Facelift Recovery Process

December 13, 2021

A surgical facelift is a fantastic way to create a more youthful appearance. The results are long-lasting and nearly undetectable. Perhaps that explains why more people choose to get this surgery each year. In contrast to temporary procedures, a facelift does have a recovery period associated with it and the results may not be immediate. However, the procedure and recovery are generally well tolerated, the results are long-lasting, and can be more significant than those of injectables. Here’s what you might expect while recovering from a facelift procedure.


What to Expect in the First Week

The first week of recovery is the most crucial. It’s important to listen to what your doctor tells you. Make sure to keep all areas clean to avoid infection and handle all incision care as you were instructed.

The first day after the surgery many people are tired and feel a bit unsteady. Having the support of loved ones is important. During the first 24 hours, many patients will need to take medication to prevent pain and discomfort.

A follow-up with the surgeon occurs a few days after surgery. This will involve an evaluation of any swelling and removing or changing the dressings. In most cases, you’ll discuss the care procedures again and be sent back home.

Over the first few days, rest is important but you may feel better getting out of bed. Swelling and bruising are often heaviest at this time but will remain present for several weeks.

After about 5 days, swelling will start to go down and moving around will become more comfortable. Some people will feel confident enough to start doing light housework.

Moving into Week Two

There may still be swelling and bruising in the face during week two. Sometimes this can cause tingling, numbness, or tightness. These are all normal and shouldn’t cause any concern. By the end of the second week, most people feel as well as they normally do and can go back to work and start doing light activities again.

Weeks Three and Four

The sutures from the facelift will typically come out after a week, based on how well you are progressing and healing. Some people will still have swelling and skin tightness, but you will likely feel better at this point. This is also the time when you can see the facial contour improvements from the surgery. You will be able to start enjoying activities and exercising again without showing many signs of the facelift. The incisions are likely to be pinkish-red but will fade over time.

After the First Month

Once the facelift is a month behind you, normal life can resume and you get to show off the new look. Some people have mild swelling, numbness, or tightness for months following, but these things are not noticeable to others. However, keep in mind that each person is different so your experience may be unique. This is why it’s essential to listen to your facial plastic surgeon and follow their guidelines throughout the healing process.

Learn more about facelift surgery at UCSF.

AnchorSee photos of before and after facelift surgery done at UCSF.

Read other Facial Plastics blogs.