Is dense facial numbness and ridges normal 5 weeks out of surgery?

I'm a 56 year old male. I had a mid face lift and fat lipoed from under my chin 5 weeks ago. Probably the biggest mistake I've ever made. I still have dense numbness from the incisions forward to the cheek bones and down to and under my chin. I also have ridges on my cheek and the under lying tissue does not quite make in all the way down to the jaw line on one side. The Doc says it's normal, but I don't buy it. I can't imagine this is normal. The numbness is unbearable. Any thoughts?

Doctor Answers 14

Facial numbness and ridges

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thanks for your question and so sorry you are having these troubles. No one facelift is the same, I have had patients who I thought would breeze through surgery take a few weeks and others who I thought would need a lot of aftercare get back to normal within days. 

At this stage numbness is completely normal and expected. The ridges less so but should settle. See you surgeon and trust that he/she can look after you as you trusted them to do the surgery. 

Good luck!

Numbness after mid facelift

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Numbness 5 weeks post surgery is not uncommon and it could take many months to regain feeling in your face again. The numbness should start to improve when the swelling subsides. Good luck to you.

Edward E. Dickerson, IV, MD
Fayetteville Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 127 reviews

Numbness after Mid-Facelift

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The numbness you've described is not uncommon.  It can take 6-12 months for the healing process to be completed.  I encourage you to follow up with your surgeon or his/her clinical team as they have pre and post procedure information that is helpful as you continue in the healing process.

Ross A. Clevens, MD
Melbourne Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 124 reviews

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Numbness after midfacelift

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Hi jojman. Sorry you are having difficulty after your surgery. At 5 weeks after surgery, numbness is not uncommon. It typically recovers over the course of the next few months. The ridges on your cheek may just be swelling, but it is hard to comment without examining you. The face does swell significantly with a midface lift, so the recovery time can be a bit longer than a standard facelift. At 5 weeks, you still have a lot of healing to go. Be patient. It will continue to improve. Good luck. Best, Dr H 

Sanaz Harirchian, MD
Houston Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Numbness and ridges following facial surgery

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Hi hojman:

In today's fast-paced, fast-gratification world, we have come to desire and therefore expect healing in a time-frame that is unrealistic. The scar healing process along the tissue planes you cannot see are no different than the incision you can see.

Swelling peaks in a day or two and roller coasters up and down according to the amount of activity you do following surgery. It is for this reason, most physicians will recommend head elevation and cool compresses. 

At about 4 to 6 weeks, as the swelling is mostly resolving, the collagen content in the healing process is increasing to its peak (at about 3 months). It is during this time in the healing phase that tightening and distortion of the skin and soft tissues occur. Your alarm regarding the ridges maybe just that, tightening of the collagen formation process. This will begin to soften during the remodeling phase after 3 months. Your surgeon may recommend massage to help in the scaring process. 

When tissues are lifted, ie flap surgery, nerves can be cut or bruised. This will give you the dense numbness you are experiencing. The scaring process may also pull or interfere with nerve sensation return. Your description is very common at 5 weeks and should start to improve with recession of swelling and remodeling of scar. While most of activity and changes you experience in healing take place during the first 3 months, maturation and completion of healing will take 1 year from the time of surgery / injury or more. 

Sensitization and massage are 2 modalities a physical therapist may help you with. As pointed out below, you trusted your surgeon to perform the procedures, there are a few things to optimize the healing process and should be discussed with him / her. 

I hope this was helpful! All the best. 

Dean P. Kane, MD, FACS
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 103 reviews

Unhappy with mid face lift at 5 weeks

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Thank you so much for your question about your face lift recovery.

Dense numbness is normal after facial surgery - it is from swelling and it will go away but can take up to 18 months. The ridging is another matter but one would need a photo to see what has happened.

I am so sorry you are having a rough recovery - things will continue to improve.

Be sure to see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.
Here’s hoping you find this helpful. Have a great day!

Is dense facial numbness and ridges normal 5 weeks out of surgery?

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I would recommend that you continue close follow-up with your surgeon. You trusted him/her enough to perform the procedure. Continue that trust through the healing period. It may take 3 to 6 months for everything to resolve.

Numbess and ridges

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The numbness you describe is  not uncommon with the surgery you had. A mid facelift moves tissues around more than a SMAS facelift and with that comes more numbness. Ridges after the surgery can happen and do get better in time. We perform ultrasound massages twice per week to help all of those small little ridges and bumps resolve faster, but they will go away on their own in time. Please follow up with your surgeon as required and make sure you speak with him about your concerns so he can address them for you

Julio Garcia, MD
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Issues you are experiencing are normal and will resolve.

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The areas of numbness you are having are very common and are due to the nerves under your skin being unavoidably injured during surgery.  Time will likely see resolution of this.  The area of liposuction is firm due to swelling.  As the area beneath your chin is the lowest point, that is where the swelling settles.  A chin strap may help speed the resolution of this.  Time is on your side and as the tissues mature and soften the contour will improve and the numbness should subside over 6-10 months.

Probably normal

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Numbness is common, if not expected, in the ears and cheeks after most facelift procedures.  I inform my patients that it will take 3-6 months to improve.  Additionally, swelling and early scar tissue can result in firmness and ridges that can take the same length of time to improve.  So my advice is to "hang in there" as most of your issues are likely to get better with time.

John Frodel, MD
Atlanta Facial Plastic Surgeon

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.