What is the recovery time for face/neck lift?

I would like to return to work as soon as possible so I am concerned about bruising and swelling.

Doctor Answers 13

Face/Neck Lift Recovery

Thank you for your question.  

It is important to realize that the amount of time it takes to recover from facelift surgery varies greatly between individuals. Elevation of the head is extremely helpful in reducing the initial Postoperative swelling. You may also be advised to use ice packs intermittently.

You should avoid Aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for the first few days after your surgery. Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke should be avoided to prevent delays in the healing process.

Once the dressings and drains are removed, puffiness and discoloration may be more pronounced in some portions of the face than others. Do not be alarmed by any unevenness or temporary asymmetry. This is normal. Most swelling is usually noted in the first 24 to 48 hours, and most bruising resolves within two weeks. Concealing makeup is usually permitted after the first week. You may experience numbness to the face postoperatively, which usually resolves within several months.

Some patients find that mild swelling persists for many weeks. Most stitches are removed within a week of the surgery.

Of course, many of our modern mini facelifts, such as the MACS facelift, allow patients to literally be back in public or work in as little as three days with little or no bruising!

Straining, bending and lifting should be avoided during the early postoperative period as these activities may predispose you to bleeding.

We will give you specific instructions that may include caring for the dressings and incisions, directions for your analgesics and other medications, specific concerns to look for, and when to follow up in the office to monitor your healing process. It may take several months for the swelling to fully resolve, and up to six months for the incision scars to fully fade. Avoidance of factors that could reduce the benefits of the surgery, such as excessive unprotected sun exposure and cigarette use, is vital. Best of luck!

Dhaval M. Patel

Double Board Certified 

Plastic Surgeon 

Hoffman Estates 




Hoffman Estates Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 93 reviews

Jawline/neck liposuction recovery is only 1-2 days.

there is almost no bruising nor swelling after neck lipo since we use special foam pads to prevent this. Most patients go back to work in 24 hrs.

David Hansen, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Recovery from a Face/Neck Lift

Typically, patients who undergo a facelift or neck lift procedure can return to normal activities after two weeks. During this time you may experience side effects such as bruising or a tight sensation on the neck. Scarring can take months to recover depending on where the incision is made by your surgeon. At my practice I have created a Rapid Recovery Face and Neck lift that has a 7 day recovery period and virtually no visible scars by the 2 week mark. In most cases your stitches are removed 7-10 days after surgery and you can start wearing makeup 7 days after surgery. 

Sam Rizk, MD
New York Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 73 reviews

Recovery from neck lift takes up to 4 weeks

Hi Patrick,
Recovery from neck lift surgery takes anywhere from two to four weeks in most people, though many patients go back to work in two weeks. Scars are usually not noticeable after enough time has passed for them to mature. In any case, they are easily disguised in natural skin creases, or by the hair. In persistent cases scars can be hidden with makeup until total healing has occurred. Bear in mind that the aging process continues after surgery and that some relaxation of tissues will occur over the first few weeks. It is recommended that even if very little pain is expected after surgery, you should still take pain killers.  Some degree of swelling and bruising is unavoidable; cold compresses will help keep swelling to a minimum.  If a dressing has been applied, it will be removed within one to two days.  You need to keep your head elevated when lying down, to avoid as much activity as possible, and to report any undue discomfort. In some cases, a drainage tube may have been inserted during surgery. This will be removed on the first or second day after surgery. All sutures and staples are usually removed within five to 10 days following surgery. Vigorous activity should be avoided.  

Jan Zemplenyi, MD
Bellevue Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

What is the recovery time for face/neck lift?

Hi, I have performed facelifts for over 30 years and have performed many minimally, invasive type facelifts.  Non smiling photos of your face from the front and side would help in the evaluation.  Following the beauty principles outlined in my book on face and body beauty, women look the most feminine, youthful and attractive with heart shaped faces.  Heart shaped faces have cheeks that are full and round in the front.  Cheek augmentation with a dermal filler or using cheek implants for a permanent enhancement will create full, round cheeks that will feminize the entire face.  Conversely, men look chiseled and handsome with angularity in the cheeks, chin and mandibular angles.

