3 weeks post op, When Do You See Final Results from a Facelift?

I had a lower FL/NL three weeks ago. While I am seeing a lot of improvement, I am also still seeing more jowling than I was hoping for. I can even move this area with my fingers into the position I wanted. Is this just residual swelling? Or, was Doc very conservative? Or, too soon to tell?

Doctor Answers 12

Swelling after facelift

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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 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.

6 months

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Your pictures look very good for that short period of time, but the regular patient will have to wait an average of 6 months to see almost the 100% of the swelling to be gone after a Facelift. Some other patients might have to wait longer (12 months).

Gustavo A. Diaz, MD
Charlotte Facial Plastic Surgeon

3-6 months

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Swelling after facelift surgery can last up to 6 months.  I would continue to wear a compression garment for a few hours each day until then.  Revisions are rarely necessary so early.

Marisa Lawrence, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon

Disappointed after facelift

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It is unusual to be able to pull up excess skin that early after surgery. It sounds like you had a "mini" type of procedure advertised under various names. Patients are beginning to realize that these procedures have a shorter recovery and are easier to have done and are much less expensive but the results are also much, much less. My suggestion would be to see a reputable plastic surgeon and follow his advice.

Swelling can simulate jowls for up to 12 weeks

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In most facelifts the usual time period for studying your results is about 3-4 months.  In laser assisted face lifts where additional skin contraction can improve later results the time frame is 6 months. If your jowls continue to be a concern after 4-6 months laser assisted (smartlifting) techniques can be effective in reducing jowl volume and position.

Facelift Recovery Process

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You are very early in the healing process, so I would not be concerned at this point.  It really takes about three months before you can step back and say that everything is done healing, etc.  Just be patient.

Final results from a facelift

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As Dr Mayer states 6 to 12 months is the average time needed for a FULL recovery from a face lift surgery. There are exceptions but this is a average time frame.


Swelling after facelift

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Most of the swelling is gone 2 months after a facelift, but some patients do persist longer. Jowl swelling can be prolonged if aggressive jowl liposuction is performed. I would wait 6 months before deciding on revision work.

Kevin Ende, MD
Manhattan Facial Plastic Surgeon

Jowling after Facelift

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You should see some correction of your jowls at this point. If not as the swelling resolves and the tissue loosens the jowl may increase.  I would say that if your don't see a difference now, waiting will not improve it. It's not like a rhinoplasty where waiting a year could make a difference.

Facelifts look their best after three months

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Most face lifts have swelling for three to six months following surgery.  In California we tend to see it in the neck, jowls and cheeks. You look great.  Best wishes.

Charles Perry, MD
Sacramento Plastic Surgeon

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.