Healing after cosmetic face lift surgery

Face lift surgery is a common cosmetic plastic surgery used to improve facial features and changes due to aging.

I have written about the technical aspects of face lift surgery in the past, including differences between a full face lift and a mini face lift, and face lift surgery under general anesthesia or local anesthesia. Here are some posts:

Facelift with local anesthesia

Facelift surgery by non-plastic surgeons

When to have a facelift surgery

How long before I look good after a face lift?

This is a common question I get asked by cosmetic patients wanting to have a face lift. Obviously, the healing time after a face lift is an important factor in deciding when to have surgery.

The face is difficult to hide when compared to other body areas that can be covered by clothing.

Bruising and swelling of the face after a face lift can be covered by:

  • makeup
  • sunglasses
  • scarves
  • hairstyles

But the options are limited, and there is nothing better than time to help the plastic surgery patient recover.

Factors that affect healing after face lifts

There are a number of factors that directly affect healing after face lift surgery.

  • Genetic factors; thinness of facial skin and friability of facial blood vessels
  • Hematomas;  bleeding under the skin of the face after surgery due to medicines or opening of blood vessels after exertion such as a sneeze or cough
  • Swelling; common after all surgery but worse in some patients than others
  • Medicines; can cause reactions that adversely affect healing
  • Medical conditions; infection, heart or liver problems can affect healing

First week after face lift surgery:  you can be seen by family

The first few days after any surgery but specially face lift surgery, you will want to stay at home placing ice on your face and keeping your head elevated. You probably just want to be around close friends or your family. You may have significant bruising and swelling- sometimes enough to close your eyes!

Two weeks after  face lift surgery: you can see your friends

By two weeks after your face lift surgery you will look good enough to see your friends. You will still be swollen and maybe even a little bruised, but you are putting on makeup and are out and about.

Three weeks after facial plastic surgery: you can visit with acquaintances

At this time, a great deal of the swelling is gone, and most bruising should also have disappeared. You will still feel some of the normal postoperative feelings of swelling and a “woody feeling” on your face. The incisions should be healing well by now, and sutures may have been removed.

Five weeks after face lift surgery: you can see your enemies!

That’s right—those people who are not your friends, the ones who will eat their hearts out at seeing how good you look! At this time you can appear on TV or at public occasions (marriages, parties, etc.) without being considered “operated on.” Don’t let them come too close; the scars may need another few weeks before looking really good—and a year for the final result.

After a cosmetic face lift surgery, be prepared to take the right amount of time to recover. Also remember the rules above: 2-3 and 5 weeks for seeing different types of people!

Morad Tavallali, M.D., FACS