Intermittant Swelling 6 Months After SMAS Lift

Normal for intermittant swelling around the ears 6 months p.operative? I have swelling in the area where the SMAS was lifted sometimes more than others. It has been 6 months and although no one els may notice I feel it.

Doctor Answers 10

Intermittent Swelling following SMAS lift

Intermittent swelling near your ears may be due to parotid gland swelling but often regardless of the cause tends to resolve on its own in most. You should see your plastic surgeon either way for an exam and opinion.

Everyone wants an immediate result - including surgeons! Unfortunately this just isn't how we heal. four months is just too early to tell and I would NOT do anything surgical at this point. Your specific area of fullness is typical for certain types of SMAS lifts such as the MACS lift or others that suture in this area. 

There are many predictable portions of the healing process that ALL PATIENTS EXPERIENCE. Although both doctor and patients would like to not have this happen, it is part of the healing process.  Massage can some times be of benefit during this time period These Side effects refer to what you will be experiencing from the facelift healing process: Here are some of the common things you will experience. The common side effects include: swelling which is maximum 2-3 days later, bruising (highly variable), numbness which takes several months to resolve,  tightness takes several days to months to resolve, discomfort chewing (technique dependent), discomfort (generally mild with this surgery, nausea (variable) and in some patients emotional lability in some. Although most of the visible edema resolves in 2-3 weeks in mini-lifts and 3-4 weeks in traditional facelift approaches, residual firmness (edema you feel but don’t see) can linger for several months. Skin suppleness also takes a while to return as does scar maturation. I tell my patients it takes up to a year for final resolution of the healing process. In my experience, the above rough time table is usually delayed in smokers, when multiple procedures are performed together and when resurfacing procedures are done at the same time as the lift. The same is true if complications occur such as infection, hematoma, skin loss or compromise, etc.  Facelifts and all surgical procedures for that matter share several possible complications - such as excessive bruising or bleeding (e.g. hematoma), injury to deeper structures, anesthetic complications and so on

Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 157 reviews

Swelling after SMAS Facelift

At six months postoperatively your swelling should pretty much be resolved.  There may be some small areas that are still swollen.  I would recommend that you follow up with your surgeon to make sure there is nothing bad going on.  

Michael Sundine, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Swelling after a facelift is normal.

The swelling may take up to 12 months to totally resolve.  Just make sure you keep following up with you plastic surgeon to make sure there is no excess fluid collection or infection.

Jeffrey E. Schreiber, MD, FACS
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 202 reviews

Intermittenet swelling after SMAS

Certainly, you may have some swelling after a facelift depending upon your acitivity level that may persist even for a year or more.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Swelling after a facelift

It is usually the case that patients are very presentable at 2 weeks after surgery.  The complete healing process takes 4-6 months though as the nerves and lymph channels regenerate slowly to regain feeling and reduce subtle swelling.  Not infrequently patients may "feel" something nobody can see.  Time and gentle massage usually take care of that.  This is not a problem.

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

Swelling 6 months after SMAS facelift

It is still possible to have some residual swelling and tightness after a SMAS facelift. The swelling could be due to several factors such as salt intake, hormones, and altitudes and air pressure changes and is just the normal healing process. Have your surgeon consider placing some dilute solutions with cortisone into that area that feels tight and swollen.

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 145 reviews

Facelift healing, swelling

You could get swelling in different areas after any surgery until all the healing occurs which is usually one year or so after a procedure. This swelling can also be because of excess salt intake, menstrual cycle. A SMAS procedure does not by itself cause more swelling but it usually improves the results and helps with the scars. 

Edward J. Domanskis, MD
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 27 reviews


I do believe a good exam by your surgeon is in order just to make sure all is OK.

Most probably you are OK and need more time. You could have had a more aggressive face lift

Samir Shureih, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Swelling 6 months after facelift.

You should not have abnormal local swelling at this late date. See your surgeon to examine this and tell you if it is just a "feeling" or if there is swelling there.

Toby Mayer, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Subtle swelling may persist for months after a facelift.

Like all operations, swelling may persist in subtle form for months.  Most of the time patients are completely presentable in about 2 weeks, but there will be changes gradually occurring over a longer period of time.

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.8 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.