Best Facelift Recovery Tips and Post-op Day-by-Day Facelift Recovery Timeline
A facelift can get rid of some wrinkles, folds, and facial drooping to help make your face younger again. However, a lot of patients, worry about the recovery after facelift surgery. How long will it last? Is it going to be painful? How do you sleep after facelift surgery?
Recovering from a facelift can be challenging, however, the results are well worth it. Day after day, swelling and bruising will improve, and after a few weeks, you’ll be able to show off the results.
That being said, before you undergo the surgery, you might want to learn more about the recovery period. In this article, you’ll find a day-by-day facelift recovery timeline so that you know what to expect. Furthermore, we have also given you valuable advice from our surgeons, tips, tricks, as well as some home remedies to help speed up facelift recovery.
What happens after Facelift Surgery?
A facelift is a very popular cosmetic surgery for both men and women who want to look younger again. It aims to rejuvenate the face and neck and reverse the signs of ageing.
As you age, your skin loses elasticity. Your skin becomes more lax, saggy, and droopy. You might start noticing more:
- Skin folds
- Saggy or heavy jowls
- Droopy cheeks
- A faded jawline
- A double chin
During your facelift, your surgeon will make an incision either around your ear or along the edge of your face. They will use this incision to pull your deep facial tissue back up into place. Then they will fix the deep tissue with sutures, and trim off any excess skin.
A facelift can contour your jawline, remove a double chin, and outline your neck. It can also soften or minimize those wrinkles and folds that make you look older.
The Specialist Plastic Surgeons here at Coco Ruby offer several different types of face and neck lifts, depending on what you want and need, including;
- Traditional SMAS facelift
- Mini facelift
- Deep plane facelift
- Mid facelift (cheek lift)
- Neck Lift / Lower Face Lift
- Liquid facelift with Injectables
Facelift Recovery Timeline
Recovery after a facelift usually takes a few weeks. During this time, you’ll need to rest and take care of your wounds. You should expect some bruising and pain, as well as face and neck swelling during the first few days after your facelift.
Day by day and week by week, these symptoms will fade away. You’ll be able to go back to work, do sports, and sleep on your side in a relatively short time. We’ve put together an informative facelift recovery timeline to guide you on what you should expect during the recovery period.
Immediately After Surgery
Our surgeons perform Facelift surgery under general anesthesia. This means that you’re unconscious during the procedure. Once your plastic surgeon finishes the surgery, the anesthetist will wake you up. Then, you will be transferred to the recovery room, which is usually adjacent to the operation room. From there, the staff will monitor you briefly before transferring you to your room.
You should expect to feel fatigue and drowsiness immediately after your facelift. As the anaesthetic wears off, you will become more alert, however, you may also start experiencing some pain. Fortunately, your plastic surgeon will have a pain management plan in place, and your nurses will administer painkillers as necessary. Although a facelift can hurt right after surgery, it’s nothing that can’t be managed with routine painkillers.
You will most likely spend the night at the hospital for monitoring. A bandage will be wrapped around your head, behind your ears, and under your chin, which can make sleeping uncomfortable. Sometimes, surgeons leave thin drains in your wounds to prevent fluid build-up. However, these are usually removed the following day along with the bandages.
You will be able to go home on the second day after your facelift. Prior to your surgery, you would have been told to organise for someone to assist you after surgery. They will drive you home and provide you with the care you need during the first few days of your recovery.
You may also be asked to wear a chin strap (band) for the first two weeks after your facelift to help improve the outcome.
Bruising and swelling reach their peak 3 days post-surgery. You might notice that one side is more affected or swollen than the other, don’t worry, that’s completely normal.
You may also notice some blood spotting from your facelift wounds, this is also normal and isn’t something you need to worry or stress about. That being said, if there’s excessive bleeding that doesn’t stop, you should contact your surgeon immediately.
By day 3 post-surgery, you can shower without worrying about getting water on your wounds. What’s important is to not rub your face and neck area, and use wound-friendly soap. When finished, make sure to properly dry your face and wounds by patting them gently with a towel. DO NOT rub.
During this period of facelift recovery, you should do your best to rest and stay at home. You will need to avoid any sports, including any moderate physical activity. You will be expected to sleep in a recliner or with the head of your bed elevated (see tips below).
The swelling and bruising around your facelift wounds will begin to improve after the first week. You will come to the clinic for suture removal during this time and your surgeon will give you further instructions and tips to recover faster from your facelift.
By the end of week one, the swelling and bruising will have significantly improved and will continue to do so as time pass. You can get back to work during this time, with only minimal visible signs of surgery.
Furthermore, you can gradually start performing low-risk exercises like walking. However, contact sports, jogging, weight lifting, and sports that involve neck movement are forbidden during this stage of facelift recovery.
By the end of the second week, you won’t need any pain medications at all. However, you will still need to sleep on your back and avoid any strenuous exercise.
Read more about Exercising After Facelift Surgery – Tips and Timeline here.
Your face will regain its normal shape and you will start noticing dramatic improvement. As the swelling subsides, the final results of your facelift will become more apparent.
You will notice that there’s no more excess skin, the wrinkles have reduced, no more double chin, and you’ll have tighter cheeks. By the end of this stage, the signs of surgery will be almost all gone. Minimal swelling, no bruising, and no pain should remain by this point.
