Facelift recovery and swelling?

Is it necessary to wear a compression mask to control swelling after a facelift? What exactly does the compression do? How long must this be worn?

Doctor Answers 16

Compression garments

My patients wear a compression chin strap at night for a week. I am in the camp that believes it hastens recovery by reducing haematoma and seroma formation, provides compressive support and serves as a reminder that surgery has been perfomed! It is removable and noone has complained of discomfort. It took me a while to find the right brand of garment but now I have my patients don't mind it at all.

London Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 128 reviews

No compression mask or cooling machine after facelift

Compression masks and cooling machines after a facelift are cumbersome, unnecessary, expensive, and annoying after a facelift.  I send patients home with the instructions to use frozen peas and corn about the eyes and cheeks.  A small dressing is placed about the neck for 24 hours.   They sleep with head elevated and continue to do so for 14 days to a degree that is comfortable.  They all keep their sodium intake to less that 1500mg a day.  Patients do very well with this regimen even if extensive lifts are done.  There is a lot to be said for KEEPING IT SAFE AND SIMPLE.   My Best,  Dr C

Care after a facelift

I have my patients wear an elastic wrap around the chin and ears for a few days after the procedure. The dressing can be taken on and off as needed but it does help to have something to protect and provide gentle compression while healing. The recovery time is approximately 7-10 days to look 'restaurant ready', (Complete healing takes longer). The dressing also serves as a reminder to be careful with the areas worked on during the initial healing phase. 

Dilip D. Madnani, MD, FACS
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Facelift recovery

I would say that it is not necessary to wear a compression device after a facelift, but in some instances, it might be helpful.  The compression device can help to decrease the swelling a bit faster, but normally this would go down over time anyway.  Different surgeons may or may not use a compression mask and the length of time to use one would vary as well.  

Michael I. Echavez, MD
San Francisco Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

How can I control swelling after facelift surgery?

Swelling is normal following a facelift surgery. Some measures to reduce the amount of swelling include: a) Try to keep your head above the level of your heart at all times for the first 2 weeks. Do not sleep with your head resting on multiple pillows as this will flex your neck and cause bleeding and/or bunching of the neck skin. I recommend a large wedge that elevates your back and your head. b) Use cooling measures such ice water soaked gauze or ice water in a ziplock for the first 48 hours. Your skin should just feel cool to the touch. Avoid anything completely frozen such as gel packs as this can cause damage to your skin. c) Avoid activities that involve bending over or straining. You should also minimize your salt intake as much as possible after surgery. Ideally you should ingest no more than 2 grams per day for the first 3 months after surgery. d) oral steroids such as a Medrol dose pack to help reduce your inflammation and swelling from surgery. e) Light compression, such as a neck wrap, helps prevent swelling in the specific area that is being compressed. It is important that it is not tight but just lightly compressive. A neck wrap is ideally worn during the time of greatest swelling which is the first 2 weeks. All of these measures combined will help minimize the amount of swelling you encounter following surgery.

Jason Roostaeian, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Swelling after facelift

Thank you for your question for sharing your concerns with us. Swelling and firmness in the tissues will return to normal as time passes by. Between the first and second week, much of your swelling and bruising will dissipate. I generally recommend patients use compression for the first week non-stop with the exception to shower.  For the second week, I encourage them to use a whenever they can but for ~12 hours a day if possible.
It may take more than a month or two for your tissues to fully soften and any residual swelling to resolve. Lymphatic massage maybe an option to help clear the swelling and firmness at a faster pace. I would make sure that you continue to follow up with your plastic surgeon during this period of time.

Compression Not Usually Necessary

Good question. Different surgeons vary in their approach to having patients wear garments. However, beyond about 1 week there is no evidence that compression will affect the long-term result. Many surgeons including myself have the patient wear no compression garment postoperatively. In my hands, compression has no effect on the outcome, and it is uncomfortable and confining for the patient. If I am doing submental liposuction only (it is always part of a facelift) I do find compression useful for 48 hours, and night wear for 5 nights, because the tissues have not been tightened. Thanks for asking.

Compressive Garment after Facelift

While the use of a compressive garment is not essential, I prefer my patients to wear it for the a portion of the day for the first few weeks after surgery. This helps limit swelling, speed up social recovery, and prevent complications. I generally ask patients to wear the garment at least 4 hours a day while they are up and moving about at home, but not to sleep in it so it does not fold on itself and create creases in the skin. Good luck.

Facelift - vertical laser assisted facelift


While many doctors suggest this, i do nt have my patients wear any type of compression garment.  The reason… by using a laser to dissect the tissue, there is less bleeding, residual trauma then when I did not use a laser to dissect during the surgical procedure.  

In terms of your current situation, please consult with your doctor to determine the best post operative course for you.   

Michael Kulick, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
2.5 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Yes, wear the garment

Even a light compression garment can be helpful in limited persistent or recurrent swelling (edema).  In particular, you want to wear it in the night time when you are laying down as facial swelling may increase then.

John Frodel, MD
Atlanta Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

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.