As a bespoke procedure, the recovery period for a facelift varies from patient to patient. Our surgeons employ different techniques to resolve skin laxity in the face, which presents differently in each patient. Thus, your facelift recovery largely depends on the level of invasiveness of your cosmetic procedure. We will, however, provide a general overview of a facelift recovery in this article.
Factors that Impact Facelift Recovery
The following factors may impact the rate at which you recover from your facelift:
At the Rae Clinic, we employ different types of facelifts and surgical techniques to treat the unique cosmetic concerns of each patient. Some of these techniques are more complicated and invasive than others. For instance, MACS, which involves only tightening the deeper muscle layers of the face using sutures, is less invasive than the deep plane technique where the plastic surgeons lift both the skin and muscle layers of the face.
Typically, the younger you are, the quicker you will recover from a facelift. Older patients are likely to have more advanced skin laxity, thus requiring a more invasive facelift procedure. Furthermore, older patients have depleted collagen levels and fat deposits, making it more difficult for the skin to recover from trauma.
However, our surgeons can combine a facelift with energy-based treatments that increase the production of collagen and fat transfer treatments to combat any age-related concerns. Visit our blog for more information on what age you should get a facelift.
The state of your overall health will also determine the rate at which you recover. A good candidate for a facelift does not have underlying medical conditions that can affect their recovery. However, smoking, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise are factors that negatively impact your immune system and may make for a slower recovery.
Following Post-Op Instructions
Before your cosmetic procedure, you will receive detailed instructions to help manage your recovery. These include taking prescribed pain medication, minimising swelling with ice packs, consuming a high protein diet, and cleaning the incision sites three times a day. Following these instructions will help you recover quicker from your facelift, minimise scarring, reduce the risk of post-surgical complications, and maximise the results.
Facelift Recovery Timeline
Below is a typical timeline for facelift recovery. This timeline may vary depending on the complexity of your surgical procedure:
During the first 24 hours after your facelift, you may experience pain and discomfort from swelling. Our facial plastic surgeon will remove the surgical dressing after 24 hours and assess your healing process. The swelling usually peaks 3-4 days after surgery, which coincides with your second follow-up visit with our plastic surgeon.
7-14 days after the cosmetic procedure, you will likely still experience swelling in certain areas of your face. However, the pain should significantly reduce after a few days, and you should be able to resume most of your daily routine, including returning to work. Our plastic surgeons will schedule a final follow-up visit around 12 days after your facelift.
The swelling will continue to dissipate. As a result, the results of your facelift will gradually emerge around this time.
Month One and Beyond
It takes 4 to 5 weeks for the swelling to completely subside, after which you can resume your everyday activities, including intense exercise. However, there may be some residual swelling and the final results of a facelift may not be visible until 6-9 months after the procedure.
Swelling and Pain After Facelift
Facial swelling, which accompanies a certain degree of pain, is caused by the damaged tissue and disruption to the lymphatic vessels during the facelift. Consequently, your facial tissues will be carrying excess lymphatic fluid, thus causing your face to appear swollen and inflamed. As you begin to heal, your lymphatic drainage system will resume its normal functioning, which in turn will reduce facial swelling.
How to Prepare for Facelift Recovery
For a smooth facelift recovery process, take the following steps before your cosmetic procedure:
A nutritious diet is essential for a speedy facelift recovery. For this reason, you may find it easier to do meal prep and keep your refrigerator stocked with healthy food that you can eat soon after surgery to help your body heal. In particular, we recommend eating foods rich in protein and fibre, as well as probiotics like yoghurt and miso.
Create a Resting Space
Your body needs plenty of sleep and rest to heal and recharge from your facelift. Therefore, we recommend creating a resting space with essential items such as your phone and charger, medications, and magazines nearby to occupy yourself and minimise movement. Ideally, your resting place will be a recliner or bed where you can keep your head elevated.
Set Out Clothing
You may want to purchase or prepare clothing and outfits before your cosmetic procedure to wear during your facelift recovery period. While your face is still swelling and your incisions are still healing, we recommend wearing cardigans, sweatshirts, and tops that you can open at the front to avoid any discomfort that may occur from having to pull clothing over your head.
Ask for Help
During your facelift recovery, you will need to rely on others for day-to-day tasks that you won’t be capable of doing. For example, you will need to arrange a taxi or ask someone to drive you home after being discharged, and you may need someone to shop for you, run errands, and help with other household chores. You should make sure that you have help available before your cosmetic procedure.
Below, we have compiled a list of aftercare tips that will help ease post-surgical side-effects for a more comfortable facelift recovery:
INDIBA treatments are available at the Rae Clinic following surgery to facilitate a more comfortable facelift recovery process. The INDIBA Deep Care technology utilises radiofrequency energy to provide a number of post-surgical benefits, including reducing swelling by improving lymphatic drainage. After two treatments, most patients notice a 50% improvement in pain.
At the Rae Clinic, we also offer Aerolase Neo Elite treatments, which greatly improve bruising and edema (swelling that is caused by fluid building up in tissue) that may develop after a facelift. Aerolase treatments are non-invasive, as they treat the skin using contactless lasers which have a patented short pulse duration. Furthermore, unlike many other laser treatments, Aerolase Neo Elite is safe for all skin tones.
Elevate Your Head
To minimise swelling, you should sleep on your back with your head elevated on a pillow for at least a week after your facelift. Due to gravity, this posture reduces swelling by reducing the amount of fluid accumulating within the damaged tissue.
Avoid Strenuous Exercise
Strenuous exercise and heavy lifting can increase swelling, inflammation, and the risk of infection and scarring. Therefore, you must consult with your facial plastic surgeon before resuming your exercise routine. In general, most patients can begin taking light walks after 2-3 days, can increase the intensity of their walks after 1-2 weeks, can resume light cardio exercises in the gym after 2-4 weeks, and can gradually ease into their regular exercise routine including weightlifting after 4-6 weeks.
Apply Ice Packs
By placing an ice pack on the face, you can reduce swelling and create a numbing sensation that eases pain. Through contraction of the blood vessels, the cold from the ice slows down blood flow to the area. As a rule of thumb, our cosmetic surgeon recommends applying cold compresses to the face for 20 minutes at a time.
Sleep on Your Back
In addition to keeping your head elevated, you should sleep on your back after facelift surgery. Doing so will help minimise swelling and prevent you from pulling out your stitches, thus helping to preserve the outcome of the facelift. Furthermore, patients find this a more comfortable sleeping and resting position when recovering. Typically, most patients can resume sleeping on their side 2-4 weeks after cosmetic surgery.
Avoid Hot Showers
After you remove your dressings, usually within 24 hours, you can take a shower and wash your face. However, cleaning around your incision sites should still be done with care, and you should have a shower with cold or lukewarm water. While cold reduces swelling, heat can increase it. Therefore, you will need to avoid hot showers for around two weeks after your cosmetic procedure.