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 19

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
4.9 out of 5 stars 142 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
4.8 out of 5 stars 78 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 18 reviews

Healing and Recovery After Your Facial Procedure

First and foremost, its best to remain patient. It is still early in to your recovery. The healing process in general can take up to one month for the majority of swelling to subside, incisions to close, sutures to come out, and for bruising to completely go away.
#Recovery time from a #facelift varies from person to person, but patients can generally expect to be presentable within three weeks from surgery. Patients should expect swelling, bruising, and discoloration of the skin during this phase of recovery (swelling normally goes down after 48 hours; most bruising will go away within two weeks). The marks from a facelift can easily hidden with “camouflage” make-up which you can learn how to apply.
The scars from a facelift mature within six to twelve months from the surgery date. It is during this time that the rejuvenating effects of the facelift will become apparent and the real result will be seen. If you have certain concerns about the procedures and #healing process, it is recommended to call your board-certified surgeon or their medical staff and discuss those #concerns.

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 96 reviews

Compression Garment After a Facelift

While a lot of surgeons use compression garments for an extended period after surgery, there is no evidence in the medical literature that I am aware of that shows there is a benefit.  There is however some evidence that suggests that there may be problems caused by compression garments such as ear cartilage and ear lobes dying from too much pressure form the garments.  

I use a simple dressing for a day and then my patients are bandage free.  In fact, I have them in the shower the next day and washing their hair.  This helps them feel much better and it does not appear to affect the results at all.

I hope that helps.

Best regards

Brian Windle, MD
Kirkland Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Facelift Recovery and Swelling?

Thank you for your questions.  In my opinion I would only use a compression mask if a patient had neck liposuction, as this helps control swelling.  My patients which just have a facelift, I feel this is not necessary to wear a compression mask.  Tape will be put over incisions to protect and my patients will use the following protocol as a guideline for their recovery:


Here is a list of “Do’s and Don’ts”:

  • Do use a cool pack on the incisions as this will help reduce any residual fullness.
  • Do continue with painkillers if required, as around 5% of patients will have some ear pain which will settle within a week or two.
  • Do shower and hair wash daily.
  • Do resume normal activities however avoid vigorous exercise or heavy lifting for 2 weeks post procedure.
  • Don’t apply any make up, moisturiser or oils to the incision line until advised by us.
  • Don’t allow pets of any variety to share a bed with you and avoid allowing pets near your face for the first four weeks after your procedure. Allowing pets near your face has the potential to result in an infection. However being vigilant will help reduce this risk.
  • Do be vigilant with hand hygiene.
  • Do notify us immediately if you have any concerns or notice any increased redness, heat around the incision or if you have any discharge from around the ear.
Once you have seen your plastic surgeon for your follow up, they may advise on when you can start massaging the incision areas and the best technique to use. They may recommend the use of scar improvement oils such as Bio-oil.

All the Best with your recovery!

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
4.8 out of 5 stars 6 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.

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.