Facelift or Rhytidectomy is a cosmetic surgical procedure that can tighten the appearance of your face to give you a more youthful look. Changes that occur in your face as you age, like the sagging of the skin on the cheeks and jawline and other changes in the shape, can be corrected through this procedure. If you are considering facelift surgery, you may also consider facelift recovery to plan for your procedure.
During a Face Lift, a fold of skin from each side of the face is pulled back, while surgically altering the tissues below the skin. Before closing the flap with the help of sutures, excess skin is removed as well. This helps to contour the face and can give you a more youthful shape. However, you should understand that undergoing a face-lift procedure won’t completely get rid of all the wrinkles or any damages caused due to sun exposure. As well as that, it’s important to note that the result of a facelift is not permanent.
A Facelift can be performed with other procedures like facial fat transfer, brow lift, rhinoplasty, or a neck lift to get your desired result. Dr Doyle always recommends that a neck lift is done at the same time as a facelift to deliver a more cohesive and natural result.
Recovery Timeline after Facelift Surgery
As each person is different, their rate of healing is different; people may have their own unique experiences during the recovery period. Following the post-operative care instructions carefully will make your recoveries easier and result in the best outcome.
Commonly, facelift recovery will take about a month and a detailed description of the timeline is mentioned below:
Week One Facelift Recovery
During this first week, special care should be taken to keep the incision site clean to prevent any infection and follow post-operative care instructions as provided by Dr Mark Doyle. You should avoid bathing for the first week. To wash your face, wipes or cleansing pads are fine but try to avoid wetting the incision line.
You’ll have mild bruising and swelling post-operatively and you’ll also feel dizzy and sleepy from the general anaesthesia. So, you should arrange for someone to drive you home and take care of you for the first 24 hours after surgery.
You’ll also have bandages around your head to apply pressure to the face and suture lines which will help minimise any swelling that may occur. Pain medication will be given to you to overcome any discomfort.
Your head bandages will be removed. You will be able to wash your hair and an antibiotic ointment will be applied to the suture lines twice a day. You need to wear the neck support garment provided as much as possible for the first five days.
You should be able to move a bit and also should start feeling a bit better but you should consider resting as the swelling and bruising will be highest during the third and the fourth day. Swelling and bruising will last for a further few weeks. You can continue using pain medications during this time.
Most people will no longer need pain medications during this period, and the swelling will start subsiding. You should be able to move your body comfortably. You may remove the neck support garment if you are going out in public but please try and wear the garment as much as possible when you are home.
Week Two Facelift Recovery
You’ll most likely have some swelling and bruising around the incision sites. Due to swelling and bruising, you’ll most likely have some common side effects of the surgery like numbness, tingling sensation, and tightening of the face. You should be able to start walking and in some cases, some people can resume their work.
Week Three and Four Facelift Recovery
A small amount of swelling will be present, and you will be feeling and looking much better than the initial two weeks. You should be able to start seeing the improvement in your face contour during this period. You will also be able to start less strenuous exercises. The incision sites will become pinkish-red in colour which will eventually fade.
One month post Facelift surgery
You should be able to resume everyday activities after a month. Minor swelling, tightness, bruising, and numbness will persist until a year, which is not noticeable to other people.
Tips for Faster Recovery After Facelift
1. Arrange for someone to support you after your surgery
Right after surgery, you’ll be a bit dizzy and feel sleepy as well. So, it would be best to have arranged for someone to drive you home after the surgery. You also should have someone to take care of you for the first 24-48 hours after surgery, as during this period you may need assistance.
2. Prepare your recovery area and food prior to the procedure
You should prepare a recovery room prior to your operation. As it is recommended to sleep on your back while keeping your head in an elevated position, you should consider having a recliner or at least two pillows to keep your head in an elevated position.
You should store and prepare meals that can be easily prepared at least for the first week, giving you time to rest.
3. Switch to a healthy diet before and after the surgery
Your body requires a lot of energy for the recovery process. You should make sure that you supply your body with plenty of energy from various nutritious and healthy foods. You should also drink plenty of water during this period. Doing so will further aid in your recovery process. So it is recommended that you should consider switching to a healthy diet before surgery and stick with it through your recovery period.
4. Understand the potential side effects before the procedure
There are always risks associated when undergoing any surgical procedure. Though a facelift is a relatively safe surgery, it has its associated potential risks. You should understand all the likely risks and complications before the surgery to take the necessary measures for prevention. Apart from the general risks carried by any surgery, specific potential risks associated with a facelift include:
- Hair loss
- Clotting of blood in the tissue
- Prolonged swelling and bruising
- Uneven skin surface after fat removal
You should be in constant touch with Dr Doyle post-surgery and update him if you have any concerns about your condition.
5. Stop smoking before and after surgery
Smoking causes blood vessels to constrict and damages vital blood vessels necessary for recovery. It also increases your risk for other complications. It is recommended that you stop smoking at least 6-8 weeks prior to your surgery and 6-8 weeks post-surgery.
6. Take time off work and stay away from strenuous activities
You should consider taking at least two weeks off from your work and get adequate rest during these initial two weeks. Participating in strenuous activities in these two weeks will result in an increase in blood pressure on your face resulting in an increased risk of bleeding and bruising.
You should wait at least two weeks before returning to everyday activities and up to four to six weeks before returning to strenuous activities.
7. Reduce excess movement and maintaining an elevated posture
Avoiding excess movement and remaining still after the surgery helps prevent putting excess strain on the incision site, which drastically improves how your post-operative scar looks. Staying upright at about a 30-degree angle after the surgery helps fluid drainage from the face thus limiting downtime associated with the surgery.
