The Truth About Facelift Recovery

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The bottom line? It’s not pretty. But patients who have successfully come out the recovery side (and, trust me, they all do) will tell you it’s worth it. That’s because a facelift is the gold standard for turning back the hands of time.
Yes, there are a number of non-surgical options that can soften wrinkles, fill lines, tighten skin and replace lost volume, but these are temporary fixes, and when the day comes that you need a facelift... well, you need a facelift. Facelifts, of course, come in various shapes and sizes, and recovery will be different for each one. 
Facelift patients are definitely some of my happiest patients... but only after the recovery phase. Understanding what you’re in for helps to get through it:

Physical Recovery
A facelift literally repositions (a little or a lot of) your skin. It’s cut, trimmed and stitched back together. There’s a lot of pain you’d wake up to if it weren’t for modern medicine. Not to worry. You will feel discomfort, but this can all be managed with an Rx. The first 2 days are hard. You’re going to be tired. You may feel nauseated. Swelling peaks at days 3-4, but once you’re through the first week, you’re well on your way to recovery.

You’re definitely going to bear the brunt of swelling and bruising during the first week. After the first couple of days, you’ll likely feel well enough to get up and move around the house, though you’ll make your life a whole lot easier if you’ve followed my Facelift Dos, Don’ts and the Pre-Op Shopping List. Swelling will begin to dissipate toward the end of the week and bruising will start to fade, though you may see remnants of both for the next 3 to 4 weeks.

Social Recovery
You’ll begin to feel better during the second week of recovery, but you’ll still have some facial swelling and bruising. Getting out for walks will help boost your energy levels as you continue to recover. If you’re self-conscious about your face, every facial surgeon’s practice should have a makeup expert to help you expertly cover the signs of surgery. If you’re going back to work or your weekly girls night out, you probably want to wait until week 3 or 4.

Psychological Recovery
Even once you’ve reached the 2-3 week point in recovery, you may not recognize yourself in the mirror. Continued swelling can distort parts of the face and leave any patient feeling sad—wondering if they made the right choice having surgery. These feelings are very common and referred to as “Buyer’s Remorse.” A good doctor will be able to confirm that you are healing as expected. As long as you’ve done due diligence in selecting a doctor you can trust, then you need to do exactly that—trust him or her. The best advice is to relax and don’t second guess your decision at this point. You will heal fully, and you will be assuring others that it’s all worth it.


Dr. M
Article by
Shrewsbury Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon