Find a Doctor

Face Lift Recovery


Preparing for Face Lift Surgery

Face lift surgery usually takes between two and four hours. For extensive and/or multiple treatments, your doctor may schedule two separate sessions. Some surgeons complete one side of the face at a time, while others alternate from one side to the other throughout the procedure. In order to make surgery as effective as possible, there are important steps patients should take prior to any face lift procedure.

The Face Lift Consultation

During face lift consultations, patients discuss the areas they would like to enhance and learn about which procedures will produce the best results for them. Equally important, a consultation allows patients to develop a realistic understanding of what face lift surgery can accomplish. A thorough discussion of the results of face lift as well as the potential benefits of face lift surgery can help patients avoid disappointment or dissatisfaction after the procedure. Patients may also use the consultation to ensure that a cosmetic surgeon has the qualifications and the experience to deliver optimal results.

Am I a Good Candidate for Face Lift Surgery?

The best face lift candidates will have realistic expectations and follow the advice of their plastic surgeons. There is no optimal age for having face lift surgery performed. In fact, skin condition and texture are more important factors than age. After meeting with a cosmetic surgeon, the patient will usually be advised as to whether he or she is a good candidate for face lift surgery, or whether an alternate procedure might be preferable.

The best candidates for face lifts share certain important traits. The following is a list of factors that can affect whether or not an individual is a good candidate for face lift surgery:

  • Skin elasticity- An optimal face lift candidate will have skin that retains some flexibility. This is important because facelifts stretch the facial skin to remove wrinkles. Successful healing with maximum results depends on having skin that is still fairly supple.
  • Strong bone structure- An optimal face lift candidate will have a well-defined underlying bone structure to provide support and contribute to satisfying results. Patients with weak features may benefit from facial implants as an alternative or an addition to a face lift.
  • Realistic expectations- An optimal face lift candidate will understand not only what face lifts can accomplish, but also the limitations of facial plastic surgery procedures. Consulting with a qualified plastic surgeon can help a patient attain the information needed to make the right decision about face lift surgery.
  • Good overall health- An optimal face lift candidate will be generally healthy and will inform his or her surgeon of any preexisting medical conditions well in advance. A face lift is an invasive surgical procedure that requires significant healing and recovery, so it is essential that the patient be physically prepared for surgery.
  • Loose skin on the face or neck –An optimal face lift candidate often wants to remove excess skin from the face or neck, tightening skin and removing wrinkles simultaneously. The surgeon trims the loose skin during the procedure.

Age Limitations and Face Lifts?

Age is not the most important factor in determining who will be the best face lift candidate. Most patients who undergo rhytidectomy are between the ages of 40 and 70 years old. However, people older than 70 can benefit from the surgery as well. A qualified plastic surgeon can further evaluate each patient's skin texture and condition to make individual judgments and recommendations regarding candidacy.

More people over the age of 50 are turning to cosmetic surgery to improve their appearance, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Seniors are lining up for face lifts, laser skin resurfacing, BOTOX® treatment, and blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery). The doctor will take into account each person's particular circumstances, including age, before approving cosmetic surgery. Seniors undergoing surgery should understand that they will not look 20 years younger, although they will certainly look more youthful.

Two Weeks before Face Lift Surgery

During the two weeks prior to face lift surgery, patients will be asked to stop smoking. Smoking alters blood flow, which may negatively affect the healing process. (For the same reason, there should be no smoking for at least two weeks following surgery as well.) Aspirin and other blood thinners like ibuprofen and Vitamin E should also be avoided during this time. In addition, some patients may be prescribed medications to use prior to the operation. To help ensure a successful face lift, it is important that patients follow their surgeon’s directions closely.

The Day before Face Lift Surgery

Hair should be washed thoroughly the day before face lift surgery to minimize the risk of infection. Additionally, alcohol should be avoided the night prior to the procedure. Patients should also make sure to get a good night’s sleep, since it is important to be well rested during face lift surgery. Some cosmetic surgeons may give patients additional instructions.

The Day of Face Lift Surgery

Face lift surgery usually takes between two and four hours, depending on each person’s cosmetic needs. Patients will be given either local or general anesthesia prior to surgery; since the effects may last well beyond the time needed to perform the procedure, they should not plan on driving themselves home. Once surgery is over, patients generally receive a detailed list of post-operative face lift instructions from their surgeon. These should be followed precisely to ensure a successful recovery period.

Arranging Transportation and After-care

Although discomfort should be minimal immediately following face lift surgery, patients will not be in a condition to drive home. Their head will be bandaged and they may still be experiencing the effects of anesthesia. They should therefore arrange for transportation to and from the treatment center with a friend or family member. During the week following face lift surgery, they should also plan on maintaining a relatively light schedule. Often, having someone to help with everyday activities such as cooking and cleaning can make the recovery period much easier.

Visit the DocShop gallery to view face lift before and after photos.

Photo credit: Harrison H. Lee, MD, DMD, FACS

A face lift can produce excellent results; however, the recovery and healing time should be taken into consideration before undergoing this cosmetic procedure. Read the information below to learn more about face lift recovery.

What to Expect after Face Lift Surgery

Face lift is a serious surgical procedure that can help patients look younger by removing facial wrinkles and tightening loose facial skin and muscles. During the face lift procedure, excess skin and fat are trimmed away through incisions that separate the skin from the underlying tissue.

After surgery, the head and face will be loosely bandaged to help reduce swelling and bruising. A drainage tube may be inserted behind the patient’s ear to prevent blood and fluid from collecting under the skin. Pain medication is usually used to make the patient feel as comfortable as possible following surgery.

During the face lift recovery, patients should allow for adequate healing time and expect some postoperative swelling, numbness, and skin discoloration for about two weeks. All incisions and dressings should be kept dry until the surgeon indicates that showering or bathing is okay. For the first few days, the head should be kept elevated and immobile in order to minimize swelling. Most stitches will be removed in about five days, and the initial face lift results will be apparent soon afterward.

Face Lift Healing Time

The face lift healing time and recovery period can last anywhere from one week to several weeks, depending on the type of face lift surgery undergone. Most patients can return to work from a standard face lift in 10 days to two weeks, and patients who choose a mid face lift can expect about the same amount of recovery time. Patients who undergo an endoscopic face lift can return to work in as little as a day or two, and thread face lift and mini face lift patients can expect about the same “weekend” recovery time.

Some things, such as blow-drying your hair and wearing earrings, may be prohibited for a longer period of time. For the first few days or weeks, depending on your procedure, only walking and mild stretching are appropriate physical activities. Vigorous exercise, heavy housework, and sexual activity should be avoided for at least the initial two weeks after surgery. Alcohol, saunas, and steam rooms should be avoided for several months. During the face lift recovery period, extra rest is very important to promote proper healing.

Visit the DocShop gallery to view face lift before and after photos.

Photo credit: James P. Wire, MD

Consult a Plastic Surgeon in Your Area

For more information about face lift recovery, healing time, and ultimate results, find a cosmetic surgeon in your area today. DocShop can provide you with a list of doctors near you.

Want More Information?

Contact a Doctor Near You.