Facelift Recovery Tips.

Recovery after a facelift can be a bit harder than most people think. When you’re forced to stay still and actually take it easy, sometimes it makes want to do things that much more. Thankfully, there are some tips that can help you get through the recovery process with little to no discomfort.

No two people will have the same recovery process so you should tailor the tips below to fit your unique situation. Your surgeon has most likely explained the recovery process and has given you specific instructions to follow, and it’s critical that you follow your surgeon’s instructions to a T to avoid any complications and achieve the best results for your facelift. However, these tips are either a reminder of some things you might’ve forgotten or a suggestion your surgeon might’ve missed.

General “Do’s” and “Don’t’s” During a Facelift Recovery


  • Do Follow Your Surgeon’s Instructions: There is a reason your surgeon is telling you to do, and not do, certain things. They’ve paid their dues in med school and have performed these procedures before so they probably know what they’re talking about. If you want to get the best results from your facelift and have the smoothest recovery possible, follow your surgeon’s instructions. They’ve probably customized their “recovery script” to fit your specific situation.

  • Do Take It Easy For As Long As You Can:This might seem as simple as it gets but, it’s one of the things patients struggle the most with post-procedure. A day or two of nothingness is what most people wish for with their day-to-day lives but what happens after you think you’ve rested enough and get bored? The sudden need to do the most mundane tasks that you normally dreaded doing suddenly become the most important and interesting tasks in the world.

    Cleaning the house and reorganizing under the sink are now your number one priorities but, they’re actually the opposite of what “taking it easy” means. For the first week after your procedure, try to stay as minimally active as you can. This means finally watching that long series you never had time for, reading that book your friend suggested ages ago, or even taking up a relaxing hobby like painting, crafting, scrapbooking, journaling, blogging, and anything else that requires minimal physical energy.

    Hobbies like these will allow you to pass the time happily while being sat up and exerting minimal energy. Sitting up during the first week of recovery will help stop swelling. Plan on sitting upright for most of the day and at least 30-40 percent reclined the first week after your procedure.

  • Do Prep For Your Surgery: Ask a family member or a friend to be your helper for the first 48 hours; having a support system is crucial for the first couple of days in the recovery process. Let them care for you by helping you with anything you need like food, water, and making sure you took your medication on time. This person should also be the one that picks you up after your procedure since you won’t be able to drive coherently.

    Before leaving your home, make sure you’ve left everything ready so all you have to do after the procedure is relax. This means having a clean home and doing all the little everyday things before you’ve left the house the day of your procedure.

  • Do Treat Your Body Right: Remember that a facelift is still a procedure that takes a toll on the body. Treating your body right starts with giving it what it needs to become stronger and function healthily. Patients should try to adjust their diets to be cleaner about a week before their procedures. Adjusting your diet doesn’t mean going on a diet or drastically changing what and how you eat. It means making a conscious effort when deciding what goes in your body so that your body can focus all this new and cleaner energy on the healing process.

    In the coming days before your procedure, you should think about setting aside at least two full days of prepared food. The meal-prepped food should align with the dietary changes you made the week before so that your body can have healthier meals to help it efficiently recovery after the procedure. It’s a massive relief to both you and your helper/support system if the meals are covered for at least the first two days.

  • Do Get The Right Medication: Part of the preparation process for a facelift is getting your medication to your bedside table before you get on the operating table. Having the medication your surgeon prescribed in hand is going to be your number one thought after the anesthesia wears off. Facelifts usually leave patients with mild discomfort but do often lead to more than enough swelling in the first 4 days post-procedure.

    Medications, whether they’re over the counter or prescribed, can help alleviate this and get the blood flowing more easily to the treated areas.

    Your surgeon will most likely recommend a specific type of pain reliever if you choose to buy over-the-counter meds. As a rule of thumb, do not take any pain relievers (or any other medication) that causes blood thinning. Medications like Ibuprofen and aspirin are two of the main medications that patients mistakenly take. These medications cause blood to thin and could result in excess bleeding of incisions. This hinders the recovery process and, if excess bleeding does occur, it becomes more difficult for the blood to clot and stop the bleeding.
    Your surgeon should be aware of all medications that are prescribed by another doctor for any reason. This lets your surgeon know if you’re taking any medications that are possible blood thinners and helps to eliminate the possibility of excess bleeding or swelling after the procedure.

  • Do Care For Your Incisions: After the first 24- 48 hours post-procedure, patients will return to their surgeons for a follow-up. Surgeons will check the treated area, ensure incisions are looking good, and then clean and redress the bandaged areas. Depending on the types of incisions made and if the patient has drainage tubes, the surgeon will instruct patients on how to clean their incisions. Some patients will stay overnight for monitoring and cleaning of the drainage tubes and other patients will be able to go home the same day. Those with more extensive bandage dressing might need to go back to their surgeons a week after their follow-up for bandage removal. Those with less bandage dressing will most likely be able to gently cleanse their incisions with mild washes(Johnson & Johnsons or another baby wash) and lukewarm water. Ask your surgeon how you should clean your incisions for your situation.

