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Facelift Recovery Explained

As we age, our skin naturally begins to lose its elasticity. And eventually, this leads to wrinkles and sagging. Facelifts are a surgical procedure that can help to tighten and lift facial tissues. This often involves removing excess skin and smoothing wrinkles. The best candidates for facelifts are healthy, non-smokers. It’s also important that you’re realistic about your expectations.

This is especially the case when it comes to what you expect from the recovery process. While most people understand the benefits of a facelift, not many people consider the recovery process. Specifically, they don’t think about what each stage of the process entails. However, the recovery process is just as important as the surgery itself. Let’s take a brief look at what you should expect immediately after the recovery process as well as the months that follow.

The Facelift Recovery Process: Immediately After

One of the first things that most surgeons will do after your facelift surgery is prescribed medication. They’ll issue instructions in regards to when you should remove your drains or bandages. Your doctor will also suggest the best time to schedule your next appointment.

In most instances, you’ll be instructed to do as little talking and chewing as possible. You may also be encouraged to drink liquids and eat soft foods for the first couple of days. If you feel an unusual amount of pain, then you’re expected to consult your doctor.

Stage 1: The first stage of recovery takes place within the first seven days after your facelift. This is the point at which you’ll need the help of a caretaker–specifically within the first 24 hours. After day 2, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to get up and move around your home.

During this stage, you’ll likely experience nausea and extreme fatigue as a result of your medications. However, you should make sure to take your medication according to the instructions and on schedule as this will help you to manage stiffness and soreness around your ears and neck. This way, you’ll be able to do light activities around the home which will encourage circulation.

It’s also important that you focus on taking care of your incisions. In many cases, the stitches are itchy, but if they are well-taken care of, you can avoid a lot of discomfort. The better you care for this area, the faster it will heal.

Within the first four days, you’ll notice bruising and swelling. There are instances in which the bruising or swelling may be more noticeable on one side than the other. This is perfectly normal as each side of your face is its surgery site. But if the bulge is severe on either side of your neck or face, then you should get in touch with your doctor as soon as possible so that they can take a look at the area. You may also contact your surgeon if you’re running a fever over the course of several days.

Stage 2: The second stage of recovery is days 7 to 14. There will still be swelling and bruising on your neck, face, around your eyes, and behind the ears. The swelling and bruising may even be accompanied by numbness or burning and tingling sensations, which is completely normal. Though you’ll notice that your face is starting to heal, it won’t be very visible until stage 3 or 4. It can take up to a year before you see the full results of the surgery.

At this point, the surgeon will likely remove any staples that were used to hold together the incisions of hair-bearing skin. Though it’s still important that you only do light activities, it’s recommended that you keep moving. Try not to stay in bed all day.

Stage 3: The second stage of recovery is days 15 to 30. During this stage, you’ll notice a big improvement in your incisions. At first, they may have appeared puckered and bunched together. But at this point, they should seem more settled. The last bit of swelling and tightness will continue to improve over time.

In stage 3, you’ll likely be ready to re-enter the public eye. You’ll feel and look better. While you can go back to work or the gym, it’s still important that you avoid doing anything too strenuous such as lifting heavy items.

Your incisions may be a little red or pink, but this is only temporary. If you want to cover the incisions you can apply makeup to the area or allow your hair to fall around them so that it camouflages it. The scars should fade with each passing day, but they likely won’t completely disappear until a year from the surgery. It’s best to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun.

Stage 4: Stage 4 begins on day 31 and continues until the end of the first year after your surgery. Typically, recovery is defined as the time that it takes you to resume all of your everyday activities. But if you factor in all of the bruising, swelling, sensations, and the changes that take place in your face, then recovery will include the rest of the year. This is the time in which you’ll notice a lot of subtle changes in your face.


The benefit of knowing what you should expect at each phase of recovery is that you’ll know what’s normal and what’s not. You’ll be able to make better decisions. You’ll be aware of when it’s time to get in contact with your doctor. You’ll also be more patient when it comes to seeing the results. Keep in mind that your recovery is a part of the process. Though it may take some time to reach your goal, if you take good care of yourself during this phase it will all be worth it in the end. If you have more questions about what you should expect after your facelift surgery, then get in contact with a qualified professional like Dr. Jacono.

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