What to Expect When Recovering From a Facelift

Are you feeling self-conscious about sagging skin and unsightly folds on your face? There are plenty of benefits of getting a facelift, but most importantly the contour of your face will have a more youthful appearance. 

These days the medical technology has improved so much, leaving behind almost invisible scars and with much shorter recovery times than a few decades ago. 

If you’re considering a cosmetic procedure then you need to know what it’s like recovering from a facelift. Keep reading this guide for everything you need to know, what to expect, and how to look after yourself during recovery. 

Facelift Recovery Time and General Steps

It will take you around four to six weeks to make a full recovery after a surgical facelift. That being said, you will only see the results of your facelift in about three months. 

After surgery, you will likely have gauze wrapped around your head and neck and bandages covering the incision. These bandages will be removed a day or two after surgery.

In some cases, you might have a drain in place to remove the excess blood and fluid from your face. Either this will be removed before you are discharged from the hospital or your doctor will provide you with the necessary instructions to clean and care for the drain until it is removed. 

You will experience bruising on your neck and chest after a few days and you may have trouble opening your mouth for up to one week. In the first week after surgery, your doctor will remove the staples or stitches. 

What to Expect After Facelift Surgery 

The facelift recovery process will differ slightly depending on the type of procedure you undergo. However, there are some effects that you should expect and be prepared for.


After the surgery, you will experience some swelling in the surrounding facial tissue. This is completely normal, regardless of how minor or major the procedure is. Don’t be alarmed when the swelling becomes more intense the second day after surgery, this is also normal.

Swelling will always be worse in the morning as you’ve been lying down for a long time. As soon as you get elevated, the swelling will decrease. 

You can take measures to minimize the swelling by elevating your head when you sleep (use two pillows) and avoid turning your head or bending your neck. 


As with any cosmetic procedure, there will always be some accompanying pain in the aftermath. Luckily, after a facelift procedure, you should experience minimal pain. Rather, your face will feel heavy and somewhat bruised. 

It is usually unnecessary to take prescribed painkillers during recovery and over-the-counter drugs such as Tylenol should work just fine. This is also recommended as very strong painkillers may have uncomfortable side effects that will make the recovery process worse. 


There may be slight bleeding around the incisions that should stop when a little bit of pressure is applied. If you experience excessive bleeding you should return to your doctor immediately. 

Facelift Recovery Tips

After a facelift procedure, you want to ensure that your recovery is as quick, smooth, and painless as possible. You can take steps to ensure that everything goes smoothly by taking care of yourself when you get home. 

Of course, if you’re concerned about the recovery, opt for a non-invasive ultrasound facelift instead of a surgical facelift. However, if you’ve opted for a surgical facelift, follow these tips to care for yourself at home. 

Rest a Lot 

You should spend the first 12 hours after the procedure in bed with your head elevated to reduce swelling. On the first day after surgery take it easy, don’t move around, or talk too much. 

For several days after your surgery, you should sleep with two to three pillows to keep your head raised. Rest whenever you feel tired. 

Time Off Work

While facelift recovery time varies from person to person, you should take at least one week off work to recover. If your work is more focused on manual labor, then you should take two weeks. 

Activity and Exercise

Avoid strenuous exercise and activities for at least three weeks after your procedure. Before starting up with your usual exercise regime you should speak to your doctor. 

You can, and should, walk each day, increasing the length of the walk daily. 


Eat a diet of soft food for a few days following a facelift procedure as you may find it difficult to open your mouth wide and chew. Your bowel movements may be affected after surgery which is normal. Avoid straining if you are constipated and ask your doctor for laxatives. 

Incision Care 

If you have strips of tape over the incision you can leave them there for about a week. They should fall off by themselves. Ask your doctor for instructions about when and how to properly wash the incisions. Never use alcohol-based products or hydrogen peroxide while healing. 

Avoid using any lotions or moisturizers other than the ones that the doctor recommends. 

Recovering From a Facelift Can Be a Smooth Process

Ultimately, recovering from a facelift can be a speedy and painless process if you take the right steps to look after yourself. You should keep your head elevated in the first few days after surgery and rest as much as possible initially.

If you take it slow and look after yourself, you’ll be back in the thick of things with your youthful ‘new’ face in no time. 

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