What is the recovery time for a traditional face lift?

Doctor Answers 23

Expect to Take 2 Weeks Off

I always recommend a two-week recovery for most patients but also advise them that they will probably be ready to return to their usual activities by 10 days.  More aggressive facelifts that directly address the midface will entail a longer recovery.  Each patient heals differently.  I have seen patients be able to return to activities in one week and I have seen others that have taken three weeks to recover.  Rest is essential for a quicker recovery.

Some General Facelift Recovery Guidelines

A facelift recovery is unique, because there are really different types of recovery. There is the physical recovery that's associated with all cosmetic surgery — that's the healing process. But because the face is visible at all times, there is a social recovery time as well. By that I mean you'll need to consider how long it will take before you feel comfortable enough with your appearance to return to work or meet socially with friends and acquaintances. If you're planning on attending a more significant social engagement — a wedding or class reunion, for example — the social recovery time is usually longer. Many patients are comfortable in casual social settings about 2 weeks after surgery. You may still have some swelling, but most of the bruising can be camouflaged nicely with makeup. As for a wedding or similar event, I strongly advise patients to allow at least 6 weeks between the procedure and the engagement. I hope this helps. 

James N. Romanelli, MD, FACS
Long Island Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Facelift Recovery

Great question! Most of the time, patients are up and around 2-3 days after surgery, are ready to go out in public 10 days after surgery, and are “black tie ready” 3 weeks after surgery. It’s important to keep in mind that everyone heals differently so there are a small number of people who take longer. There are things that I recommend patients doing to help promote healing like eating a healthy diet, getting lots of rest, and not resuming exercise for a month after surgery. These things will all help keep swelling at a minimum and ensure that you are able to enjoy your surgical result as soon as possible.

Babak Azizzadeh, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Recovery Time

The typical amount of time to recover from a facelift and resume normal activities is about 3-4 weeks. However, we recommend waiting 4-6 weeks after surgery to begin heavy work-outs such as running, weight lifting, yoga, etc. Of course, recovery time also depends on the type of facelift. Numbness of the skin is normal, but usually takes more than 3-6 weeks to resolve. Return of normal skin sensation can take 2 to 12 months. 

John S. Lee, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Recovery Time Varies by Technique

This question is best posed to your surgeon. Each plastic surgeon will provide specific instructions and should be able to provide a timeline that corresponds with the technique used. Recovery from a facelift is unique because it also involves more than just physical recovery. Because facial plastic surgery is visible to everyone, there is a social aspect to your recovery time (i.e., how soon you're comfortable being seen in public). That varies from patient to patient, depending on each person's comfort level with having co-workers or friends know about the surgery. Additionally, if you're planning to get a facelift before a significant social event — such as a wedding or class reunion — you should plan for additional time to make sure you are fully healed.

Marc DuPere, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Depends on how quickly your bruises disapate

Facelifts cause very little physical discomfort.   What keeps people out of the public eye initially is swelling and bruising.    The swelling takes a week or two to go to the point it would not be noticeable to others but different people lose their bruises at different rates, some quicker, some slower.      Most people can return to the public eye in two weeks, but subtle  swelling remains and patients do not look their best for about four months.

Recovery from a Facelift

Recovery time from a facelift will vary from 7-14 days. If additional procedures are performed in conjunction with the facelift then you could expect your recovery to be closer to two weeks. No two patients heal exactly the same due to varying anatomy and genetic factors. I have patients who look great the next day while others need the full two weeks to recover. 
Before, during, and after surgery, everything I do is designed to achieve the most natural and elegant result while minimizing your downtime.

Steven M. Daines, MD
Newport Beach Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Recovery time for a Facelift

Facelift surgery has evolved greatly over the past 40 years.  The recovery time has shortened and the results stay longer than ever before.  The typical recovery for a facelift is around 3 weeks.  It varies by the person and by the actual procedure being done.  Some facelift techniques only lift the skin which has a shorter recovery, but a much shorter longevity of results.  Additionally, if additional procedures are done in conjunction with the facelift like a brow lift, upper and lower eye lid lifts, fat grafting and skin resurfacing, the recovery time increases.  It is important to follow your plastic surgeon's pre-operative instructions as well as the post-operative instructions to help improve your recovery.

Kent V. Hasen, MD
Naples Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Facelift recovery...

Your instructions will vary from surgeon to surgeon, so it's important to discuss your surgeon's specific instructions to maximize your recovery.  I generally tell patients that they must avoid turning the head or stretching the neck for 2 weeks. When you turn, move the shoulders and head as one unit or as though you had a “stiff neck.” This is important to prevent stretching the healing incisions and causing the scars to widen, as well as to prevent putting tension on the deep sutures beneath the skin, which could cause them to pull loose.  Because of this risk, we advise patients to not drive for 2 weeks following surgery. In order to minimize swelling, you are advised to sleep with the head of your bed elevated or in a recliner for 2-4 weeks post-op.  With some make-up, your hair worn down, a neck scarf, and thick-rimmed sunglasses, you should be able to go out in public within a few days with minimal attention drawn to yourself. Most patients take 2 weeks off from work after a rhytidectomy and are able to resume their exercise regimen within 3-4 weeks.

Parker A. Velargo, MD
New Orleans Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Facelift: Recovery time

This question will generate different answers based on each physician's experience and facelift technique. On average, I find that my patients feel comfortable going out in public as soon as 7 days after a facelift, but still with some visible signs of mild swelling and or bruising. They are able to slowly start getting back to exercise at 2 weeks after an extended face and neck lift surgery. 

Mark Karolak, DO, FAOCO
Bridgewater Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 36 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.