Recovery after Facelift Surgery – What to Expect

Recovery After Facelift Surgery – Tips and Advice from Dr Mark Gittos NZ Plastic Surgeon

A facelift surgery can make you appear more youthful and vibrant. It can help rejuvenate and refresh your face and make you look around 10 years younger. Make sure you choose a surgeon who is highly experienced in facelift surgery. Dr Gittos is an Auckland Specialist Plastic Surgeon and Facelift expert – here are his Tips and a Timeline for what to expect for recovery after Facelift Surgery.

Timeline for Recovery after Facelift

First Day after the Facelift Surgery

After surgery you might feel a bit groggy and nauseous from anaesthesia. Your face will be bandaged. In certain cases, your facelift surgeon may also use drainage tubes to drain excess fluid.

Your surgeon will keep you in hospital for a day or two to ensure everything is fine. Make sure that you have someone responsible to drive you home after the facelift surgery. It is advised to ask a family member or a friend to stay with you for at least the first two days after surgery.

Once the pain killer wears off, you will begin to feel some mild pain. The medical staff will give you painkillers after the surgery.

A Few Days after a Facelift Surgery

You will feel uncomfortable but will not feel any significant pain. However, keep taking your pain medication on time. Swelling and bruising feel more pronounced during the first few days after the surgery. This is a fairly normal part of facelift recovery. You will not see the results of the facelift in the initial days of the surgery. It is also very common to experience tightness around the neck area. Facelift surgery involves tightening up your skin. Hence, it will take some time for your face to adjust to the changes.

Many people can become anxious during this phase of recovery. Strive to stay calm. It will help the recovery phase go by quicker. If you can, get someone to help you with the household for the initial days of recovery and rest as much as possible.

Once you feel a little better, you can start walking around the house. It will help prevent blood clotting. Avoid all kinds of activities that involve physical exertion for at least a month.

One Week after a Facelift Surgery

One week after the surgery, you can stop taking pain meds after discussing it with your surgeon. You will slowly start to feel better than you did immediately after the surgery. Start taking a ten to fifteen-minute walk around the house twice a day. You will still have swelling and bruising all around your face and neck area. Having patience is the key to a smooth recovery. Keep sleeping on your back with your head in an elevated position. You can also use ice to reduce swelling on your face. Make sure to wrap it up in a towel and apply it for a few minutes at a time.

Two Weeks after a Facelift Surgery

At the two-week mark, you could return to work if your job is not physically demanding. If it is, you might still want to stay at home for another two weeks. Bruising and swelling will reduce significantly by week two. You can use mineral makeup to cover up the minimal bruising. That way, you will feel more comfortable going out in the public.

As the numbness fades away, you might start to feel minor tingling sensations around the incisions. At this point, you can resume taking supplements or blood-thinning medications. You will also feel the urge to scratch your incisions – avoid scratching at all costs. Keep applying the topical ointments your surgeon has given you.

One Month after a Facelift Surgery

You will be able to do almost all the tasks around your house along with gentle exercises. However, you should still stay clear of heavy lifting as well as strenuous exercises. Bruising will be completely gone by week two. You can easily go out in public without wearing makeup. Some patients also report tingling and tightness. It is very normal and you shouldn’t worry about it. Essentially, you will begin to feel like yourself.

2 Months after a Facelift Surgery

You have reached the end of your normal recovery period. You will look more refreshed, radiant and more importantly youthful. Enjoy the fact that you have erased ten years of your face. At this point, you can return to your normal life. You can start with your usual exercise routine and off course, flaunt your new looks.

Preparing for a Smooth Recovery after Facelift

Preparation is the key to a good recovery. The more help you can get around the house, the better it is. Here are a few things you need to do in advance of surgery:

1. Go Shopping and Stock Up on essentials

It’s time to do a bit of shopping. Stock up your fridge with ready-made meals. You can also do meal prep and prepare in advance. Make sure to include plenty of proteins, fruits and vegetables, reduce the salt content and create multiple small batches. Try to have some easy-to-cook and digest food options for the first week or two.

2. Get Your Recovery Clothes Ready

Go through your wardrobe and select plenty of comfortable clothing options that you will be wearing throughout the recovery phase. Choose blouses, shirts and sweatshirts that can be opened from the front. It is best to avoid clothes that are worn over your head. If you don’t have enough comfy clothes, you might want to do some shopping.

3. Prep Your Recovery Room

Prepare your resting space ahead of time. Make sure to choose a room that is comfortable and can accommodate all the things that you are going to need for several days. If possible, get a recliner. It will allow you to sleep comfortably without the need of stacking pillows under your head. Prepare a table that is within your reach near your bed. Keep your phone, charger, tissues, medications, ointments, water, magazines, remote control for TV/AC, and everything you will need during your recovery.

4. Get your Medical Tests done

Get any lab pre surgery tests done that are required by your surgeon. Nobody wants to be running around during the last week before the surgery.

5. Take Care of What You Consume

A month before the surgery, you need to give up smoking and drinking. Also, ask your surgeon about reducing blood-thinning medications as well as any herbal supplements. If you take certain medications regularly, it is important to discuss them with your surgeon. Make sure none of your medicines or supplements interfere with the outcome of the surgery.

