Many of the concerns patients express during their facelift consultations have to do with the recovery. That’s understandable, because — unlike body contouring or breast enhancement procedures — the signs that you had facelift surgery are plainly visible during the recovery. The good news is that the recovery process following a facelift, even if it’s combined with a brow lift or eyelid surgery at my Toronto practice, is usually more comfortable than patients expect.
Recovering following any facial plastic surgery procedure includes physical recovery and what some people call a social recovery. That’s the time needed before a patient is comfortable with going out in public again, such as returning to work or attending informal social settings on the weekend.
Returning to the physical recovery, there are a few things that you can expect to experience after surgery.
- Swelling: This will probably be the most severe during the first 2 to 4 days after the surgery. Swelling begins to dissipate after the first week in most cases, and by 2 weeks, it has mostly subsided for the majority of patients. Of course, each patient heals at a different pace, and noticeable swelling may last longer.
- Bruising: Bruising is most common around the incision areas. For facelift patients, this is around the ears. Adding another procedure will expand the areas of initial bruising. If you combine the procedure with eyelid surgery, for example, bruising around the eyes is perfectly normal. The bruising and swelling after facelift surgery can look especially prominent because of the complex network of vascular structures in the face.
- Pain: Facelift patients are often pleasantly surprised that there is less discomfort than anticipated. Prescription medication manages the discomfort in the first few days after the procedure — and after that, most patients report only minimal residual pain, or that they only feel pain when touching their faces.
Surgery (of any kind) also demands time for you to rest, and that calls for an adjustment in your activity level. You should avoid strenuous activities for at least a month after facelift surgery, but I do encourage patients to take walks as early as the first day after the procedure. Walking helps promote good circulation, which is an important part of the healing process. It’s also important to follow the postoperative instructions for incision care.
Finally, it’s fairly common for patients to combine a facelift procedure with a brow lift or eyelid surgery for a comprehensive facial rejuvenation. Thankfully, combining procedures doesn’t make the recovery last twice as long, but there will be additional swelling and bruising near the incision sites specific to those procedures.
Ultimately, patients overwhelmingly agree that the long-lasting results of facial plastic surgery outweigh the temporary inconvenience and discomfort associated with the recovery.