The recovery period is always sort of a complex issue to explain to patients because you want to give them a realistic understanding of what the process is going to be but at the same time when I say it really takes a year to get through the process, I don't want to scare patients away. But patients when I talk to them say, "It really took a year to be absolutely back to normal" but in terms of patients feeling good and being happy that they had the surgery and really pleased with the way things are going is usually more like three or four weeks.

The normal process is the first couple of days we just want you taking it easy. You're relaxing, you've had a big operation and your letting your body heal. Day five when the stitches come out, we want you to start trying to resume as much of your normal activity as possible, so exercising, putting on makeup, going out, as soon as you feel comfortable getting back to work. Usually by two weeks patients are back to work, they're putting on makeup, they're still swollen, most of the bruising is resolved before two weeks. Getting on to about four to six weeks is when patients look in the mirror and go, "Wow, I look good." There's still noticeable swelling at that point but really things are settling in. The incisions are really starting to fade at that point and patients feel very good about themselves. And then you go through this period from about a month to about a year where all sorts of little things are happening. The swelling goes up, the swelling comes down. One area looks bigger, one area looks smaller, and then skin sensations which are the things that patients complain about the most.

The nerves are growing back into the skin and so you get all sorts of funny sensations. You'll go from numbness to... it can be a burning sensation, it can feel like little bugs crawling across your skin, it can feel just a real sensitivity or electric shocks, and that takes a couple of months to completely resolve.

From a Few Days to A Year, Here Is the Facelift Recovery Process

Dr. Mark Glasgold describes the typical recovery from a facelift, starting a few days after surgery all the way up to a year post-op.