The facelift procedure is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures, but it is major surgery. Following surgery, understanding what you should be doing is important for the overall success of your facelift and a healthy recovery. Your surgeon will likely explain the stages of recovery you can expect to help you manage expectations and heal as quickly as possible.
Ahead of your surgery, this timeline will give you an overview of the recovery process.
During the first seven days after your surgery, you may experience nausea and fatigue, which is usually caused by the pain medication you take rather than the procedure itself. Swelling and bruising should reach its peak by the fourth day after the operation, but you’ll probably feel well enough to get up and move within the first day or two.
Take the pain medication you are prescribed on schedule to manage any pain you may experience. This should help control the soreness in your face and neck well enough that you can do simple activities such as light housework. It’s important to get moving as soon as possible after the procedure to speed up your facelift recovery and get your circulation going. This can decrease the odds that you will have complications.
You should also follow the incision-care routine your surgeon provides to speed your recovery. While the sutures may be itchy, taking care of them properly will alleviate this somewhat. Be aware that it is normal to see more swelling or bruising on just one side of your face.
During this stage of the recovery, watch for a high fever or a large bulge on either side of your neck or face. If you notice either one, contact your surgeon right away.
You may see bruising or swelling on your face or neck, near your eyes or behind your ears into the second week. Some patients also experience odd sensations like numbness, tightness or tingling, which is also normal. At this stage, any staples used to hold together incisions in your hair will be removed. You should still avoid strenuous activity, but you don’t need to go too easy. You should still do light activities to keep up your circulation and health.
Your incisions should be noticeably improved at this point. Most patients are ready to return to work at this point, but you may still have light swelling in some areas. You should feel well enough to get back into exercise and work.
One Month and Beyond
While facelift recovery is generally about two weeks, it may take up to a full year for residual swelling, bruises and changes in sensation to resolve. By three weeks, it should be very hard for anyone else to notice that you have had any work done.
Always discuss the recovery process with your surgeon during our consultation. You should have a good understanding of any potential complications to watch for, and know how to reach your surgeon in case of emergency.