How Long Does the Swelling Supposed to Last After a Face Lift and Neck Lift?

My mom is 61 years old and she had a complete face lift and double chin removal, its been 4 months since she had the surgery and she still is very swollen and her neck is very stiff she can't turn her head at all. Some days she wakes up a bit less swollen and then get swollen again, she also says that she feels that her face gets very hot and it itches. Is all these normal??

Doctor Answers 32

Swelling after facelift

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Swelling after a facelift is normal and expected. On average, patients can be presentable (with makeup) in 14 days. I don't recommend video appearances for 21 days and flash photography for 3 months. These are averages and so there are patients on either sides of these numbers.

In general, if you have a fuller face, you have more soft tissue than most so you'll hold on to fluid longer and have swelling after facelift longer. If you tend to bruise easily, your body has to clear the bruising so that will increase swelling in the area of the bruise more than average. Patients who have a robust immune system and heal well sometimes will swell even more because it's trying to do it too quickly and it will then take the fluid, from the increase in resources over a short period of time, time to dissipate and increase swelling after facelift. Thicker skin individuals, such as african-americans, asians, hispanics, and oily caucasians, will sometimes take longer to return to normal as well since thicker skin is like having a thicker sponge so swelling takes longer to resolve. Each person is different, but, on average, most people can plan on 14 days for noticeable swelling after facelift and to be presentable, with makeup.

In the end, the lymphatics, or drainage system, of your face has been interrupted by the surgery and recreating all these small vessels takes time and, in general, most people feel they look they're best around 3 months. Having said that, you are presentable at 14 days as almost 60% of the swelling is improved by then and 70% will improve by 6 weeks and then 80% around 3 months, on average Healing tissue takes a full year to mature in any part of the body so the last 20% will take 6-12 months depending on the person.

You can improve swelling after facelift by keeping your head elevated the first 2 weeks, applying cool compresses religiously the first week, minimizing activity after surgery, minimizing salt intake 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after surgery, using a steroid pack from your doctor, using a prescription version of arnica montana, and minimizing medications that can make you bruise 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after surgery such as aspirin, ibuprofen, herbal supplements especially green tea, gingko biloba, flax seed, fish oil, and multivitamins, especially those containing Vit E. Participating in lymphatic massages 10 days after the facelift can also help mobilize the fluid and minimize swelling; have a lymphatic massage once a week until the swelling has resolved.

Atlanta Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 50 reviews

Each patient is different and swelling may resolve at a different rate depending on the patient’s individual healing rate

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While for most patients the majority of the swelling after a facelift resolves after two weeks, with further minor swelling lasting for another few months, each patient is different and swelling may resolve at a different rate depending on the patient’s individual healing rate, the type of surgery done, after care, and more. I would encourage your mother to visit her surgeon for a follow-up visit to make sure that everything is healing properly. I hope this helps.

How long does swelling last?

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The resolution of swelling occurs in stages and is different in different patients, depending on the technique performed and the tissue quality of the patient. A 'simple' subcutaneous facelift probably has the least swelling, while a deep plane or subperiosteal facelift probably has the most. Similarly, patients with thick skin and 'heavy' faces tend to hold on to swelling for longer than patients with relatively thin skin. On average, most people are presentable, with makeup, around 3wks after surgery. Notable swelling will still be present for 6-8wks, and by 3mo the vast majority is gone. However, there is still probably 10-20% of swelling present at 3mo that can take the rest of the year to resolve. Swelling is dynamic with activity and increases with activity (normally .. even without surgery) .. so if you are very active you will swell, and given the surgical area is still healing, that swelling tends to stick around longer than it normally would. I hope this is helpful

Bryan Correa, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon

Face Lift Swelling 4 months after and stiff neck

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This can be normal. This is not uncommon after 4 months. At this point you likely have around 70% of your healing. We usually tell people that they will have 60% of their healing / recovery complete by 6 weeks, 80-90% by 6 months. 100% can take as long as 2 years. This is based on wound healing studies and tensile breaking strength of a heal wound. I would consult with the physician that did your procedure to assess the situation or you could always send us photos. The stiffness will get better. Right now you have 30% to go more so keep waiting. But get some help. Benedryl will help the itching. I would consider some pressure dressings, maybe even oral steroids.

Philip Young, MD
Bellevue Facial Plastic Surgeon

Facelift swelling

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It can be. Facelifts can remain stiff and swollen for up to a year although this is rare. Lymphatic massage is offered through our practice aesthetician which helps in most cases.

Timothy Fee, MD
Jacksonville Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

Persistent swelling 4 months after facelift

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Thank you for your question AGDO - Swelling after a facelift can be extremely frustrating for patients as they want to get back to their lives after surgery. Depending on how aggressive the facelift technique was the swelling can take up to 6 to 8 months to resolve completely. Itching after surgery is very common as the healing process progresses. 

Mark Schoemann MD, FACS

Results Vary Between Patients

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I'm sorry to hear that your mom is still experiencing discomfort after her facelift. Although it's uncommon for these symptoms to persist for 4 months after surgery, it does happen. It doesn't sound like your mom is at risk of any dangerous complications, but the symptoms you're describing are probably worth a call or visit to her surgeon's office. The staff there is more familiar with her case and can recommend different therapeutic options to help ease her symptoms. Best of luck!

James N. Romanelli, MD, FACS
Long Island Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Swelling after face and neck lift

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Thank you for your question for sharing your concerns with us. Swelling and numbness 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.
I would make sure that she continues to follow up with her plastic surgeon during this period of time, especially if she is finding that her neck range of motion is limited.

Swelling after Face Lift and Neck Lift

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Some swelling and bruising is to be expected. Bruising is treated with Arnica, an herb that will be provided by our office. Swelling and bruising is maximal at 48 hours post-surgery and gradually subsides over the following 10-14 days.Your final results will occur between 6-12 months. Do not compare your progress with that of other patients. Remember that everyone’s healing process is unique. Also, if you have any questions or concerns, call your physician. 

Jose E. Barrera, MD, FACS
San Antonio Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

How Long Does the Swelling Supposed to Last After a Face Lift and Neck Lift?

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Two month after facelift surgery most of swelling and numbness should be resolved. Initial hematoma or seroma formation can lead to distortion of lymphatic drainage causing prolonged tissue edema beyond two months period. Warm compress followed by deep massage, as well as anti-inflammatory medications will help to reduce edema followed by facelift surgery.

Kevin Sadati, DO
Orange County Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 224 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.