Facelift Recovery

What to expect after your facelift procedure

Good news—today’s facelift techniques not only result in a more natural look, but also help reduce recovery time and discomfort. Here’s the scoop.

How will I feel after facelift surgery?

When you wake up from anesthesia after your facelift, your face will feel tight, sore, and a bit swollen. Post-op discomfort peaks about 2 days after surgery, but can be quelled with pain medication and cool compresses. We want you to get up and take frequent, easy walks as soon as possible after surgery (just walking around the house counts), but don’t lift anything or bend over—doing so strains your incision sites and can hinder healing.

Sleep on a recliner or with your head propped up on a pillow for the first 1 to 2 weeks; this helps swelling subside, and you’ll be more comfortable. The heavy-duty dressings come off within 2 to 3 days after surgery, but you may need to wear a lighter compression garment for another week or two to support your healing incisions.

After a facelift, when can I…

  • Wash my face and hair? Typically 1 to 2 days after surgery. Be gentle and run your soap/shampoo choice by Dr. Clark to make sure it won’t irritate incisions.
  • Drive? When you’re off pain meds and you can turn your head and neck normally. Expect 1 to 2 weeks out of the driver’s seat.
  • Go out in public? Whenever you feel comfortable doing so. Most patients prefer to wait about 2 weeks until post-op bruising and swelling is hard to detect and the bandages/compression garments are off.
  • Go back to work? If you have a desk job, within 10 to 14 days. If you have to do anything physical, at least 2 weeks.
  • Wear make-up? When Dr. Clark says it’s okay–usually about 1 week. We’ll help you choose make-up that is safe post-facelift.
  • Get back to exercise? Nothing strenuous for 3 to 4 weeks. You can go for longer walks after 1 to 2 weeks, but keep the pace relatively easy. If you have sport-specific questions, ask Dr. Clark at your consultation.

Timing your facelift for a special occasion

Many patients who have been considering a facelift for years decide to take the plunge when a big event is looming: a 20-year reunion, their son or daughter’s wedding, a second honeymoon, etc. If this is your goal, you’ll want to schedule surgery at least 2 months (preferably 3) before your special occasion.

While you’ll look good before this time, residual swelling will still factor in, and although the right hairdo can hide scars effectively, they will still be firmer and brighter than their final form. After the three-month milestone, most patients have settled into their new look, experienced newly recharged confidence, and are ready to celebrate.