If the chin is weak, this creates an imbalance making the nose appear larger, the mid face top heavy and the lower face look short that de-emphasizes the lips and allows early formation of a double chin.  Chin augmentation using a chin implant will add projection to the chin creating harmony and balance to the lower face.   I have found that placement of a silastic chin implant, through a small curved incision under the chin (also allows excess skin removal) to be very safe, quick and highly effective.

 If you have "jowls” these are sagging facial tissues and an indication for some form of a SMAS facelift.  The underlying SMAS layer, of the face, must be dissected, lifted, trimmed and re-sutured (not merely folded or suspended with threads or sutures that will not last).  The excess skin is then removed and the facelift incisions closed. My most popular facelift is the minimally invasive, short incision facelift that has all the benefits of more invasive facelifts (traditional, mid-face, deep plane, cheek lift and subperiosteal facelifts) but with these added benefits:
  • very small incisions
  • minimal tissue dissection = less bruising and swelling = rapid recovery (several days instead of weeks or months with the more invasive type facelifts mentioned)
  • can be performed in 90 minutes or less, with or without general anesthesia
  • no incisions within the hair = no hair loss
  • excess fat can be removed
  • excess skin removed
  • cheeks, chin and jaw line can be augmented with dermal fillers (I prefer Restylane Lyft) or facial implants
  • most patients fly back home to parts all over the world in as little as 3 days post-op
I combine facial shaping with every facelift procedure.  When jowls are present, these should be done in concert and not alone or separately in order to create a naturally, more attractive face.

Hope this helps.

Francis R. Palmer, III, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Face and neck lift recovery

Thank you for asking about your face and neck lift.
  • On average, back to work after a face and neck lift is 10 - 14 days.
  • It depends on your job, your ability to conceal bruising with make-up and how self-conscious you feel
  • Bruising usually takes 3 weeks to fully subside but is usually in the neck by the 3rd week and can be covered with a neck scarf.
  • Swelling begins to go down after 5 days - but all the swelling is not gone for at least 6 months.
  • I have had patients with good make-up go to important social events and give national speeches one week after a face lift - so early on make-up is important.
Always consult a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.  Best wishes. Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

Elizabeth Morgan, MD, PhD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Double Chin Treatment / Laxity-- SmartLipo/VASER/ThermiRF, Botox, Venus Legacy, Kybella, CoolMini

On average, the recovery time is about two weeks. An alternative is VASER/ThermiRF combination to get great results with very little downtime. Please see an expert. Best, Dr. Emer

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 190 reviews

Face and Neck Lift: Recovery

This question will generate different answers based on each physician's experience and face/neck lift technique. On average, I find that my patients feel comfortable going out in public around 7 days after a face and/or neck lift procedure with some signs of mild bruising/swelling. It's always my patients that follow my postop instructions in detail that heal the quickest.  I offer my patients laser treatments to the bruises during that first week as part of their aftercare to help speed up the process if needed. Most patients are able to slowly start getting back to exercise at 2 weeks after an extended face and neck lift surgery. For important social events, premiers, or television appearances, I recommend 4 weeks in the rare event that there may be a delay in healing. 

Mark Karolak, DO, FAOCO
Bridgewater Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

Recovery Time after Face Lift, Neck Lift

The answer to your question will depend on the extent of the facelift which is done for facial rejuvenation. In most cases I tell my patients to allow 12-14 days after a complete traditional facelift before returning to their normal personal and professional activities. Exceptions would be individuals who are in front of the public or on camera and patients who are physically very active; I recommend they allow a little more time.

Richard W. Fleming, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Postoperative Recovery

Thank you for your question. Postoperative recovery can vary but typically patients are presentable to be out and about within two weeks. That is not to say that all healing is complete at this point. Healing will continue for several months. By two weeks the majority of bruising has resolved and a significant amount of swelling has abated such that patients look well enough to return to work and social activities. Some patients will be out of this range and its important to adhere to avoiding certain things pre-op which can prolong healing: NSAID's. aspirin, fish oil, Vitamin D etc. Treatment with Arnica and Bromelain preoperatively can be helpful to reduce bruising and swellingBest of LuckDrG

Lee A. Gibstein, MD
Miami 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.