Facelift Recovery - Week-by-Week Guide 2023
Designed to address signs of aging along the face and neck, facelifts are one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures available. The surgery is also known as a rhytidectomy and reduces the appearance of wrinkles and sagging skin to create a more youthful appearance. If you have an upcoming facelift procedure, you're likely wondering what to expect during the recovery period.
Knowing what to expect during your recovery will help you prepare for the procedure. Here's our week-by-week facelift recovery guide for anyone considering a facelift.
How long will the facelift recovery take?
The initial recovery period for a facelift lasts anywhere from four to six weeks. The exact recovery timeline will vary between patients based on your general health and the specifics of your surgery.
After your initial recovery period, it will take several more months for the final results of your facelift to appear as your face settles. Most patients will see the final results after six months.
Is there a difference in recovery between mini and deep-plane facelifts?
As the name implies, a mini facelift is a smaller, less invasive version of a full facelift. A traditional facelift addresses sagging and other signs of aging in the entire face and neck, while a mini facelift only focuses on the area between your cheeks and jawline.
When compared with other types of facelifts, mini facelifts have a much shorter recovery. The initial recovery process lasts just two to four weeks, and most patients are able to resume their normal routine after just a few days. This makes the mini facelift a very appealing procedure for those who qualify for it.
Alternatively, a deep plane facelift is a much more invasive procedure that repositions the layer of muscles underneath the skin in addition to more superficial changes. The results of a deep plane facelift are much more dramatic and visible than a traditional facelift, but the recovery time is also much longer. The initial recovery process takes four to six weeks.
Before your procedure, you will have at least one appointment with your plastic surgeon. During your initial consultation, your surgeon will discuss your current health status as well as your goals for the procedure to determine how to proceed. They'll also provide you with more detailed information about the procedure to help you get ready.
You may need to have tests done prior to the surgery to confirm that you are in good health and that you are a good candidate for the procedure. There are certain health conditions and lifestyle choices (such as smoking) that may preclude you from getting a facelift.
It's also important to note that your skin needs a certain level of flexibility in order for a facelift to be successful. Your surgeon will look for this level of flexibility during your pre-op appointment.
How to Prepare Before Your Facelift
It's important to ask plenty of questions during your initial surgery consultation to help you prepare. Your surgical team will be happy to help with any issues you encounter.
Before your surgery, stock up on supplies like pillows, bandages, and cold compresses, and make sure to pick up any pain medication prescribed by your doctor. You'll need someone to drive you home and help you recover during the first few days, so be sure to reach out to family members or friends ahead of time for help.
Additionally, you'll need to schedule time away from work or school. Most patients require at least one week to return to work, and patients with more strenuous jobs may need even more time away.
Maintaining a healthy routine in the weeks leading up to your surgery will help you recover more quickly. Eat a balanced diet and avoid smoking or drinking. You'll also want to get plenty of sleep and try to reduce your stress levels as much as possible.
Day of Facelift Surgery
Since you'll be under general anesthesia for your surgery, you'll need to avoid eating or drinking in the hours leading up to the procedure. Your anesthesiologist will let you know when to start fasting prior to your surgery appointment.
The surgery will last anywhere from two to five hours, so be sure to wear comfortable clothing. You'll also need a friend or family member with you to take you home.
You will feel very groggy after the surgery due to the anesthesia. You'll also need help with basic tasks like eating and bathing during the first night after surgery.
What to Consider After The Surgery
It's important to err on the side of caution when it comes to your post-surgery routine. Getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated, and eating healthy will all help you bounce back faster.
Follow your surgeon's care instructions closely and avoid exercising or engaging in any strenuous activities until you are cleared to do so. Keep in mind that even after the initial healing period, you might still continue to notice subtle changes to your face for several months after the procedure. You'll see the permanent results of your surgery after about six months.
Recovery Timeline - Days and Weeks Post-Op
Pain and discomfort levels will be at their highest during the first day after surgery. Take your pain medication as prescribed by your surgeon to manage this. After the first few days, you may be able to switch from a prescription pain medication to aspirin or another over-the-counter pain medication.
Bruising and swelling will also be most prominent on the first day after surgery. You may also experience a small amount of drainage from your incisions. However, excessive bleeding is not normal and is a sign that you will need medical attention.
