How Many Stitches Does a Facelift Require?

How many stitches are there in an average facelift? What's considered a normal amount?

Doctor Answers 40

After a comprehensive full face/neck lift, 40-50...

After a comprehensive full face/neck lift, 40-50 stitches are used to meticulously close the incision site at the hairline, in front and behind the ears. These stitches are removed at the fourth day after the surgery to avoid railroad track scars along the incision line.
The incisions themselves are not closed under any tension because the tension is placed on the muscle layer and the SMAS layer underneath. So the skin is pulled together very gingerly, which prevents the wind-tunneled or operated look, and patients heal very naturally. For many examples of facial rejuvenation, please see the link below  to our facelift  Photo Gallery

Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 145 reviews

It really depends on the type of facelift that you do

It really depends on the type of facelift you do. When you do a traditional facelift with an incision that goes in front of the ear and extends all the way to the back of the ear and down the hairline, you will receive 20-30 stiches or more. If the lift you do is a minimal one and your incision only is located in front of the ear you may receive 10-15.

In general, you should expect 1-3 stiches for each cm of incision that you receive. Sometimes doing too many can create scarring and doing more on the lesser side may also create scarring. And the type of suture you use can also make a difference. You definitely want to go to a surgeon with a lot of experience.

Philip Young, MD
Bellevue Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

The number of stitches for a facelift is irrelevant.

If someone is trying to sell you a facelift based on the number of stitches, I would recommend going to someone else. The number of stitches used during a facelift is individualized for each patient and judging a facelift by the number of stitches is irrelevant. Facelift surgery is very complex. It is more how you put the stitches and where you put the stitches than how many you use.

I hope this is helpful.

David Shafer, MD
Shafer Plastic Surgery

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

Number of stitches in a facelift

The number of suture or stitches depends on the length of the incision. The length of the incision is based on not only the type of facelift that is being performed but also the individual's particular anatomy.

The short-scar facelifts require much smaller incisions and therefore fewer stitches. On the other hand, a full face and neck lift, will require longer incisions and therefore more sutures.

Typically, the exact number of sutures are variable based on each surgeon's closing techniques. In general, as long as the incisions are closed in a meticulous fashion, the number of sutures has very little impact on the outcome.

Furthermore, for patients who don't like the idea of removing stitches, absorbable stiches can be used.

Amir M. Karam, MD
San Diego Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 114 reviews

Stitches - Just enough, but not too many.

When most patients ask how many stitches will be used, they are referring to sutures on the skin surface that need to be removed. Aside from skin sutures, there are many "deep" sutures that are not removed (which are either permanent, or dissolve with time after their temporary purpose has been achieved). There are several confounding issues with this question:

  1. On the skin surface, sutures can be "Simple" (a loop tied to itself), or "Running" (an over-and-over stitch such as used on a baseball). Running sutures can have several loops removed at one time, but for simplicity sake, I would count each loop as a stitch.
  2. Some skin sutures do not need to be removed. In locations where the scar is not visible and/or suture removal would be painful (in the hair, or directly behind the ear), absorbable skin sutures work very well.
  3. Instead of sutures, it is perfectly acceptable to use staples in low visibility areas (inside the hair). Staples do not cause an inflammatory reaction (as do dissolving sutures) and will leave a good scar. They are much easier than traditional non-absorbable sutures to remove from within the hair. (Hairs tend to get caught in suture knots, and can get pulled out when traditional sutures are removed.)

With all that in mind, to really answer the question you have to know what type of facelift is being used. Scar length varies depending if a "short scar" or traditional technique is utilized. (Don't try to choose the technique based on the number of sutures! Choose the one that will give you the result you are looking for.)

To try to give you a straight answer:

  • In front the ear: 15-25 non-absorbable
  • Inside the sideburn: 5-10 absorbable or staples
  • Behind the ear - none with some short scar techniques to 10-40 (mixed absorbable, non-absorbable, and staples) with more traditional techniques (which have a greater impact on improving the neck)
  • Under the chin - 0-10 non-absorbable - depending on what was done. (Nothing, liposuction, or open platysmaplasty)

All of these numbers are for only one side of the face, so double everything. I hope this helps!

Michael A. Bogdan, MD, FACS
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Counting facelift stitches is meaningless

As a Plastic Surgeon, I wish I had a dollar for each time I was asked how many stitches I put in a particular procedure.

I assure you and all other readers that no plastic surgeon actually counts his/her sutures. We put in as many stitches as we think, in our judgment, are required.

The REASON why stitches are even used is to keep tissues where we want them to remain while the body's healing system glues things together with scar tissue.

Stitches will not hold a wound together if it is infected, radiated, does not have an good blood supply (IE diabetics, smokers) or if its edges want to pull apart and are under a lot of tension.

By using dissolving stitches whenever we can, these "temporary splints" hold things together while they are needed and go away once the scarring is established.

So - forget the stitch counting. It is meaningless.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 109 reviews

Number of stitches to achieve result

The number of sutures placed is not a critical factor in achieving a good result. A good result is dependent on the surgeon's skill and judgment in how much excess skin to resect, the proper vector in pulling the skin and SMAS, and meticulous closure of the wound.

Attention to detail in closure is more important than the actual number of sutures placed.

Corey S. Maas, MD
San Francisco Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

A Facelift will take as many stitches as needed

The number of stitches is not as important as the placement of the stitches and the incisions. In general, facelift incisions are rather long and require many stitches to close. There are additional stitches places under the skin to elevate the deeper tissues and hold the skin in place while it heals. There is no correct or average number of sutures. A qualified and experienced facial plastic or plastic surgeon will use enough sutures to give you the best result possible.

D.J. Verret, MD
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon
3.9 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

The Right Amount

It may sound counter intuitive, but Facial Plastic Surgeons don't generally count stitches.  We put in as many as are required to meticulously close the incision without tension and to carefully approximate wound edges. My answer:  I put in the right amount.

Stephen Prendiville, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

The number of sutures used in a facelift does not affect the result

The number of sutures used in a facelift does not affect the result. I always tell my patients when they ask me how many sutures were used for a particular procedure, I give them the same response and that is as many as necessary to close the wound or the incision. What is most important to consider is the type of sutures used, permanent or dissolvable and whether or not the skin edges are nicely approximated. Wound care is important regardless of the number of sutures used and better wound care will lead to a better result wheether the procedure is a facelift or some other type of surgery.

Scott Trimas, MD
Jacksonville Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 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.