Is Greater Tightness & Discomfort on One Side Vs. the Other Normal After Facelift?

I had a facelift 5 months ago. My right ear and neck have been tighter & more uncomfortable since day 1and they still are (although now it is more intermittent than earlier.) Is this normal? If so, what what could cause the disparity? Thank you.

Doctor Answers 10

Tighter on one side

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Because you have two sides, one will always be more uncomfortable because you have the other side to compare it to.  This is the case for all aesthetic surgery- one breast is always more comfortable than the other after breast surgery.  As things completely heal and relax- another few months, things will start to even out more as the discomfort is reduced on both sides.  You are normal and your question is a great one.

Greater Tightness on One Side after Facelift

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   One side can feel tighter after facelift.  If the cosmetic result is very good, I would wait a year or so.  Massage may help the tight sensation.

One side of my face feels tighter than the other after a facelift

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Everybody heals in their own unique way. It is very difficult to predict exactly what a person will experience during the healing process. Sometimes one side of the face will be more sensitive and swell more intensely for a longer period of time than the other. It is important to remember that it can take 6-12 months for the healing process to resolve after a facelift. I would make sure that you are following up with your surgeon to ensure that the healing process is going according to plan.

Todd C. Miller, MD
Newport Beach Facial Plastic Surgeon

Tightness After Facelift

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It's important to remember that it can sometimes take a full year for these issues to resolve. Your face and body is still recovering from this process, though you may expect to see optimal results by now. Make sure that you let your plastic surgeon know about your concerns and be sure to continue to follow your post operative care regimin. 

Babak Azizzadeh, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

One sided tightness/discomfort following facelift

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It is not uncommon to have more discomfort or tightness on one side of the face following a facelift.  this can be caused by several factors including swelling, dependency (which side of your face you lie on, and the relative location of nerves.  If the symptoms are becoming less frequent, this trend should continue, but it may take up to a year to fully resolve.  Check with your surgeon, however, massage and the use of topical or injectable hydrocortizone may help speed the process.  Best wishes.

Vincent D. Lepore, MD
San Jose Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 63 reviews

Facelift healing

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It is certainly reasonable to have tightness that is different on one side versus the other.  The response/healing process can differ from side to side.  This difference may be due to many factors.  

Dr. ES

Tightness after facelift, more on one side.

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Hi. Tightness on one side more than the other is a relatively common feeling within the first few week or so after a facelift. The fact that you are still feeling it after 5months is more of the issue. The good news is that you state above that the feeling is intermittent now, thats a great sign, and you should expect it to further improve over time. What causes it is usually from different amounts of scar tissue that can develop or even from any kind of fluid collection or bleeding you may have experienced on one side more than the other. Hope this helps. 

Dilip D. Madnani, MD, FACS
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 104 reviews

More tightness on one side following facelift

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Hello, and sorry to hear about your discomfort.  The side effects of a facelift, which can vary depending on the type of facelift that was performed and the severity of the patient's issues, may include the following:


1) Swelling
2) Bruising
3) Temporary numbness
4) Nerve injury that is usually temporary but can sometimes be permanent
5) A feeling of tightness

One of the goals of a facelift is to lift and tighten the skin of the face and neck.  In order for the results to be long lasting, tissues deeper than the skin have to be lifted and tightened.  This will causes a tight feeling in the face and neck which is a sign that the proper tissues were lifted.  This is an uncomfortable feeling after surgery, but the feeling will greatly improve or resolve 6-12 weeks following surgery. However, every patient heals differently, and the tightness may last longer. Massage and exercises that improve the range of motion of your neck will help to improve this tight feeling. I do not recommend these movements unless the patient cannot tolerate the tight feeling because they will loosen the tissues that were tightened for the facelift.   The fact that you are experiencing this tightness only on one side is not any cause for alarm, as we all have asymmetries that may cause us to heal different. Your surgeon may have had to perform more invasive work in this region to correct for issues that may have been different on that side. I would recommend speaking with the surgeon who performed your procedure to determine how you may safely ease some of the tightness if it is causing you discomfort.  Thank you and good luck!

Facelift tightness and discomfort

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Thank you for your question,


It sounds like you are experiencing tension due to having a different amount of skin removed from each side. I would consult with your board certified plastic surgeon.


Good luck,


Dr. Sam Speron

Sam Speron, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon

Is it normal for each side to feel different after a facelift?

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Dear Carol

Thanks for your question. In short, it can be completely normal for each side to feel different. In surgical terms, 5-months is still fairly soon after surgery, and it can take over a year for the scarring (internal as well as external) to soften and settle down.

Have you tried massaging on a regular (daily) basis

Is your massage firm? (it should be)

Sometimes these differences are caused by small trapped nerves - it sounds like this could be the cause in your case (damage to a nerve called the great auricular nerve), otherwise by scar tissue.

The best thing will be time (at least a year) and massage

I hope this helps!


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.