If nerve damage were to occur, would this be apparent straight after surgery?

If nerve damage were to occur - not numbeness but nerves that allow you to move muscles - would this be apparent straight away after surgery? Some patients on realself say the damage appears months after? So how do you know when your out of the woods so to speak

Doctor Answers 16

When is nerve damage apparent?

Motor (movement) nerve injury would be apparent immediately after surgery, not delayed in onset. However, most weakness seen after surgery will resolve as it is typically a result of numbing medicine or stretching of a nerve rather than cutting of a nerve. Your doctor should be able to give you an idea of how likely each would have been based on the difficulty of your procedure, once performed. Permanent motor (movement) deficits are very uncommon fortunately. It can take up to a year to see the final improvement of nerve function. 

Cincinnati Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

You Would Know Immediately After Surgery

Kudos to you for wanting to fully understand the risks and potential complications of facelift surgery. If a nerve is damaged during surgery, the results will be immediately apparent. As you've noted, numbness and even partial paralysis are not uncommon after facelift surgery, and they are almost always temporary. Some patients also report nerve-related symptoms later on during the healing process. This is normal and not indicative of damage. I hope my answer helped you better understand this issue.

Thomas McNemar, MD, FACS
Stockton Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Facial Nerve Damage after a Facelift

If you had nerves to the facial nerve(Which moves your face) you would know right away, unless swelling occured then you could get a temporary weakness. 

Nerves that are responsible for touch and sensation can also be damaged and you will typically know right after surgery. 

If you can move after surgery, you are safe!

Dr Bonaparte

James Bonaparte, MD, MSc, FRCSC
Ottawa Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Facelift and the Appearance of Possible Nerve Damage

Thank you for your question about facelift and possible nerve damage.

Any significant motor nerve damage would be apparent immediately after surgery.

To be sure, see two or more experienced, board-certified Plastic Surgeons in your area for a complete evaluation to make sure you are a good candidate and that it is safe for you to have surgery.

I hope this helps.

J. Jason Wendel, MD, FACS
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 183 reviews


Thank you for your question. Nerve damage has the potential occur any time skin is cut. Nerves may be stretched during plastic surgery procedures, but the problems come into play when major nerves are damaged. Nerve injury is a risk with all surgery and can be permanent. This could lead to permanent or temporary muscular weakness depending upon the type of nerve injured. Always consult with a board certified facial plastic surgeon.

Best wishes,

Ross A. Clevens, MD
Melbourne Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 120 reviews

Nerve damage post facelift

Motor nerve damage is apparent immediately if it occurs.  It can in certain situations recover if the nerve was not transacted.   Permanent nerve damage is a very rare risk of  facelift surgery. Temporary week ease can recover over days to months after surgery.

Philip Solomon, MD, FRCS
Toronto Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 96 reviews

Careful observation needed to see if there's nerve damage after a face lift

Hi -- thanks for your question.

Your concern is understandable considering that nerve damage is the second most common major complication after a facelift. The most common side effects of nerve damage from a facelift are numbness of the face, difficulty in making certain facial expressions, numbness of the ear, drooping of facial features, either the mouth or cheek. The good news is that most temporary nerve damage that occurs from a facelift will be resolved within 6 months to a year.

Typically, nerve damage to the buccal branch in the area of a midface lift is forgiving, and most patients have a complete recovery. Nerve damage manifests at different times after surgery, anywhere from right after the procedure to after a year. To lessen the chances of nerve damage, do your research and go to a reputable and board certified surgeon.

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

Facial nerve damage

Lack of movement will be seen initially, but that can initially represent contusion. swelling, anesthetic affect.  Long term lack of movement suggests a nerve injury.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Nerve damage and surgery

The nerve damage is immediate when you are undergoing surgery.  If a nerve is cut or bruised, You will have difficulty moving the muscle that is supplied by that nerve.


Dr. J

Tanveer Janjua, MD
Bedminster Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 104 reviews

Nerve damage after Facelift

Hello.  Thank you for your question.  The facial nerve, which controls the movements of the face, is at risk for injury during facelift surgery, although the incidence is extremely low.  This type of nerve injury should be immediately evident after completing the procedure and should not occur in a delayed fashion.  If some facial weakness occurs in the early postoperative period that was not present immediately after the procedure, then it is probably due to some swelling around the nerve and will likely resolve completely as the swelling resolves.  However, I would just reiterate that this is extremely uncommon and unlikely to occur.  The best way to avoid this type of injury is to have your procedure performed by a board-certified Facial Plastic Surgeon or Plastic Surgeon who has extensive facelift experience.

Michael Boggess, MD
Nashville Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 42 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.