Should I Use Hear or Ice to Get Swelling Down Now? I Was Using Ice First 2 Weeks.

I am 6 weeks out and still have swelling under my chin, in my cheeks (near my ears) and above my eyes (under my brows) after having a chin lift, brow lift and half facelift... Should I use heat or ice now?

Doctor Answers 14

Patience Is Bitter, But Its Fruit Is Sweet

It is understandable that you want to do something to accelerate your healing and the dissipation of the swelling in your face and neck that you perceive.  There can be a temporary loss of sensation in the skin flaps after a facelift, so one must be careful with extremes of heat or cold applied to areas of insensate skin.  

However, beyond that general precaution, the most truthful answer is that the more dissection that is done within the face, and the deeper the anatomic level of that dissection, the longer the postoperative swelling will last, and the slower it will be to leave.  What is really required from you is patience, rather than the application of heat or cold. 

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Ice or heat after surgery?

I like ice for the first week and then warm, but not hot, compresses thereafter. I think that the heat helps to dilate and open up the little vessels which can help to remove the trapped fluid. Together with gentle pressure, or massage helps the swelling to go away quicker. Also, even more important is to avoid salt as it will cause you to retain fluid.

Should heat or ice be used for swelling 6 weeks after chin lift, brow lift and facelift?

Ice can be helpful with swelling after surgery, but really only helps the first few days.  At 6 weeks after surgery, ice will not make a significant difference.  I would not apply heat to the area initially or now.  Unfortunately, it is just a matter of giving it more time for the swelling to resolve, and this can take several months.  

Michael I. Echavez, MD
San Francisco Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

I dont think ice will make a difference at 6 weeks after surgery


Thank you for the question.  I don't think ice will make much of a difference with regards to swelling at 6 weeks following your surgery.  It it feels good then I do not think it will cause any harm either.  When in doubt, of course, you could always check in with your plastic surgeon.

All the best,

Dr. Remus Repta

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 153 reviews

Swelling after face/chinlift

Thank you for your question for sharing your concerns with us. Swelling and firmness in the tissues will return to normal as time passes by. Between the first and second week, much of your swelling and bruising will dissipate. It may take more than a month or two for your tissues to fully soften and any residual swelling to resolve. Lymphatic massage maybe an option to help clear the swelling and firmness at a faster pace.  At six weeks, heat may make swelling worse and ice may not have very much impact but won't hurt to try.  Just avoid prolonged icing or heating as this may also cause inflammation.  I would make sure that you continue to follow up with your plastic surgeon during this period of time.

Swelling 6 weeks after facelift

Ice is usually used for swelling, especially in the early post operative course.  Each surgeon will have a different protocol, (ice/heat/message/compression/elevasion etc;).  Best to talk to your surgeon and see what his particular protocol is.

Jeffrey J. Roth, MD, FACS
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Ice for face the swelling effective only in the first 24 hours.

When the capillaries are leaky in the first 24 hours eyes can be of some benefit in reducing swelling. After this it really doesn't have any effect.

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Ice versus heat for swelling

Initial swelling is improved by ice.  Ice helps constrict blood vessels which decreases swelling.  Ice is typically applied on and off for the first 20 minutes for the first 72 hours.  After the first few days, ice is no longer effective in improving swelling.  The body needs to "drain" the area with swelling and lymphatics need to be established so that edema can be removed.  Warm compresses can encourage lymphatic formation but we generally do not recommend this.  Gentle massage, sleeping in an upright position, and appropriate compression garments can help improve swelling as well.

Anil R. Shah, MD
Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 143 reviews

Ice versus Heat after facelift surgery

During the first few days after surgery cool compresses are very helpful. During the ensuing days warm compresses are more helpful. At this point your patience is very important as many patients observe persistent swelling for up to 3 months. In the end, it all resolves.

Be healthy and be well,

James M. Ridgway, MD, FACS

James M. Ridgway, MD, FACS
Bellevue Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

Ice Versus Warm Compresses

The simple concept is cold prevents swelling and bruising, warmth promotes dissipation.  Using cold compresses immediately after surgery is going to be the most important. After 24 hours, the affect becomes less significant and after 48 hours it probably isn't helping.  However, some patients think it feels good and that is worth something.  Be sure not to place ice directly on the tissues but rather use a cloth between the skin and ice.

Warm compresses help accelerate resolution of swelling and bruising, but the affect is not as obvious.  I recommend starting warmth after 5 days and then only if you really feel compelled.  GREAT CARE needs to be taken with warm compresses to avoid BURNS!!  After many surgeries, the skin is numb, and using too much heat will burn you without causing any pain.  I recommend doing no more than 15 minutes at a time, using a thick towel between the heating pad and the skin, and only using a high quality heating pad that is thermally regulated on the lowest setting.  NEVER use microwave been bags or the like.  And just because you can hold it in your hand and not get a burn, does not mean it won't burn your face.  The hand is tougher than freshly operated facial skin.  Also time is very important.  You may hold it in your hand for just a few seconds and think it is not too hot, but after a few minutes it may cause a burn.

Louis W. Apostolakis, MD
Austin Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 29 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.