the sensation will be directly adjacent to the incision/scar as the nerves will make its way from the periphery to this location. If continual pain arises, evaluation is warranted. After ruling out other causes, one rare explanation may be that a neuroma has developed and may require surgical excision. This is very unlikely unless a large sensory nerve has been transected inadvertently during the procedure. Hope that this helps! Best wishes!


Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Face lift numbness and pain

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Thank you for your question about your face lift healing at 3 months.

  1. One side of a face lift always heals faster than the other.
  2. The right side of your face lift should catch up with the left, in time.
  3. When the whole ear lobe is numb, a nerve injury is a concern. This is not your situation - just the ear lobe tip. This too will improve
  4. Numbness is from swelling after surgery. It takes 6-18 months to resolve after a face lift.  All you need is patience and time. Best wishes. Hope this helps.

Elizabeth Morgan, MD, PhD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Numbness and pain 3 months after facelift

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It is not abnormal to feel tightness and numbness at this time. Numbness may be caused by temporary nerve damage, which will usually resolve itself within 6 months to a year following surgery. It may take even longer for a complete recovery, but it really depends on the patient and the extent of their surgery. I would recommend speaking with your surgeon regarding the issues you are experiencing. He/she may be able to provide some additional insight on your side effects and what may be done to provide some relief.  I hope this helps, and I wish you the best of luck with the remainder of your recovery.

Paul S. Nassif, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

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Facelift recovery

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All that you are describing falls within the bell curve of a normal recovery.  Numbness can take months to years for resolution to its final endpoint so 3 months is very early.  Pain and stiffness also resolve as you regaing full and normal activities.

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Numbness and Sensation Changes 3 Months After Facelift

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Thank you for the question. The healing process after facial surgery differs significantly between patients, and even between sides of your face. At 3 months, it is actually still very early. Though all of your incision will be healed by now, the facial soft tissues and nerve endings are still undergoing changes beneath the skin. As long as you continue to monitor the area for signs of infection or more serious issues, and continue to follow up with your surgeon, the best treatment is time.

Evan Ransom, MD
Bay Area Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

Numbness and Pain 3 Months After Face Lift?

+1

 The numbness, on the right side, that you're describing could be due to injured or cut greater auricular sensory nerve.  This nerve is exposed when dissecting the tissues for a Face and Neck Lift and if cut gives numbness of the earlobe and skin just below the earlobe.  This doesn't improve and there is no treatment.  

Francis R. Palmer, III, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Numbness After Facelift

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Without being able to examine you, it is difficult to say for sure. I'd recommend that you continue to observe the area. You will most likely have to complete a resolution at 6-12 months. In the mean time, please schedule a visit with your surgeon to make sure everything is healing properly.

Babak Azizzadeh, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

May be normal

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Not surprisingly, we do not always heal symmetrically.  That said, the numbness around your ear and at the ear lobe is pretty common. Numbness at 3 months after surgery is certainly common. I have seen it last 6-9 months, and there may be some spotty areas around and on the ear that persist.  The nerve that gives sensation to the area, the greater auricular nerve, sends branches in front of the ear and behind the ear.  The branches behind the ear are basically right under the incision behind the ear.   

Stuart H. Bentkover, MD
Boston Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Numbness after facelift

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It is very typical to be numb over the cheek for three to four months after a face lift and the feeling will return. Sensitive earlobes are also quite normal but numbness in the lobe might indicate a nerve injury that may persist for some time longer.

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Numbness and pain after surgery

+1

It is unusual to have pain after 3 months. I suspect you have an injury to your great auricular nerve which supplies sensation to your ear. If the nerve was completely cut, the numbness will likely be permanent. If it was traumatized but is intact, the sensation may come back. Injury to the nerve could also be causing the pain. There is the potential for a neuroma, which is basically the nerve growing abnormally into a small mass where it was injured . If this is the case, you may need additional surgery to correct this. Best of luck.

Paul Wigoda, MD
Fort Lauderdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 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.