How long does it take to recover from a facelift?
The more extensive the procedure, the longer the recovery period will be. Your surgeon will let you know how long it will be before you can return to your normal level of activity and work. After your surgery, your surgeon will give you and your caregiver detailed instructions about your postoperative care, including information about:
- Drains, if they have been placed
- Typical symptoms you will experience
- Potential signs of complications
It is vital that you follow all the patient care instructions your surgeon provides, including instructions around bandages, drains, taking an antibiotic (if prescribed), and the level of activity that is safe. It is also important to know that the amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals.
What can I expect immediately after my facelift surgery?
- Your surgeon may place you in a compression garment or wrap immediately after surgery. Wear this exactly as directed. Remove it only as directed for cleansing incisions or showering.
- To minimize swelling, recline rather than lie down. This will be more comfortable and can reduce swelling. Always keep your head elevated. Do not bend forward or over.
- You will have a mild to moderate amount of pain and discomfort that you can manage with medications.
- The discomfort and pain should begin to decrease within forty-eight hours after surgery. If you have a significant increase in pain after this period, call your surgeon. Severe pain is rare; if you experience this, call your surgeon immediately.
- You may feel tightness in your neck after surgery. This sensation is most pronounced in the first one to two days after surgery while the bulky dressing is in place.
- Expect bruising and swelling. These symptoms will peak within the first thirty-six to forty-eight hours after surgery and will gradually subside over the next ten to fourteen days. To minimize swelling, sleep with your head elevated for a couple of weeks after the surgery.
- It is not unusual to have some slight drainage for the first forty-eight hours. A bulky cotton compression dressing with drains will cover your scalp and face for one to two days to help prevent blood collections under the skin.
What can I expect during the first two weeks of my facelift recovery?
- You may not drive for at least a week after surgery.
- During your first post-op visit, your surgeon will likely remove the bulky dressing and drains. You may need to wear a supportive elastic face garment. Follow your surgeon instructions for how to wear the face garment and for how long.
- Do not take any aspirin or any anti-inflammatory medicine for two weeks before and two weeks after your surgery unless you first discuss it with your surgeon.
- You should sleep with your head elevated forty degrees for two weeks; an additional pillow or two under your mattress may help.
- Apply cool (not cold) compresses to your eyes. Do not apply ice or anything frozen directly on the skin. Soak soft, white washcloths or gauze squares in ice water and wring out well. Apply directly to the eyes, but not to the cheeks or neck. Do not apply any pressure. Apply cool compresses for no longer than twenty-minute intervals. Do not apply heat.
- Stay up (sitting, standing, walking around) as much as possible to help decrease facial swelling.
- Avoid bending or lifting heavy things for one week. Besides aggravating swelling, this may raise your blood pressure and encourage bleeding.
- You may wash your hair gently twenty-four hours after your surgery. Do not use a heated hair dryer; use the cap type, or use the cool setting on the blow dryer.
- You may shower or bathe the day after surgery, but do not let the spray directly strike your face.
- If you have any excessive bleeding that persists after applying pressure for fifteen to twenty minutes, call your surgeon.
What can I expect two to six weeks into my recovery?
- Don’t go swimming, diving, water skiing, or participate in any strenuous athletic activity for at least one month after surgery. You should also refrain from bending or lifting.
- You can expect to experience some numbness around your ear lobes, face, and neck for several weeks after surgery.
- You may begin sleeping in a modified reclining position, but do not sleep lying flat or on your stomach. If you are a side sleeper, two pillows under your head and a soft pillow under your mid-back and shoulders may offer more comfort.
- Do not wear makeup until your surgeon says you can.
- During the first four to six weeks, your scars may appear red and be slightly firm and raised. With time, the redness fades, and the scar softens. It takes a minimum of one year for a scar to achieve its final appearance.
- Refrain from direct sun exposure. Wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. If you are outdoors, apply at least an SPF thirty at least thirty minutes before sun exposure. Your face will be highly susceptible to sunburn and the formation of irregular, darkened pigmentation.
What can I expect six months into my recovery?
- You may ease into your regular fitness routine after two months.
- Always wear protective eyewear, sunscreen, and a hat to protect from the sun.
- Your face should no longer have any discomfort, tightness, or tingling.
- Be prepared to wait at least six months for your facelift to completely heal inside and out.
- It is important to see your surgeon for your scheduled follow up appointments.