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What is the Recovery Process after a Facelift like?

by | Jan 3, 2014 | Blog, Facelift

Before undergoing any type of surgery, it is important to know what to expect after the procedure. Planning out the recovery process in advance can make this period of time go smoother, ensuring that your healing process is as comfortable and fast as possible. In fact, you may want to consider setting up an area of your home beforehand so that you can recover comfortably after your facelift. Are you wondering what to expect during this time? Here’s what the facelift recovery process is like:

 Immediately After Surgery

Facelift procedures require general anaesthesia, so you will not be awake during the surgery. As the anaesthesia wears off, it is common to feel groggy and tired. You may also be nauseous or confused. Know that these effects are to be expected, and should wear off quickly. Most patients are able to return home the same day as the surgery, though you will not be able to drive yourself.

In the first few days, side effects are common. The initial recovery period is usually accompanied by swelling and bruising, which may extend into the eye region, giving you swollen “black eyes.” You may also experience bleeding and redness. Tenderness and discomfort are common, but can usually be controlled with pain medications.

Because of how the facelift surgery is performed, temporary skin numbness is also possible. Many patients report skin tightness, especially in the area around the incisions, as the tissues heal and adjust to their new contours.

Surgical Dressing

After a facelift, the treated area will be wrapped with surgical gauze and bandages. Follow DrMarcells guidelines regarding changing these surgical dressings. They are intended to control swelling and hold the tissues close to the body, helping them adjust to the new contours. There are also sutures used to close the incisions. Some dissolve on their own, while others will need to be removed at the follow-up appointment. Do not attempt to remove these on your own, and only change the surgical dressings as requested to do so by Dr Marcells.

Healing Time

Most patients take two to four weeks away from work and other obligations. During the first few days, focus on getting plenty of rest, and avoid returning to your normal activity level too quickly. Strenuous exercise should be avoided for at least six weeks.

While the initial recovery phase is over in a matter of weeks, your face may continue to change slightly for up to a year following the surgery. The results are permanent, though a facelift cannot prevent your face from continuing to age naturally. Most patients report that the results of their facelift have remained visible for at least a decade.


During the recovery process, it is important to avoid disturbing the facial tissues. Wear button-down shirts, and sleep with several pillows to elevate your head. Avoid brushing or blow-drying your hair, vigorously scrubbing your skin, or any other activities that could irritate the incisions or your facial skin. Avoid hot saunas, direct sunlight, and alcohol consumption. For optimum recovery, follow any additional precautions provided by DrMarcells.


Many patients find that swelling obscures the results of their facelift for several weeks. In addition to the precautions listed above, there are additional ways to reduce swelling. Drink plenty of water, eat a healthy, low-sodium diet, and keep your head and neck elevated at all times. Tell DrMarcells about any medications you are taking, as some can interfere with fluid balance and exacerbate swelling.


Since facelift surgery does require incisions in the skin, scarring is a possibility. Incisions are typically positioned to minimise scarring. Most incisions are made behind the hairline or in front of the ears, for example. Over the year following surgery, expect these incision lines to turn pink, then fade into the skin surrounding them.

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Meet Dr Marcells

Past President – Australasian Academy of Facial Plastic Surgeons

Dr George Marcells is known for excellence in facial plastic surgery and is considered a true master of rhinoplasty. He performs advanced surgical techniques to restore balance and harmony to the face and can also resolve functional issues such as breathing difficulties.

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