After 1 month
One month after your facelift surgery, you can resume most physical activity. You can jog, swim, and ride your bicycle. If you are normally a side sleeper, you’ll be happy to know that you can start sleeping on your side again around this point. No need to use a recliner or keep your head elevated while you sleep.
We always suggest that you avoid tanning and that you use proper face protection (SPF 30+). Excessive sunlight can affect scar development and can lead to excessive pigmentation. Your facelift scar will mature over the next few months and will become nearly invisible afterwards IF you follow your post-surgery care instructions.
Facelift Recovery Tips – Do and Don’t
There are some helpful tips that you can follow to speed up recovery after your facelift. A few lifestyle adjustments, home remedies, and expert advice can make facelift recovery easier and faster.
Below is a list of our facelift recovery do’s and don’ts;
Facelift Recovery Tip #1 – Use cold compresses
- To reduce swelling after your facelift, you can use cold compresses on your wound.
- Make sure you use a clean towel or sterile gauze for this purpose.
- This will help the swelling go down faster after your surgery.
Facelift Recovery Tip #2 – Don’t sleep face down
- Sleeping face down early after your surgery can disrupt the wound and possibly ruin your facelift.
- It’s recommended that you avoid sleeping face down for at least 1 month.
Facelift Recovery Tip #3 – Sleep in a recliner
- Sleeping in a recliner after your facelift can help reduce swelling and prevent seroma formation.
- If you don’t have a recliner, you can put multiple pillows under or above your bed mattress to keep your head elevated.
- An elevation of at least 30 degrees is recommended.
Facelift Recovery Tip #4 – Don’t go tanning
- You should avoid tanning during the first 2-3 months after your facelift.
- Excessive sunlight can make your scars darker and will interfere with the normal healing process.
Facelift Recovery Tip #5 – Don’t bend down OR lift weights
- Bending down and lifting weights will cause unwanted strain on your facelift wounds.
- It might even result in the wound breaking open.
- It could also provoke arterial bleeding.
Facelift Recovery Tip #6 – Follow your surgeon’s instructions
- Your plastic surgeon will give you detailed instructions for every step of your facelift recovery.
- You will receive a prescription for painkillers, as well as, medications such as;
- Arnica, which decreases bruising and swelling
- Arnigade which helps your wounds heal faster.
- These supplements contain a variety of active ingredients and vitamins (like vitamins E and C) which promote skin regeneration and healing.
Facelift Recovery Tip #7 – Don’t smoke before or after surgery
- Smoking can absolutely ruin your facelift.
- Cigarettes and nicotine are the enemies when it comes to recovering from plastic and cosmetic surgery.
- Smoking or Vaping can;
- Delay healing
- Increase the risk of infections
- And ruin your aesthetic results.
- Consider your facelift a chance to stop smoking altogether if you can. If not, then the recommendation is that you stop at least 4-6 weeks both before and after your facelift.
- The longer the better.
Facelift Recovery Tip #8 – Eat and drink well
- Hydration is essential for a normal healing process after your facelift (or any surgery).
- Water is the most important component in all metabolic processes, including those which promote wound healing and skin regeneration.
- You should also stay nourished and follow a healthy diet after your facelift.
- A balanced diet that’s full of nutrients can boost your immunity and support your body’s healing abilities.
Facelift Recovery FAQs – Questions about recovering after a Facelift
Can I sleep on my side after a facelift?
- It’s recommended that you DONT sleep on your side after your facelift.
- You should sleep on your back for at least one month to avoid any trauma to your facelift wounds.
How bad does a facelift hurt?
- Like any surgery, a facelift can cause some degree of pain.
- Facelift pain is usually manageable with routine painkillers and does not last more than a few days.
How do you wash your hair after a facelift?
- You can wash your hair and shower normally 2 days after you facelift.
- Make sure to dry your wounds well in a patting motion instead of rubbing the towel on them.
- Showering and/or washing your face after a lift is safe after the second day.
How long do facelift scars take to heal?
- Facelift scars usually take a few months to fade away.
- Keep in mind that this might be longer or shorter depending on your skin quality and how well you take care of your facelift wounds.
- Excessive sun exposure after your facelift, for example, can cause hyperpigmentation.
- In general, facelift scars are well hidden along your natural facial lines. After some time passes you won’t be able to notice them.
Can you talk after a facelift?
- Yes, you can talk normally after your facelift.
- The surgery does not affect your speech ability and does not interfere with the strength of your facial muscles.
How long does it take for a facelift to settle?
- You should notice dramatic results 2-3 weeks after your facelift. By this time, the bruising and swelling will have dramatically subsided.
- You should expect more improvement in the coming months, as the remaining swelling disappears.
How long should you wear a chin strap after a facelift?
- You can expect to wear your chin band for 2 weeks after your facelift, even when sleeping. However, you can remove it when showering or eating.
Medical Resources and Further Reading:
- ASPS Facelift Surgery Rhytidectomy – What should I expect during my facelift recovery?
- ASPS Blog on Your facelift recovery explained from Day 1 to Day 30 by Robert Improta, MD
- Mayo Clinic Tests and Procedures on Face-lift
- NSH Cosmetic Procedures – Facelift (rhytidectomy)
- Facelift, Mini Facelift and Neck Lift in University of Utah Plastic Surgery