What Level of Pain is Considered Normal After a Facelift?

Should prescribed pain meds be able to numb the pain? If they do not, is something else wrong?

Doctor Answers 23

See surgeon if pain is concern

Pain after surgery is normal, and it is generally well controlled by medication prescribed by your surgeon. If you are concerned about the level of pain you're experiencing, it's safer for you to see your surgeon just in case.

Pain is usually minimal after a facelift

Pain after a facelift is actually usually pretty minimal. Your surgeon should prescribe some pain medications, but often patients only use them for a day or two after surgery. Rather than pain, patients most often experience discomfort from swelling, tightness, or itchiness. This will be most pronounced in the first few days after surgery, then should continue to subside over the next few weeks and months. Individuals may have different pain tolerances, however, and if your pain medications don’t help, I would advise visiting your surgeon for a follow-up visit.

Mild Discomfort Usual following Facelift

Minimal Pain After a Facelift

There is a degree of discomfort after all surgery. Pain medicines are to make this discomfort less but NOT to eliminated it completely - just enough to allow you to do other activities. Fortunately, he pain felt after a Facelift is typically very low. Patients should expect swelling, bruising, and  a tight feeling in the face after the procedure, but swelling normally goes down after 48 hours, most bruising goes away within two weeks, and the tightness is to be expected. Pain medicines are prescribed but usually not needed after a few days. Most of the skin is numb (no sensation at all), and when the numbness resolves months later the healing is already complete.


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

Pain after lift

The discomfort after a face & neck lift is mostly a sensation of tightness.  Typically prescription pain medications such as Vicodin or Percocet are needed for 2-3 days.  Every person has a different pain tolerance and of course there are differences in types of face lifts as well.

Sam Naficy, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 191 reviews

Facelift pain is minimal

The truth is that for a large percentage of people who undergo a face lift, the pain is minimal. They can usually get away with only taking an over the counter pain medication. In most cases, it is more of a little discomfort and irritation than it is painful.


Christopher W. Chase, MD
Chattanooga Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Facelift - What Level of Pain is Considered Normal After a Facelift?

Pretty low, actually.  Facelifts are typically associate with an often surprisingly low level of pain.  Of course, some discomfort is normal, but it's more commonly described as tightness, burning, claustrophobic feelings (from the bandages), and itching or burning.  Pain meds are often prescribed, but are used only rarely.  In fact, significant pain - particularly on one side and associated with swelling on that side - may be the hallmark of one of the few real emergencies after a facelift:  a hematoma.  Urgent intervention is normally required at that point.  This is, fortunately, a rare event.  The Plastic Surgery Bottom Line:  There is normally relatively little pain after a facelift.

I hope that this helps, and good luck,

Dr. E

Post-operative Facelift

Pain is not a major issue after soft tissue surgery like a Facelift in the vast majority of my patients.  Still, pain is very subjective.  If you feel you are more sensitive to pain or if you are on daily pain medications regularly you should definitively discuss this with your surgeon.  They will help you formulate a pain to help control any post-operative discomfort.  Good luck!

Hannah Vargas, MD
Kansas City Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Level of pain after a facelift

Vicodin or Percocet are the typical pain medications given for the postoperative period after a facelift surgery.  Most patients take just a few pills in their postoperative period and it is best to check with your original surgeon.  

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 106 reviews

Is recovery from a facelift painful?

  • Facelift surgery is extensive surgery, but fortunately it is not particularly painful. Sometimes there can be minor soreness near the ear incisions, but the majority of the face and neck region can feel somewhat numb for a few weeks.
  • The dressings can be slightly "uncomfortable", but typically not too bad!.  My facelift patient generally have an easy recovery. It is probably an easier recovery than breast or tummy surgery in terms of pain.  Eyelid surgery can be more uncomfortable because of the swelling, however. 
  • Each person reacts differently to anesthesia and surgery, so it is tough to predict each person's individual outcome.  The overall odds are that you will find your recovery relatively easy.


Michael Suzman, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Pain after facelift

Discomfort after a facelift is usually mild and should be able to be controlled fairly easily with Ibuprofen, Extra strength Tylenol and the occasional low dose narcotic, like Percocet or Demerol. It's usually more like a swelling discomfort than any type of sharp pain. If you are having a lot of pain in the first 2-3 days after surgery you should contact your surgeon to be sure there isn't a hematoma or infection.

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.