8. Avoid the sun
Your skin along the incision site will be extremely sensitive after your Facelift surgery. In order to avoid the darkening of the scars and any potential sun damage, it is recommended that you use a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher and also wear a hat for several weeks following the procedure.
9. Use an ice pack instead of a heat pack
You may experience some numbness in your face after the Facelift surgery making it difficult to determine the temperature. Generally, it is recommended that you use an ice pack instead of a heat pack as people can burn themselves as their skin won’t be able to determine the temperature of the heat pad. You should use the ice pack for fifteen minutes per session multiple times a day for the first week.
10. Communicate with Dr Doyle and adhere to all the post-operation care instructions
Your postoperative care instructions are crucial for your recovery. You should wear the compression bandage and chin strap for a minimum of two weeks after the facelift. You should strictly follow these instructions and communicate with Dr Doyle if you have any questions.
11. Have patience
Have patience with the recovery process and trust and follow the post-operative care instructions provided by Dr. Mark Doyle. You’ll be able to see some portion of the outcome during the third to fourth-week post-surgery. Some swelling, discomfort and numbness may last over a year but will gradually subside with time. You should be able to see the outcome of the surgery in six months or after a year.
Best Tips for Facelift Recovery
- Have someone to support you before and after surgery
- Get plenty of rest
- Sleep on your back while keeping your head in an elevated position
- Switch to a healthy diet
- Stop smoking 6-8 weeks pre and post-surgery
- Wear your compression bandage and chin strap for a minimum of two weeks
- Communicate with Dr Doyle and strictly follow the post-operative care instruction
- Consider lymphatic massage to improve the healing process.
Facelift Recovery Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs About Recovery After Facelift Surgery
Can I sleep on my side after facelift surgery?
No, you should not sleep on your side after a facelift. It is recommended that you sleep on your back while keeping your head in an elevated position for the initial two weeks of your facelift recovery.
How bad does a facelift hurt?
You’ll feel minor pain in the face 2-3 days after a facelift, which can be controlled through prescribed pain medications. After the 4th day, the pain will greatly subside.
How long do facelift scars take to heal?
It usually takes six months for a facelift scar to heal completely, fading from a pinkish to a whitish colour. However, in some cases, it can take 1-2 years to completely fade. Learn more about scar management after cosmetic surgery, read our blog Scar Management After Plastic Surgery.
How long will my face stay swollen after a facelift?
You should expect your face to be swollen until the third day of your facelift recovery. Fourth day onwards you should expect the swelling to decrease gradually. However, some minor swelling can persist for up to a year.
How long does it take for a facelift to settle?
As the healing of each patient differs, the exact timeframe for a facelift to settle will also differ. Commonly, a facelift should settle in two to three weeks or in some cases a month after surgery.
How long does the pain last after a facelift?
You should expect mild discomfort till the third day after the surgery. It should decrease significantly from the fourth day. However, some discomfort may last up to a year.
How long should you wear a compression bandage after a facelift?
You should wear the compression bandage for a minimum of two weeks after the facelift.
How long should you wear a chin strap after a facelift?
You must wear the chin strap continuously for the first two weeks post-surgery. However, you may remove the chin strap while eating and brushing your teeth. The purpose of the strap is to work against gravity and decrease any swelling.
Will my face be numb after a facelift?
Your face can be numb for six months or in some cases up to a year after a facelift. You face can be numb for six months or in some case up to a year after a facelift.
What is the best age to have a facelift?
In most cases, the best age for people to have a facelift is in their 40s, 50s, and 60s when signs of aging begin to become prominent.
When can I sleep on my side after a facelift?
You shouldn’t sleep on your side immediately after a facelift as it interferes with recovery. You can only sleep on your side two to four weeks after a facelift.
When can you wash your hair after a facelift?
You can wash your hair the day after a facelift. After washing your hair you should pat dry the incision sites.
When will I look normal after a facelift?
You should start looking normal a month after a facelift.
Who is Dr Mark Doyle? Why choose him?
Dr Mark Doyle is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon with over thirty years of experience performing Breast, Body, Face, and Nose surgery. As a highly esteemed plastic surgeon, Dr Mark is driven by an intense passion for helping patients achieve a happier, more beautiful self through advanced cosmetic surgery procedures. He maintains a strong commitment to achieving the best possible results for all his patients, both men, and women.
Book a Consultation with Dr Doyle
If you would like to learn more about facelift surgery or the recovery after a facelift, book a consultation with Specialist Plastic Surgeon Dr Mark Doyle.
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About Dr Mark Doyle FRACS (Plast) – Queensland Plastic Surgeon
Servicing patients in Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Cairns and New South Wales NSW – Northern Rivers, Byron Bay, Ballina, Lismore and more.
Dr Mark Doyle is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon with over thirty years of experience performing Breast, Body, Face and Nose surgery. As a highly esteemed plastic surgeon, Dr Mark is driven by an intense passion for helping patients achieve a happier, more beautiful self through advanced cosmetic surgery procedures.
He maintains a strong commitment to achieving the best possible results for all his breast, body, face and nose patients, both men and women.
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*DISCLAIMER: All information on Gold Coast Plastic Surgery website is general in nature and is not intended to be medical advice nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Results can vary significantly and depend on individual patient circumstances. All images on this website, unless specified as real patient images, are stock images used for illustrative purposes only. Surgery risks and complications will be covered in detail during a consultation with your surgeon. Book a consult for details regarding your cosmetic surgery procedure.