What To Expect After A Facelift

As we age, the skin loses collagen and elastin, and it also loses fat, which can make our faces look older than they are. The result may be loose, sagging skin. What can you do?

Facelifts are among the top 5 surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures in the United States. Most patients opt for a facelift in their 40s, but many get it earlier or later depending on how much loose skin and volume loss they have.

For best results, you can combine a facelift with another procedure such as an eyebrow lift or blepharoplasty (i.e., surgical removal of excess eyelid tissue).

From our expert at Lahar Plastic Surgery, Dr. Nicholas Lahar, here’s everything you need to know about getting a facelift.

Facelifts vs. Injectables For Anti-Aging

A facelift is the best choice to permanently reduce sagging and loose skin in the mid and lower face. If a facelift is done well, it can take up to 10 years off your face.

However, not everyone wants to undergo this procedure. A temporary option is to have a liquid facelift.

During this noninvasive procedure, you receive dermal filler injections that increase fullness in the face. Also, your doctor may inject Botox, which freezes the tiny muscles that make our facial expressions.

When those muscles are frozen, it smoothes out lines and wrinkles and makes you look younger.

Some of the areas where dermal fillers and Botox can help include:

  • Temples
  • Brow
  • Under the lower eyelids
  • Hollow cheeks
  • Lines between the nose and mouth
  • Creases near the mouth that causes jowls

Injectables like Botox and dermal fillers can erase signs of aging, but the results are temporary and can come with some unpleasant long-term side effects.

For example, although Botox paralyzes the muscles responsible for movement and thus reduces the risk of developing wrinkles, long-term paralysis of the facial muscle also causes muscle atrophy and volume loss, which can make you look older.

Facelifts are more invasive, but they don’t come with the long-term side effects of injectables. A facelift also lasts much longer than a liquid facelift.

Also, you will need to have dermal filler and Botox injections every three to six months to maintain your results.

Some of the most popular dermal fillers contain:

  • Hyaluronic acid: This substance increases volume in the cheeks. The effects can last up to six or eight months. The effects can be reversed if you aren’t pleased with your new look.
  • Calcium hydroxyapatite: This filler isn’t reversible, but it can last up to 18 months by adding volume in the mid and lower face.
  • Poly-L-lactic acid: This filler boosts collagen production and can last up to two years. You will probably need three or four sessions for maximum benefit.
  • Fat injection: Your surgeon can inject your fat from another part of the body using liposuction into the face to reduce lines and wrinkles and increase volume.

Recovery And Results After A Facelift

In the first few days after surgery, you may experience swelling and bruising. You may also be advised to rest and wear drains to eliminate potential fluid build-up in your face.

Within a week, the swelling should go down. However, you may still see some bruising on your face. During this time, you’re advised to limit your activities and eat soft foods.

After a month, you should be able to go back to your everyday routine. That said, only two to three months after the facelift will you see the final results of the procedure. If you’ve had fat grafting done to your face, recovery may last longer.

The final results also depend on the skill of the plastic surgeon. To get an idea of the results you can expect after a facelift, look at our before and after gallery.

How To Speed Up The Healing Process

A facelift is a serious operation, and your body will need time to rest and heal. So what can you do to ensure you have the fastest recovery?

Here are some essential tips that will get you back to normal quickly:

Don’t Be A Couch Potato

You don’t want to engage in vigorous physical activity for several weeks after your facelift. But that doesn’t mean you should sit around or sleep all day.

After you take it easy for a day or two, try to go for a walk around the block every day. These gentle movements increase your circulation and will help you heal faster.

It also does some good for your mind and spirit to get out of the house and get moving. Being in a positive frame of mind also will help your healing process.

Eat A Healthy Diet

Your body is healing, so you need to give it plenty of nutrients. Eat fresh fruit, vegetables, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates. If you do that, your body will be able to heal quickly.

Drink A Lot Of Water

Water helps to flush away toxins, and that’s an essential part of the healing process. So, drink at least eight glasses of water per day.

Get Rest

You do want to engage in light activities but get plenty of rest, too. When we sleep is when the body does most of its necessary healing and repairing.

You should lie down with your head elevated when you can to reduce swelling.

Take Medications

Your plastic surgeon will probably give you prescription pain medication and antibiotics for the first one or two weeks of your recovery. You may decide that you don’t need strong pain medication after a few days; if so, you can take Tylenol but avoid medications that encourage bleeding, such as aspirin.

Also, remember that you shouldn’t drive as long as you are taking a prescription pain drug.

Care For Your Incisions

Your surgeon and staff will tell you how to care for your face and incisions after the facelift. It’s essential to follow these directions and keep the incisions clean to minimize scarring.

Also, cleaning the incisions carefully every day with soap and water minimizes the chances of an infection.

Don’t Drink

You shouldn’t drink alcohol for a few weeks after your procedure because it can lead to swelling. This is because your face will already have significant swelling for about two weeks.

Avoid The Sun

You should avoid the sun as much as you can for the first month after surgery. This is because the sun can discolor your incisions and make them more noticeable after you heal.

Don’t Look In The Mirror Too Much

You will enjoy impressive and dramatic results from your facelift. But it takes time for the swelling and bruising to go away. So, please don’t be too concerned about what you see in the mirror for the first month or so.

You could still have some swelling after two or three months, but be patient. After all the swelling fades, you will be amazed at how much younger you look!

Don’t Smoke

You should not smoke for at least a month before and after your facelift. Nicotine and tobacco use reduce circulation and slow the healing process – exactly what you don’t want after this procedure.

If you are having difficulty with not smoking, talk to your doctor about how they can help.

Be Patient

Your body will take several months to heal after a facelift. You may notice a lot of swelling, and one side of the face may be more swollen than the other. There also tends to be bruising around the eyes at first.

All of this is normal. After about two weeks, you should be able to go out in public without anyone noticing anything.

When Should You Get Help?

Mild pain and moderate swelling, and bruising are normal after a facelift. But if you notice excessive pain or anything else unusual, call your surgeon right away.

Your healthcare team can tell you if what you’re experiencing is normal or not.

It’s also essential to attend all of your follow-up appointments to ensure your recovery is going well.

Learn More About Facelifts

If you’re interested in learning more about how a facelift can help rejuvenate your skin, contact us to schedule an appointment. Dr. Lahar will be more than happy to answer all of your questions and help you determine what procedure works best for your aesthetic goals.


12 Facelift Recovery Tips To Know. (2021). Accessed at https://www.realself.com/news/facelift-recovery-rules

If You Start Injectables Young, You Can Prevent Aging. (n.d.). Accessed at https://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/blog/if-you-start-injectables-young-can-you-prevent-aging

Is A Liquid Facelift Right For You? (n.d.). Accessed at https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/is-a-liquid-face-lift-right-for-you

Your Facelift Recovery Explained From Day 1 To 30. (2019). Accessed at https://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/blog/your-facelift-recovery-explained-from-day-1-to-day-30

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