Facelift Series: Recovery

If you’re considering getting a facelift, you probably already know that this procedure often produces stunning results. Because facelifts reposition the superficial musculoaponeurotic system (SMAS) of the face, they can create a profound alteration in your appearance—one that is capable of making you look literally years younger. Alas, there is a downside to perfection: It takes time! Though facelift recovery is not typically very painful, resting and healing are absolutely necessary, so you should know what to expect ahead of time. The three major stages of facelift recovery are explained below:

1. The first week.

Plan to have someone around to look after you during the first 24 hours post-surgery. Likewise, be sure to take this week off work and cancel any commitments you may have. Your surgeon will prescribe pain medication so that you don’t experience much post-op pain, but this medication tends to make people dizzy and tired, so you’ll need to take it easy.

You’ll probably start to feel better 3-4 days after the surgery, but don’t be surprised if your face looks very swollen and bruised still—it’s just the body’s natural inflammatory response kicking in to speed up healing. At this point, you can probably get up, walk around, and do very light housework, but make sure to clear this with your surgeon first.

If at any time during this week you develop a fever, call your doctor immediately. You will probably have been given antibiotics to protect against infection, but it’s still a remote possibility after any kind of invasive surgery.

2. The second week.

As healing progresses, you may experience itching and tingling, burning, or numb sensations. It’s important to not scratch or poke at your face even if these feelings can be uncomfortable—let it heal.

Likewise, you should understand that your face will still be swollen at this point. Don’t worry if you don’t quite look the way you want to yet—your face just needs time to “settle”. You may, however, want to take an additional week off work if you’re feeling self-conscious.

3. Weeks three and four.

By the third week, your incisions will probably become less visible and facial swelling will start to subside. At this point, you can return to work and may be able to begin more rigorous activities (like exercise). Once again, however, you should clear this with your surgeon first.

While the three stages above cover the most intense period of healing, you should wait for about one year for your scars to completely fade and for your face to fully settle. During the first year, you may experience mild sensations of tightness or numbness, but don’t be alarmed if you do—they’ll go away after approximately one year. Remember that as long as you follow the recovery guidelines provided by your surgeon, you should end up with beautiful results that last five or more years, making the recovery time more than worth the wait! Contact Dr. Ben Lee now, to learn more about the facelift and its recovery.