Can Swelling Ater a Facelift Stretch the Skin Back Out?

I've been reading that swelling after a face-lift can go on for months. As someone who has a lot of excess skin in the lower face and neck, I am concerned that if I have prolonged swelling after a facelift, the skin will stretch back out from the swelling -- and when the swelling dies down, there will once again be excess skin. Answers?

Doctor Answers 14

Prolonged Swelling Stretching Skin after Facelift?

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        The swelling after facelift will improve the appearance of the skin temporarily and may be a look that some patients like.  However, the skin will not be stretched to any appreciable degree during these first few weeks.

No need to worry!

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During the wound healing process, the swelling (edema) and contraction occur at completely different times.  Swelling occurs in response to surgery and is at it's maximum at 72hrs ( 3 days ).  The recoil properties of the skin, or the "contractile" properties of the skin will occur much later.

We do facelifts all the time in patients who have lots of excess skin - either from the aging process or even extreme weight loss.  They all do great!

The key is to find a good person who specializes in the aging face.  Best of luck to you!

W. Matthew White, MD
Manhattan Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Swelling after a face lift

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Not to worry- while there is some swelling after a face lift, it is not nearly enough to problematically re-stretch the skin.  It's certainly a logical question but not one that you should be concerned about.

Swelling will not stretch out a facelift

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The edema that occurs after a facelift will NOT stretch out the skin and reverse the facelift.  The majority of the lift comes from tightening the muscles, not the skin

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 158 reviews

Can swelling after a facelift stretch the skin?

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Once your swelling goes down following facelift surgery, your skin will not stretch back out, and there will not be excess skin as a result of the swelling. I would recommend discussing any concerns with your surgeon ahead of time before having surgery performed. I hope this helps, and best of luck to you.  

Paul S. Nassif, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 49 reviews


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The skin has an amazing ability to accommodate swelling, and then contract once again.  Significant edema (swelling) that could disrupt the final result does not last for months.  Subtle amounts could persist for a longer time, depending upon the type of facelift.  Minimizing salt intake and using Arnica Montana will minimize swelling in most people

Do not worry!

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The answer is NO.  Post operative swelling will not stretch the skin back out after a facelift.  Be sure to consult with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon to discuss your concerns and expectations. 

Robert E. Zaworski, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 61 reviews

Worried about swelling and saggy skin

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I would not be concerned that post-operative swelling would ruin the overall result of your facelift. The strength of a facelift is in the anchoring of the muscle underneath the skin. The skin has remarkable contractile properties and is rarely affected by immediate post-operative swelling. 

Todd C. Miller, MD
Newport Beach Facial Plastic Surgeon

Swelling After a Facelift

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Think about how a woman's abdomen looks when she is 9 months pregnant. Now think how it looks a year later. Skin has a remarkable ability to contract after being stretched pretty significantly. The amount of stretch that occurs from swelling after a facelift is nothing compared to this. And by the way, the long term results from a facelift are due to the repositioning of the tissue underneath the skin, and these are not stretching at all. So, no need to worry. Make an appointment with a board certified surgeon experienced in facelift surgery, ask a lot of questions, look at some before and after photos, and talk to some of their patients. When you feel comfortable- it will be time to proceed. Good luck.

Michael R. Menachof, MD
Greenwood Village Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Swelling after facelift is normal, and will resolve within weeks

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Depending on the type of facelift, post-op swelling can be very mild, or severe. For most modern SMAS based facelifts, the swelling peaks at 72 hours and then gradually subsides. The reconstructed face is not compromised by this swelling, and the tissues return to normal within a few weeks. Personally, I have seen patients with heavy and fatty necks retain swelling for months - but these are isolated cases.

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.