Recovery from facelift, fat transfer and CO2 laser procedure.

I had a facelift, fat transfer (cheeks, temples and a bit in lips) and CO2 laser 7 days ago. How long should the numbness around my ears, sides of face and under neck last? Will the 'hardness' of my cheeks eventually soften? When does the swelling cease? Does some of the fat transfer eventually become absorbed, so am less puffy & my smile will look more normal? When does the tightness around neck and face relax? Is anything extra I can do to facilitate effective healing? Thanks so much!

Doctor Answers 10

Recovery Time after Facelift, Fat Transfer and CO2 Laser

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Everything you describe is very normal one week following surgery, fat transfer and CO2 laser. You are likely quite swollen from this combination of treatments, which can  can diminish your smile and make your face feel puffy and firm. Things should certainly improve greatly in the next two weeks, with diminished swelling, tightness and the return of your smile.  The long term results with fat transfer are quite variable but in most case fat survival is less than 50%. Remember, it will take several months before you feel back to "normal and numbness can take 6-12 months, or longer, to resolve. The speed of healing benefits from a positive attitude, good nutrition and sleep. You can also ask your doctor when it is appropriate for you to consider massage and range of motion exercises. Best wishes.

Saint Louis Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 126 reviews

Recovery from facelift, fat transfer and CO2 laser procedure

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It is completely normal to have numbness after a facelift. Typically slight numbness can last about 3 months and in rare cases even up to a year. As feeling returns you may experience some tingling and even slight shooting pains which is a good sign that the nerves are beginning to regrow and sensation may be improving.

Jason S. Cooper, MD
Jupiter Plastic Surgeon


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The numbness may take as long as 6-8 weeks to go away.  The hardness you feel is tissue swelling from the procedure and can also take that amount of time to resolve.   This goes as well for the tightness around your neck relaxing.  Due to your laser treatment you should allow your skin to heal fully before doing any massage therapy.  Best wishes, Dr. T.

One week later....

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The symptoms and physical signs you are describing are perfectly normal and even expected one week out from facelift, fat grafting, and CO2 resurfacing.  Sensation will return over the next few weeks and almost never stays numb.  Much of the firmness you describe is swelling that will resolve over the next weeks to months.  Around 4 months after the procedure is a good time to reevaluate swelling and the amount of fat retention.

Facelift recovery

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The recovery from facelift alone is usually quick but the combination with fat grafting can delay the healing and recovery. Some of the swelling is not fat but just edema that will settle down in 3 weeks. The numbness around ears can take months to get better. As the swelling goes down smile will look more normal. The tightness takes about 3 months to get better. To facilitate healing use warm compresses and gentle massage. RegardsDr J

Tanveer Janjua, MD
Bedminster Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 126 reviews

Facelift recovery varies

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Everybody heals differently, but for the most part, numbness typically lasts for several months or even longer before it resolves. Swelling greatly improves over the first 2 weeks, but minor swelling can last for up to 3-4 months. Your laser resurfacing can take 1-2 weeks to heal and 6 months for the redness in the skin to completely resolve. Overall, most patients look pretty good at 2 weeks with a little makeup. I'd discuss your concerns with your surgeon.
Andrew Campbell, M.D. Facial Plastic Specialist Quintessa Aesthetic Centers

Andrew Campbell, MD
Milwaukee Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Face lift, laser and fat transfer recovery

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Thank you for asking about your face lift, laser and fat transfer surgery.
  • It sounds as though you need to see your surgeon to discuss all your concerns -
  • Part of the fee you pay for surgery is for post-operative care which is very important.
  • You have had a lot done and are probably very swollen -
  • In general, numbness and swelling can take 6 - 18 months to fully subsides.
  • About 50% of the fat injection is absorbed.
  • Neck tightness usually improves within 2 weeks.
  • Without a photo one can't say what is affecting your smile.
  • Hope all continues to go well!
Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Best wishes  - Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

Recovery after facelift

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Being that you are only a week out from surgery, you are very early in the healing phase and need several months to heal. Best of luck.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Multiple Facial Procedues

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Because you have had three procedures all at the same time your swelling will last for several weeks and 4 weeks to even 6 weeks is not unexpected. It will get a little better each day.You have a lot of questions and have had a complicated set of procedures, so call your doctors office and go thru your questions one by one to be sure you have the guidance that you need for a satisfactory recovery.

Deborah Ekstrom, MD
Worcester Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Questions following facelift

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You have many questions 1 week following your face lift.  These questions should be answered by your surgery team.  Swelling is variable but most patients look decent in about 2 weeks but the total swelling will last much longer.  The tight feeling is actually good because it implies that you had a good tightening procedure and it will loosen up as the swelling abates.  Numbness is almost universal and will improve although some may be permanent and any improvement may take months.  The stinging, itching and shooting pains that are very common are evidence that the nerves are healing.  Massage and rarely injections may help these.  Please be patient and you will probably be very pleased at the final result.

Richard O. Gregory, MD
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 13 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.