I had a Mini Lower Face Lift 5 days ago and my ears are plugged. Also the cartilage in my ear hurts. Is this normal?

Doctor Answers 10

Ears feel blocked

While most commonly, this feeling is related to temporary swelling around the ear canal, it could also be from dried blood in the ear canal, or other causes.  Best to have it checked - have your surgeon look in there with an otoscope.

Blocked ears following facelift

It is quite possible that the blockage in your ears is from swelling, but that is not something that can be determined without an in person exam. So, call your surgeon and get in to see him or her to have the situation assessed. Always best to err on the side of caution.


Kouros Azar

Kouros Azar, MD
Thousand Oaks Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Diminished hearing, plugged ears, ear pain following facelift

Dear shopqueen53:

Sorry for your troubles. Swelling in the ear canal and a sense of tunnel hearing or blockage may be a real concern or simply a side-effect of a facelift. 

Unfortunately, the name "mini" and "lower" facelift does not indicate the location of your incisions. If placed along the rim of the tragus skin which overlies the tragus and outer ear cartilage, suture tightening, swelling, bruising and inflammation are expected and will deform the cartilage and outer ear canal creating the "plugged" feeling and diminished hearing. While just a bit early for most infections, it could be the site of a developing cellulitis. If your surgeon uses a anti-septic cotton plug, this could be the source of the blockage.

Please arrange a urgent follow-up with your surgeon to evaluate your concerns. In most cases it will resolve quickly. Sometimes, a short course of oral steroid medication will help when there is no infection. Infection may require antibiotics. 

If this is getting worse and for whatever reason your surgeon is not available, seek the opinion of a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, ENT or the Emergency Department soon. I wish you the best. 

Dean P. Kane, MD, FACS
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 70 reviews

Ears plugged 5 days after face lift

Thank you for asking about your face lift recovery.

Please contact your own plastic surgeon and explain the problem. You may need to be seen. It may be from swelling or from a physical blockage if, for instance, fluid entered your ear canal.

Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Best wishes  - Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

Plugged ears after minilift

Because a minilift procedure is performed through incisions in and around the ears, your complaints are not too unusual. I would recommend you discuss these concerns with your surgeon. I'm guessing you are going to be seeing them in the next couple of days to get sutures removed. If not, schedule an appointment and have them check your ears.

Andrew Campbell, M.D.

Facial Rejuvenation Specialist

Quintessa Aesthetic Centers

Andrew Campbell, MD
Milwaukee Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Plugged ears after facelift

Your tragal cartilage may be swollen from your incision, this could partially block the opening to your ear canal. You also may have blood inside your ear canal or cotton balls used during surgery to prevent blood from pooling inside your ear canal. If it is your tragal cartilage that is sore, it is likely from the incision. Cartilage of the rest of the ear sometimes get bent in a facelift dressing and can be sore from this. Have your surgeon examine you to see if it is something easily reversed. All the best,

Dr. Brace

Matthew Brace, MD
Ontario Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Plugged ears after a facelift

On rare occasion the ear canal can swell a bit to cause the sensation of plugged ears.  Usually in subsides in a few days.  Make sure you surgeons examines your ear canal to make sure that you do not have some dried blood that needs to be irrigated out.

Boris M. Ackerman, MD
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 52 reviews

Needs a check

It would be best for your doctor to look into your ears to determine if blood has coagulated in the ear canal.

Ears hurt after face lift

Make sure the surgeon did mnot leave some plugs in your ear canals. This is frequently done to avoid getting blood into the canal which can take a while to get out. There are probably some stitches behind the ear next to the cartilage. This might also cause some discomfort but it's not usually bad. Check in with your surgeon for the best advise.

Ear plugging after facelift

Though it is not common, the sensation of your ears being plugged or having the cartilage tender or painful can be a normal part of healing after a facelift.  This is likely due to the incisions that are used which are typically hidden around the curvature of your ear. The ear canal and cartilage, which are very close to the incisions, can have some swelling after the surgery.

A swollen ear canal can give you the sensation of having your ears plugged.  A small amount of fluid or blood from the procedure can also get in your ear canal.  This will typically resolve over time on its own.

If you have pain or ear plugging that you feel is severe or getting worse, I would recommend you call your surgeon to have it evaluated.  It is important to rule out any infection or other issue that could compromise your healing process.  

Best of luck!

Kyle T. Yamamoto, MD
Reno Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 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.