How Should You Sleep and Take Care of Your Skin After a Facelift?

What would you recommend for the best position to sleep in AFTER (post op) surgery? Also, what skin care regime would you recommend pre and post op?

Thanks to all you wonderful MD's who take the time to answer our questions.

Doctor Answers 26

Postoperative Facelift Care

Good postoperative care is generally a continuation of the good habits you started before surgery. We begin skin care well in advance of facelift surgery and continue it postoperatively. What this care is depends on how much damage is present. We usually use the Obagi® Nu-Derm System for severe damage or the Epionce® System for lesser changes. Both reduce the brown spots, remove the thickened outer dead cell layer and firm the skin.

You should also continue the other good lifestyle habits from before surgery, like use of good vitamins, good diet, not smoking and, after a few days, moderate exercise. As far as sleeping and other specific things you can do, you should keep your head elevated as much as possible. While sleeping, you should sleep on your back and use only a neck roll or a contour pillow, keeping your chin up and the front of your neck stretched. You can generally shower immediately after the surgery, but should be careful not to rub downward.

You should wash the incisions gently to remove any old blood or crusts. Until these incisions are well healed, we also recommend application of an antibiotic ointment several times a day. We give our patients a written instruction sheet that answers almost all these questions. I would ask your doctor for the same.

Highlands Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Skin Care before and After a Facelift.


There is some evidence that using Retin-A and vitamin C will help prepare and maintain your skin before and after a facelift. Also sleeping on several pillows up to 3 weeks after a facelift will help with the swelling.



Oleh Slupchynskyj, MD, FACS
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 252 reviews

Facelift and Post-op Skin care - Toronto Plastic Surgeon's experience

Best position right after a facelift is head elevated 30 degrees, to allow some of the post-op swelling to go down and minimizing bruising.  Head position should be straight and neck extended slightly.  The facelift garment should help in keeping this position.  Skin care should be the continuation of pre-op skin regime:  in my clinic VISAGE in Toronto, all my patients go on OBAGI skin care or his ZO line, and some vitamin A, prescribed.  This is continued over time.  At some point, some mild form of Erbium resurfacing, or profraction, might be recommended.  Best of luck!  Dr. Marc DuPere

Marc DuPere, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Post op care for facelift

Immediately after facelift it is important to sleep with your head elevated to help prevent venous congestion in the operated tissues and to help prevent swelling. As the healing continues, you can start a skin care regimen. I agree that Retin-A is one of the best and easiest approaches to skin care. Good luck with your surgery.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 70 reviews

Brief pre and post face lift care recommendations and sleeping positions

The use of Retin-A may seem old fashioned but it remains at the forefront of the most effective skin care regimens in minimizing and actually reversing the effects of aging. This in combination with avoidance of tobacco products and sun exposure with sunscreen/sunblock, and a well balanced diet and exercise regimen are the mainstays of skin care maintenance. Nutritional supplements as well as topical and oral antioxidants are probably next on the list.\

In the early postoperative period, the best position to sleep is on your back with the head of the bed elevated without a pillow. The pillow can kink your neck vessels and actually cause more swelling particulary when a dressing is in place. Your head should be elevated to the point that your neck or facial veins are not distended (approximately 30-45 degrees).

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

It’s best to sleep with your head elevated following facelift surgery.

It’s best to sleep with your head elevated following facelift surgery. Make sure you have either a thick, firm pillow or multiple pillows that will keep your head elevated approximately 30 degrees while sleeping. This will help to prevent undue swelling. As for skin care, it’s important to try to stick to a healthy diet and lifestyle, which will help keep skin in good shape, and at my office we offer a variety of effective skin care options that we can tailor to your specific needs. Your surgeon should go over post-operative care instructions with you to ensure a good result and recovery period.

Keep Your Head Elevated & Your Skin Nourished

In my practice, I emphasize the importance of patients keeping their heads elevated for at least 2 weeks after facelift surgery, even overnight. This reduces unnecessary swelling, keeps patients comfortable, and improves scar development. It's very important to keep your head elevated above your heart. Most of my patients achieve this with the aid of plenty of pillows or a reclining chair with a U-shaped travel pillow. When it comes to skin care, I give specific instructions based on the individual needs of the patient. It's important to leave your incisions undisturbed until you get the go-ahead from your surgeon — this includes the use of any creams, lotions, or ointments. Most plastic surgery practices either sell or recommend high-end skincare products and are happy to make tailored recommendations for you. Thanks for your question!

James N. Romanelli, MD, FACS
Long Island Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Post-op care after Facelift

When you rest or sleep, keep your head elevated 2-3 pillows and avoid turning of your side. If you overexert yourself, bleeding or prolonged swelling may result. Clean incisions around your ears and under your chin with peroxide, then apply polysporin ointment twice a day. 

Jose E. Barrera, MD, FACS
San Antonio Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Post Op Care

Thank you for your question.
As soon as movement is possible, try to walk frequently (3-4 times per day) in an effort to boost circulation and avoid the development of deep venous thrombosis (potentially fatal blood clots in the veins of the leg). It is also important to avoid lifting heavy objects until approved by your surgeon and avoid steam rooms and saunas as well as niacin-containing medicines (and possibly foods) for a while due to their tendency to cause facial flushing. Also avoid consuming alcohol or aspirin-like products (e.g. Ibuprofen) without the surgeon’s approval.

Also, expect to return to work within two weeks. Any major events should be within one to four months of surgery.

In an effort to avoid swelling, it is advisable for patients to sleep with their heads elevated, either by sleeping on two pillows or using a wedge-shaped foam pillow. Keeping the head still during sleep is important as well so as not to pull on delicate sutures on the face. Sleeping on a recliner would most likely be the best option to avoid patients rolling over and disrupting facial changes.

Ramtin Kassir, MD
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 99 reviews

Best Sleeping Position after Facelift

Sleeping in a reclining chair is the best position with your chin up by using a U shaped airplane pillow works best in my practice. See the below link for addtional suggestions for a fast recovery including skin care.

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 99 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.