My Face is Swollen After Deep Plane Facelift, When Will This And Bruising Subside? Worried About Returning To Work.

It's been 5 days since my facelift. My face is swollen and the chin area is swollen. And there is bruising. Brusing can be covered with makeup but not swelling. My plastic surgeon I could probably return to work in two weeks or maybe even sooner. He said that while I would be ready for "prime time" no one would really notice. I'm panicked because I'm reading the answers that my face will be swollen and bruised. I'll have to quit my job. I can't go back to work like this. Help!

Doctor Answers 25

Swelling after face lift

At about 5 days out, you are at the peak of post-operative swelling.  This is expected and normal, and will subside with time.  I tell my patients not to schedule any big social events for the first month after a facelift.

You can help it by:

1) keeping your head elevated, during the day and at night

2)  using warm compresses

3)  some physicians like arnica and bromelain supplements, although the data on these is a little weak.

Check with your physician to make sure you don't have anything going on that would make swelling worse, like a hematoma or other fluid collection under the skin.


Orlando Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 80 reviews

Facelift - Swelling After Deep Plane Facelift

It typically takes several weeks for most of the swelling to subside, and several months for all of it.  Five days post-op is just about the worst time to have to make a judgment on how long it will take for things to settle down but I understand your concerns with this.  You need to, of course, speak with your surgeon about any of the specifics.

I usually tell my patients to plan on being out of work for 10-14 days, depending on exactly what they're having done.  But the entire process is a little unpredictable and so 3 weeks is a slightly safer range to plan for.  Even then, there can be some persistent bruising that may be noticeable.

For sure, though - don't quit that job!  You'll look much better by that, everyone will deal with it, and - in the end - you may be surprised at how little people notice, even if you think it's incredibly obvious.

I hope that this helps, and good luck,

Dr. E

Alan M. Engler, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 125 reviews

Facelift swelling is normal for up to 12 weeks

Most of my patients experience bruising and swelling for at least 4-8 weeks that is noticeable enough that they feel the need to camouflage and cover up. Between 8-12 weeks the signs are less noticeable, but some swelling still remains. To lesson your swelling AVOID any strenuous activity and bending over...and be patient, it will resolve soon enough.


Best of Luck, Dr. Clevens


Ross A. Clevens, MD
Melbourne Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 120 reviews

5 days is a bit early to panic over bruising.

Presuming you have another 5 days or more.  A lot of improvement will take place over the next 5 days or so.  Ready for "Prime Time" no one is really ready for prime time 10 days after a facelift.  We advise celebrity clients to  put off TV appearances for at least 4 weeks and movie or photo sessions for 6 weeks.  The camera will easily pick up traces of swelling.  From most social situations that the average person will be dealing with, it really is true that at 2 weeks with a little make up, one can pass in most any social circumstance.  This is provided you don't have profound bruising.  If you have more than normal bruising (no photo so I will take you at your word)  it might take you a little longer to reach this point.

Another issue after surgery is what happens when you are healing from major cosmetic surgery.  It is very common for individuals to be blue or even frankly depressed.  I think this occurs because surgery takes you out of your routine.  Generally treatment is not necessary because as soon as your bruise improves enough that you feel comfortable leaving the cabin, the feels begin to lift.  Day five is often the low point because cabin fever is at its maximum.  So hang in there, I think soon you will feel you have turned a corner.

Kenneth D. Steinsapir, MD
Beverly Hills Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Deep plane facelift and swelling

swelling always subsides. deep plane lifts take longer.   you can continue ice..  look into continous cooling systems ,  you can also ask your doctor about remedies such as medrol dospak

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 110 reviews

Deep plane facelift swelling may be more, but will resolve!