  • Do Keep An Eye Out For Side Effects: Facelifts bring side effects like swelling, bruising, and slight discomfort that can last for the first couple of weeks if they haven’t gone down after the first week. Patients should monitor the treated area for any signs of excess swelling, bleeding, and pain. If patients experience any of these, pus on/in the incisions or loosening of stitching or drainage tube(s), get into contact with your surgeon as soon as possible.

  • Do Temperature Caution - Hot and Cold Rotations: 15 min on and 15 off - hot-cold One easy and simple way to bring down swelling and improve blood circulation after a facelift is by alternating cold and hot compresses. Patients shouldn’t actually put any “compression” on their face and necks, instead, lightly placing the cold and warm bags over the areas will do more than enough. Patients should abide by the 15-minute rule; 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off.

    Facelifts often affect the nerve endings of patients during the recovery phase and can nullify patient’s abilities to sense temperature accurately. Making sure the cold packs aren’t too cold and the hot packs aren’t too hot are incredibly important. Facelift patients have burned themselves before because they can’t accurately tell if a pack, towel, or bag is too much for the now sensitive treated area(s). Having your support system/ helper test the temperatures for you is a great way to avoid any mishaps. Over icing-heating is also possible which is why patients should take the 15-minutes off after every application.

  • Do Stay Hydrated: Staying hydrated helps your body recover. Hydrated skin is happy skin. Drinking 8 cups of water a day helps your skin and other organs stay on top! Try having a cup of water an hour if you struggle with drinking water in general.


  • Don’t Smoke: If you smoke, now is a phenomenal time to quit. If you don’t want to, that’s fine but, patients who get a facelift should stop smoking a minimum of two weeks before and after their procedure. Smoking weakens blood circulation in the body and the immune system, making the risk of infections much more likely during recovery.

  • Don’t Drink:Like certain medications, drinking alcohol causes blood to thin. Patients should avoid drinking alcohol for one week before and after their procedure. This decreases the chance of excessive bleeding during and after the procedure.

  • Don’t Look Into The Mirror Too Much: After a facelift, your face isn’t going to look too great. Avoid the mirror as much as you can so you aren’t discouraged from the bandaging, swelling, and bruising that happens after a facelift. Keep in mind that full results of a facelift are visible after these things go down which can take about a month or two.

  • Don’t Go Out In The Sun: Many people don’t know that exposing healing skin to the sun can enhance scarring. Exposing your incisions and the sensitive skin on and around your face can lead to scarring from your procedure. If you need to go outside for an extended period after the first week, use SPF 30 or higher to protect your skin.

  • Don’t Put On Any Potential Irritants: Makeup - creams wash, etc - no picking This should go without saying but, it’s better to cover all of our bases; do not put on any makeup, creams, cleansers, or any other facial or skincare products during the recovery phase of a facelift. No matter how long you’ve used a product or how much you think it’s going to help you, your face has just undergone a procedure and is a healing wound. You wouldn’t put makeup or skincare products on a wound anywhere else on your body, right? Your face shouldn’t be any different. These products can clog the incisions and lead to an infection that will be worse to heal from. During the recovery process, follow your surgeon’s instructions and only let the things they’ve approved touch the treated area(s).

Final Thoughts

Most of these tips mainly apply to the first week of a patient’s facelift recovery but can be carried out throughout the entire recovery process. The most important thing a patient can do is follow the instructions their surgeon has given them and if they have any questions, call their surgeon and ask. It’s always better to ask, even if you’ve done so a couple of times, than to do something you shouldn’t have and risk complications during the recovery process.

The first week of a patient’s recovery process is where they’ll experience the most discomfort, swelling, and bruising from the procedure. This is also a great time to really practice some mental and emotional self-care while your body takes care of the physical care.

The second week of a patient’s recovery process is when the patient will notice the swelling and bruising go down. Patient’s nerves should start to rev up by this time (if they experienced some numbness after the procedure) so some tingling or tightness might come about. If it continues, patients should consult with their surgeon. By the end of this week, patients should start to feel more like themselves but should still have caution when exerting energy.

The third and fourth weeks of a patient’s recovery process are where patients will notice that the majority of the swelling and bruising has either gone away or improved drastically. Results like contouring and lifting of the procedure should start to be visible. Stitching, or sutures of any kind, are removed during this time since the incisions should have mostly healed by now. Patients can resume moderately strenuous activities like going to the gym or any other actives they had put on hold.

By the second month of the patient’s recovery process, patients should be in tip-top shape. If you have any questions about the “Do’s” and “Don’t’s” on this list, contact your surgeon to see if they can apply to your unique situation. If you haven’t had a facelift but were wondering how the recovery process looked like and want more information on the procedure as a whole, contact Adore Plastic Surgery to schedule a consultation with our highly experienced surgeons!