6. Adopt a Healthy Diet

It is important to take care of your diet before the surgery. Eat a nutrient-rich diet that is low in sodium. Include proteins, vegetables and plenty of fruits. Drink loads of water as well. Taking care of your diet ahead of time will give you the strength you need for recovery. Good Nutrition helps get you a good facelift result.

7. Build Your Support Network

Get your support system in place. It will keep you motivated. Ask a family member or friend to stay at home with you during the initial days of recovery. It will keep you motivated and allow you to feel supported.

Warning Signs to watch for during Recovery from Facelift Surgery

Here are a few signs you should look out for, during recovery. If any of these persist, you must call your surgeon or medical professional right away.

  • If you experience extreme swelling on one side of your face, call your surgeon.
  • If you are experiencing unbearable pain even after taking painkillers, you should contact your surgeon immediately.
  • You notice a pus-like discharge from your incisions.- sign of an infection
  • Your stitches become loose or are coming out.
  • You experience bleeding from incisions at any point during a recovery phase.
  • If you experience blood clotting, it’s time to get some help. A great way to spot blood clotting is when you experience swelling or pain on just one side of your body or leg.
  • Contact your surgeon if bruising persists after one month.

Recovery after Facelift Surgery FAQs

Here is a list of frequently asked questions we get regarding facelift recovery: 

Can I sleep on my side after the facelift?

  • You can start sleeping on your side in about two to four weeks as per your surgeon’s advice.

Can you talk after a facelift?

  • You can talk after a facelift. However, it is best to avoid talking or talk as little as possible for the first 24 to 48 hours after recovery.

How bad does a facelift hurt?

  • During the surgery, you will not feel any pain as the surgery is done under anaesthesia. After the surgery, you will experience mild to moderate pain which can be easily tackled with the help of pain killers.

How can I speed up my facelift recovery?

  • You can speed up your recovery by following all the post-operative instructions closely and taking good care of yourself.
    • How do you take care of your face after a facelift?
    • Use ice on your face to minimize swelling. Be careful not to ice burn it.
    • Do not bend over or lift heavy things.
    • Sleep on your back and keep your head in an elevated position.
    • Try not to touch your face excessively.
    • Apply all the topical ointments.

How do you wash your hair after a facelift?

  • You can wash your hair about 2 to 5 days after the surgery with a mild shampoo. Aim to keep your incisions dry.

How long does the pain last after a facelift?

  • Most of the pain will subside in about three days. For some patients, the pain will last for a week. Your surgeon will prescribe you pain killers to combat the pain. Make sure to take them after regular intervals.

How long should you wear a compression bandage after a facelift?

How long should I wear the chin strap after a facelift?

  • You should wear a chin strap for at least two weeks post-surgery.

How long do facelift scars take to heal?

  • Your scars will heal in about six months’ time frame and acquire a whitish colour. It might take up to a year for the scars to fade away completely.

How long does your face stay swollen after a facelift?

  • It will take a minimum of six to eight weeks for the swelling to go away completely.

How long does it take for a facelift to settle?

  • Your face will start to look fairly normal in about four to six weeks after the surgery.

How long will my face be numb after a facelift?

  • It is common to experience numbness for at least six months after getting a facelift.

What should I eat for optimal recovery after facelift surgery?

  • Eat plenty of proteins, fruits and vegetables which are rich in fibre. Avoid processed foods that are rich in sodium. Also, drink loads of water and liquids. Good nutrition helps with faster healing and better-looking scars.

When can I sleep on my side after a facelift?

  • You can sleep on your side, four weeks after the facelift surgery.

When can you wash your hair after a facelift?

  • You can wash your hair 48 hours after the facelift. Make sure to use a mild, medicated shampoo.

When will I look normal after a facelift?

  • You will start to look fairly normal in about 3 to 4 weeks after the facelift. By week four, most of the swelling and bruising will be gone. If bruising persists after week 3, you can use makeup to cover it up.

For answers to any other questions about Recovery after Facelift Surgery – please contact Dr Gittos’ team

For more information about Recovery after Facelift Surgery

About Dr Mark Gittos FRACS (Plast) – New Zealand Plastic Surgeon 

Practice locations in Auckland, Northland and Bay of Plenty – Remuera, Kerikeri, Whangarei, New Plymouth & Tauranga

Dr Mark Gittos is a leading Specialist Plastic Surgeon and operates a practice in Remuera, Auckland and in the UK. The practice focuses on both surgical and non-surgical procedures, each designed to help restore, improve or change a physical characteristic or problem. The first step in every case is to talk through your personal requirements and explore all the options, before deciding on the most effective solution.

Dr Mark Gittos offers high quality, natural-looking cosmetic surgery results and is highly experienced in BreastBody and Face Surgery having performed over 4000 Surgeries in the last 26 years.  With worldwide expertise Dr Gittos is an expert in breast, face and body surgery for men & women. 

Naturally, before any treatment is begun, we will explain clearly the advantages and risk factors; so that you have the information you need to make an informed decision that is best for you. Visit the practice to find out more.

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