Migrating Feeling of Tightness After Mini-facelift -- Why?

Just wondering why the uncomfortable feeling of tightness after a mini-lift seems to migrate from place to place? 11 weeks after mini-lift I often feel uncomfortable tightness around ears but sometimes at temples and other times along jaw line. And at some unhappy times at all three sites at once. I find this phenomenon to be very interesting (in a masochistic kind of way.) Any theories as to why it happens? Thanks. (The doctors on this site are the greatest!)

Doctor Answers 9

Tightness Around Ears and Jawline After Facelift

    In general, tightness at the ear can be due to plication sutures or tension point on the skin pull.  The jawline tightness can be due to lateral platysmal plication or corset platysmaplasty.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 496 reviews

Mini-Facelift and post op feeling of tightness

At 11 weeks post mini-facelift it is not unusual to have a feeling of tightness.  The normal post operative scars that form following a facelift will be at their tightest and most bothersome from approximately 6 to 12 weeks following the procedure.  These symptoms will improve and resolve overtime.  To help speed the healing process you can massage the scars and use over the counter topical 1% hydrocortizone cream.  Best wishes.

Vincent D. Lepore, MD
San Jose Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Tightness is normal during the healing process of a mini facelift.

What you are experiencing can be normal during the healing process. You are only eleven weeks out from your initial surgery. Light massages of those uncomfortable areas may help. Also, do not be afraid to bring up this concern with your surgeon. I am sure s/he wants to make sure you are healing well.
Dr. H

Carlo P. Honrado, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Tightness After Mini-Facelift

This does not sounds uncommon, because of the tightening of the muscles in the face. This sensation takes about 6 months to be completely healed.

Elliot M. Heller, MD
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 93 reviews

After Facelift, You Can Have Transient Odd Sensations


What you are describing does not sound worrisome and should go away.  Little nerve fibers regenerate slowly over several months.  As long as you look good!

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Tightness three months after facelift

Usually our patients experience some numbness on the cheek in front of the ear which clears at about three months. Also, as the SMAS, or deeper tissue is tightened, some may still feel a tighness in the ear, neck or cheek intitially which again settles by three months. The tighness will not stay and perhaps ultrasound will help soften things up.

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Shifting tightness after face lift

The most likely cause is either normal wound healing or reaction to absorbing sutures.

A lot goes in inside while you heal. 

  • Fibroblast cells make collagen Type IV to seal the wound for 6 weeks
  • Sutures start to absorb - week 2 - 6.
  • Fibroblast cells replace collagen Type IV with collagen Type II - 6 months or more.
  • And much much more - 

If the tightness is getting slowly better, you are probably feeling the healing. If not, sutures are a likely cause. What about calling your surgeon? Some sutures near the skin can be removed for your comfort. Best wishes.

Elizabeth Morgan, MD, PhD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

These are common symptoms after skin is lifted and seperated from the underlying nerves

You can make the areas more comfortable by  massage.

The routine is as follows.

  • apply a light moisterizer to your skin
  • begin to massage areas lightly in a circular motion
  • increase the intensity of the massage till it firmer but not heavy.
  • repeat twice daily

This usually will make you comfortable within a week.

Avoiding the areas actually will usually make the sensations you are having worse.


Dr. Mayl

Fort Lauderdale

Nathan Mayl, MD (retired)
Fort Lauderdale Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Tightness After Facelift

Dear Carol99,

Two things commonly are responsible for the feelings you are describing.  First, there is still some swelling in the soft tissues of the face and depending on how you may have slept or for other reasons that we may never understand, different areas may be a bit more swollen from one day to the next.  As the tissues heal, these episodes of swelling will go away and the sensation of tightness also goes away.

Speaking of sensation, the nerves that were injured in the normal process of a facelift procedure are also healing and "waking up".  Just like your lips after having dental work, the areas of the face may have some strange sensations during the wake up period which also will go away as the nerves recover.

Of course if you have any questions about your recovery, please call your plastic surgeon.  Hope this helps.

Herluf G. Lund, Jr, MD
Saint Louis Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 85 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.