After only 5 days, any kind or type of facelift will cause swelling and varying degrees of bruising. By 2 weeks post-op, there will be substantial improvement, but each patient is individual in their amounts of initial swelling and bruising, as well as their body's abiity to reabsorb this. Here are a few things to do to help the healing process along:

  • Avoid lifting, straining, or any strenuous activities that might raise your blood pressure or pulse--this could worsen the swelling, or even cause bleeding and re-operation.
  • Don't lay flat (sleep with head slightly above heart level) for 3 weeks after surgery; this way, gravity helps continuously resolve swelling.
  • Don't take pain medication on an empty stomach--this could cause nausea and vomiting. This is most important for the night after surgery and the next day or so, so this should not be an issue for you, but may help other paients reading this answer.
  • Start a stool softener the day after surgery so pain medication, reduced activity, and the after-effects of anesthesia (all of these slow the gut and can cause constipation) don't give you a reason to strain in the restroom!
  • Don't stress about returning to work; worrying only increases your blood pressure and increases the very things you are worried about--bruising and/or swelling.
  • Take Arnica Montana, which is a homeopathic oral medication that helps reduce bruising. Though not a pharmaceutical, I believe this really works, and we supply it to all of our facial surgery patients. (You can find this without a prescription at a health foods store.)
  • Don't remove cover make-up too vigorously! Let your tissues heal.

Swelling after deep-plane facelift tends to be more severe and long-lasting than after SMAS or skin-only facelifts, which is one reason I have not been a big fan of subperiosteal lifts. Excellent plastic surgeons obtain good results from this operation, however, so you should expect this as well.

It sounds as if your doctor has explained recovery expectations appropriately--you won't be ready for a photo shoot or one-on-one interview, but you will likely look just fine after 2 weeks of healing. And since you will look more youthful and "rested," of course people may notice! If you planned on looking exactly the same (so no one would notice), then you perhaps set yourself up for your present anxiety! Don't worry, most acquaintances won't look at your appearance as critically as you do, and even if there are subtle differences in how you look (of course there will be), only the busybodies will be rude enough to comment. Just smile sweetly and say "Thank you for noticing!"

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 255 reviews

Swelling after a deep plane facelift

I prepare patients to be able to return to work after two weeks after a deep plane or composite facelift. However it will take longer for all of the swelling to resolve. Usually with deeper techniques there is less bruising but the more swelling. Be patient. Ask for help with make up in order to help change the hightlight areas of your swelling.

Ronald Schuster, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 78 reviews

Swelling after a facelift

Please stay calm as it has only been 5 days and direct all your concerns back to your own surgeon.  Getting your blood pressure up with anxiety will certainly increase your swelling, delay your healing and not help anything.  So please let the doctor who did your surgery hold your hand through this process.  You will probably look fine by 2 weeks but staying calm is vital.

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

At 5 days post-op, it’s completely normal to be swollen and bruised.

At 5 days post-op, it’s completely normal to be swollen and bruised. Most of my patients are able to return to work with some makeup at 7 to 14 days post-op, depending on how comfortable they are with going out in public with minor swelling and bruising. After two weeks, it should be fairly easy to cover up any remaining swelling or bruising, and you should certainly be able to go back to work no problem. While swelling can remain for a few months after surgery, it should not be that noticeable to anyone but yourself. It’s far too early to panic, please be patient and you should see your condition improving over the next week or so.

Jonathan Kulbersh, MD
Charlotte Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

Bruising after a facelift

Swelling and bruising is normal after a facelift and, on average, lasts about 14 days. Of course, that is an average and there are people on either side of that number. There are younger patients who only bruise for 5-7 days and there are older individuals who bruise and swell for 6 weeks but on average, 14 days is what most people get.  The swelling and bruising usually peaks at 5 days so you're seeing it at its worst.  

The amount and duration of the swelling and bruising depends on several factors such as diet before the procedure, medications, herbal supplements, activity after the procedure, age (vessels are more fragile as one ages), the extent of the procedure, other concomitant procedures adding to the bruising, habits such as smoking, and envirnomental factors such as heat, excessive sneezing or coughing, etc.

You can help bruising by increasing your intake of pineapple, arnica montana, and papaya extract; all of these have been shown to minimize bruising formation. To improve an existing bruise, consider lympatic massage by your surgeon's office, keeping your head elevated, cool compresses, topical arnica montana, and topical vit K in addition to increasing intake of green leafy vegetables.

Hematomas, a collection of blood under the skin, even when cleared still leaves behind a residual amount of blood under the skin and can prolong the bruising period. In the end, bruising always goes away, but can be a nuisiance when it doesn't resolve as expected. Good Luck!

Mike Majmundar, MD
Atlanta Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 49 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.