Try to rest as much as possible during this first day. Stay home from work or school and continue to avoid exercise for about a week. Your surgeon should check in on you or schedule a follow-up appointment at some point during this first week to ensure you are healing properly. They will also change your dressings during this appointment.
At night, use a surgical pillow to provide extra support for your head and keep your incisions elevated. Sleep on your back as advised by your doctor. You may also need to stick to soft foods that don't require much chewing during the first few days, depending on where your incisions are.
After about seven days, your swelling and bruising will have improved significantly, although they will still be visible. You may also feel tightness or a tingling sensation at this point. This is normal and will subside as you continue to heal.
At this point, you will be able to start going for gentle walks and resume some aspects of your normal routine, but should still avoid strenuous exercise. Some patients may be able to return to work during this time, but those with more strenuous jobs should wait until the end of the second week of recovery.
Continue to keep your head elevated and follow your surgeon's instructions regarding wound care during this time.
At this point, you'll start to feel more like yourself and have more energy. Your incision sites will continue to heal and become less noticeable. If you haven't already returned to work or school, you will likely feel comfortable doing so at this point.
You may be able to start wearing makeup and other cosmetics at this point to make your incisions less noticeable, but be sure to check with your surgeon first.
If you had sutures, they will be removed at this point, making your incisions much less noticeable. Swelling will be dramatically reduced, so you'll start to see the preliminary results of your facelift.
At this point, you should be able to resume your exercise routine, although you should check in with your surgeon before doing so. Be sure to wear sunscreen when spending time outdoors, as your skin will still be very sensitive.
At this point, you will be able to resume your normal routine and your scars will not be outwardly noticeable. You may still notice some tightness in your face, but the effect will be minimal. Continue to follow your surgeon's instructions and go in for follow-up appointments as needed.
At this point, you'll see the final results of your facelift. Swelling and bruising will have completely subsided, and the new contours of your face will be fully visible.
Common Issues and Symptoms After Facelift
Here are some of the most common recovery symptoms you'll experience after a facelift. While many of these are normal, it's still important to check in regularly with your surgeon and seek further medical attention if you experience extreme pain, excess bleeding, or signs of infection.
Facelift patients will experience a significant amount of swelling after surgery. Swelling will peak around day 3 and start to subside after that. Keeping your head elevated, taking pain medication as prescribed, and using gentle cold compresses for short periods of time can all help with swelling.
For the first day or two, you will experience some mild drainage from your incisions. While a small amount of drainage is normal, excess drainage or bleeding could be a sign of further issues, so be sure to contact your doctor if this happens.
Bruising is also very normal after a facelift. You will have visible bruises for the first three weeks or so after surgery. After about two weeks, the bruises will become relatively easy to cover with makeup.
What Can You Not Do After a Facelift?
It's very important to avoid exercise after your facelift, as too much movement will put a dangerous amount of pressure on your wounds. Additionally, you should avoid sleeping on your side or stomach and try to keep your head elevated as much as possible. You'll also need to avoid showering for the first two days after surgery, as you'll need to keep your incisions dry.
Tips For A Successful Facelift Recovery
To ensure that your facelift recovery is as successful as possible, follow your surgeon's instructions closely. Always err on the side of caution when it comes to returning to your normal routine or trying new activities to avoid unnecessary strains on your body.
Try to maintain healthy habits as you recover. Stick to a nutritious diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals, and drink plenty of water to help your body heal faster. Additionally, avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, or any other substances that could interfere with your recovery.
What is the worst day for facelift recovery?
Pain, swelling, and bruising will be most intense during the first three days after your facelift. After this point, you'll start to see results and feel more comfortable.
How painful is facelift recovery?
You'll likely experience moderate pain in the first few days after surgery, but this pain is manageable with medication. Facelifts are often considered less painful than many other forms of surgery.
What to buy for facelift surgery recovery?
Before your procedure, be sure to stock up on comfortable pillows to keep your head elevated, as well as comfortable zip-up or button-down shirts that are easy to put on. You should also make sure to have some soft food on hand that's easy to eat, as well as extra bandages and cold compresses for swelling. Finally, make sure to have both prescription and over-the-counter pain medication on hand.
What are common situations where I should call my doctor?
If you experience a fever, excess bleeding, vomiting, extreme pain, or any other signs of an emergency, call your doctor and seek medical attention right away.