Your Guide to Facelift Recovery

Woman looking in the mirror and smiling while touching her face. (MODEL)

A facelift is a safe, effective plastic surgery procedure recommended for patients who want to look naturally younger and feel more confident. Women and men elect to have facelifts for a variety of personal reasons. However, most facelift patients aim to restore the lower 2/3 of the face and neck to appear more youthful and rested.

Are you considering a facelift? Perhaps you’ve researched the procedure itself, but you still have many questions, like:

  • How long does it take to recover from a facelift?
  • How long does a facelift typically last?
  • What can you expect as you recover from a facelift?

Our providers want to help you understand everything about your facelift recovery. Knowing what to expect and adhering to your recovery instructions will make a big difference when it comes to getting the desired results. So, keep reading for a step-by-step timeline addressing all your facelift recovery questions and tips.

Before & After Facelift Case 148 Front View in Ann Arbor, MI
Before and After Facelift Surgery

Types of Facelifts and Recovery

Our team at Center for Plastic Surgery Ann Arbor recognizes that every patient has unique concerns. That’s why we offer different facelift options to help you achieve your goals. Facelifts can also be combined with other procedures, such as a brow lift, to maximize results.

Nonsurgical Facelift: utilizes injectables like JUVÉDERM VOLBELLA® to treat dark under-eye circles and tear troughs, JUVÉDERM VOLUMA® can be used to add cheek volume and JUVÉDERM VOLUX® to define the jawline. BOTOX® is also injected around the forehead and eyes to eliminate wrinkles, the “11s,” and crow’s feet.

Surgical Facelift: incisions along the hairline and around the ear allow your surgeon to tighten neck muscles while lifting and redraping loose, sagging skin on the face. In a mini facelift, tinier incisions are used to target a smaller portion of the face.

The results of a nonsurgical facelift are almost immediate, and there is little to no recovery downtime. However, surgical facelifts require a longer recovery time, and you must follow your surgeon’s protocol to achieve optimal results. You can learn how the experience differs between a nonsurgical facelift and a mini facelift in our related blog post.

Facelift Recovery Timeline

It is essential to allow adequate downtime during facelift healing and recovery. This includes physical healing as well as feeling comfortable around others post-surgery. While every experience is unique, here’s what you can generally expect during each step of facelift recovery:

Day of surgery:

You will be sent home on the same day of your surgery with dressings wrapped around your head and neck. Prescription medications help minimize any discomfort. You’ll need a friend or family member to drive you home and stay with you as you may feel groggy from the sedation and local anesthetic you received.

Day 2 of recovery:

Your dressings and bandages are removed and changed by your surgeon, who inspects your incision and assesses swelling. You are feeling more alert, but it’s still important to get plenty of rest.

Week 1 of recovery:

Swelling and bruising may peak by day 3 or 4, but you have little discomfort and no longer need prescription pain relief. You can take short walks around the house to help boost circulation (and minimize boredom!). Swelling usually reduces by the end of the week.

Week 2 of recovery:

You are feeling more like your “normal” self! At your follow-up, we remove your sutures and monitor any swelling and bruising to ensure it continues to decrease. If you wish, you can apply makeup to help camouflage any bruising or redness, and you may feel comfortable enough to return to work. Strenuous activity should still be avoided.

Week 3 to 4 of recovery:

You’re hitting the one-month mark, and you should be looking and feeling much better! Swelling has subsided, and you’re able to notice improvements. You can attend social functions and activities with friends and family without feeling self-conscious.

Week 5 … and beyond!

You are well on your way to recovery! While it takes a minimum of 3 months to heal fully, you are proudly showing off the new you. Note: Improvements will continue over several months, and it can take 6 to 12 months for minor swelling, tightness, or numbness to subside and for scars to fade. Not to worry—these symptoms are usually undetectable to others.

Facelift Recovery Tips

You can help ensure a smooth recovery by taking a few simple steps:

  • Consider your social calendar before scheduling surgery
  • Get as healthy as possible before surgery to ease recovery time
  • Allow yourself ample recovery downtime
  • Sleep with your head elevated
  • Keep realistic expectations
  • Carefully follow your surgeon’s post-surgery protocol

Achieving Long-Lasting Facelift Results

Patients are understandably anxious about how long their facelift will last. A surgical facelift typically lasts 10 to 15 years. However, a facelift doesn’t stop the aging process. You can protect your facelift investment by doing the following:

  • Diligently applying sunscreen
  • Scheduling periodic nonsurgical treatments such as BOTOX,  Voluma, and Morpheus 8 microneedling
  • Using high-quality medical-grade skincare products
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle

Our team of board-certified plastic surgeons has more than 50 years of combined plastic surgery experience. Contact us today to request a facelift consultation or call our office at (734) 712-2323.

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