How Long Should Swelling and Numbness Last After a Facelift?

recently had a lower facelift, necklift, fat injections in nasafolds. 6 weeks postop still swollen and numb. Is this normal, and if so how, long before i am completely healed?

Doctor Answers 132

Healing after a facelift

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I usually tell patients to expect about 10 days to two weeks for bruising to resolve after a facelift.  Many times it can be earlier, but I have heard so many patients say that "I am a good healer and will be less", and then it is still 10-14 days, that I want to be realistic and conservative.  I have also experimented with different aspects of the lift, including bigger, bulky dressings, tissue glue, and/or drains and none of them have appreciably improved healing time over other means. 

The swelling is typical, and begins to create a horizontal fullness to the face through the first week.  The second week the face looks more like patients expect, but can still be heavy or masculine along the jawline. By about a month, the face takes on a more natural, heart shape that showcases the strengths of a rejuvenating facelift.  But there is clearly swelling to the incisions, jawline, and neck to three months.  As swelling resolves, gravity draws it lower in the face.  So the jawline and neck take longer to resolve than the cheeks.

Madison Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Face Lift Numbness and Swelling

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It is normal to have numbness around your ears after a face lift. Normal sensation typically will return within 3 months, but can take up to a year if not longer in a select few. As things return to normal, you may experience some sharp shooting pain, tingling, or even the urge to itch the skin. Return to normal will not be that far off if you start to experience these symptoms.

Swelling may also take a while to resolve, but typically residual swelling may be confined to certain areas, not the whole face. Many patient will actually feel more swollen than they physically manifest. This is like when you walk out of the dentist's office, the lips are numb and feel like they are huge, but they are not. The same applies to the face; when it is numb, those areas will feel more swollen than they actually are. But even in the presence of identifiable swelling, it may take months to resolve. 

Edmon Pierre Khoury, MD
Lone Tree Facial Plastic Surgeon

Swelling and numbness after a face lift

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I usually tell people that most of the healing including swelling, numbness will be 60% complete at 6 weeks and 90% around 6 months. The nerves grow at a maximal rate of 1 mm per day. but is usually slower than that in my experience. Taping, pressure dressings, steroids orally or injections could work.

Philip Young, MD
Bellevue Facial Plastic Surgeon

Recovering from a Facelift

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Swelling and numbness are both to be expected, of course, after a Facelift. Of the two, it is the swelling (and bruising) that keeps people out of work/circulation. Most of my patients are able to go back to work in about 7-10 days as 70-80% of the swelling will have resolved. The remaining swelling can take 6-8 weeks more to fully resolve. The numbness takes longer to totally resolve (even up to a year in some case), but in the majority of cases, the numbness is a non-issue after about 3-4 months.

Dr. Y

Haresh Yalamanchili, MD
Houston Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Swelling after a facelift

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The swelling and numbness following a face lift typically are most notable for the first 3 months but may take up to 6 months prior to achieving a stable appearance. The numbness may continue to resolve over a period of 2 years.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Recovering from a Facelift (Swelling & Numbness)

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In my experience, a proper lower facelift will have mild swelling at best which is resolved within two weeks.

Numbness from a facelift can be broken down into two different parts of the face.  The first is region of where the skin flap was elevated.  When the skin is elevated off the underlying soft tissue structures, all the millions of nerve fibers for sensation underneath are detached from the overlying skin.  Every one of these nerve fibers will re-attach over the following several months back to normal.

The second area is the ear itself.  The nerve (the greater auricular nerve) that provides sensation for the ear starts in the mid-neck over the large muscle called the sternocleidomastoid muscle.  In elevating the skin over the area of this nerve, it can be “bruised” so to speak.  Nerves are extremely delicate and even the lightest brushing against them can cause them to “go to sleep”, even though it has not been cut.  In this case, it can result in temporary numbness of the ear itself, but will recover if truly not cut.  This type of nerve can take up to 18 months to recover, but in most instances is much quicker than that.

Hope you found this answer helpful.  All the best!

Burke Robinson, MD, FACS
Atlanta Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

Swelling and Numbness after Facelift

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Numbness is a normal part of the recovery after Facelift and most will resolve in 6 - 8 months after surgery.  Some areas of numbness, like the cheeks, fade more quickly. Others like the stitch lines themselves take longer, maybe 18 months or longer.

Swelling will mostly dissipate within a few days to a couple of weeks, but some spots, like around the internal stitches in the cheeks and under the chin will take longer. Some of these areas of swelling are subtle in appearance, not so much noticeable by others, but may be felt as firmer spots under the skin.

Paul C. Zwiebel, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Swelling and Numbness in Facelift

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It really depends on the patient.  The majority of the swelling resolves by around 6 weeks.  But the ultimate result may take 4-6 months.

As far as the numbness goes, it may take 6-12 months for complete return.

Good luck.

Farbod Esmailian, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 88 reviews

Swelling and Numbness following Facelift

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Swelling after a facelift is typically 2-3 weeks, but many patients can look good at 7-10 days. Numbness, however can last for several months. Most patients find the numbness quite tolerable and have very little discomfort post op. As the numbness resolves, some patients will experience a burning or itchy sensation, dude to nerve recovery. This is very normal and resolves over time.

Steven L. Ringler, MD, FACS
Grand Rapids Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 72 reviews

Swelling and numbness are two different things

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Swelling is different with different techniques. Deep plane swelling is far worse and lasts much longer than a SMAS procedure. Numbness is a result of separating the skin from its nerves. The nerves  regrow in 3-6 months after surgery.

Robert M. Freund, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 34 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.