Recovering From a Facelift: Truth or Myth

By Ramsey J. Choucair, M.D.

There are often questions surrounding the recovery from a facelift. An accurate estimate of the convalescence or downtime is important to individuals who are contemplating having a surgical facelift.

Determining a reasonable time to return to social activities, work responsibilities and exercise pursuits is factored into any decision to undergo cosmetic facial surgery. Thus, there are several factors that contribute to the recovery from a facelift.

First, the proper definition of a “facelift” is necessary.

A “mini-facelift” with limited incisions leads to a slightly quicker recovery than a typical “lower face and necklift”. A “mini-facelift” is recommended for aging limited to the lower face with jowl prominence and minimal neck aging.

The lower face and necklift is the most common procedure and addresses aging of the lower face and jowl along with rejuvenation of the entire aging neck. Performing eyelid surgery in addition to a facelift requires a longer recovery. Facial volume restoration utilizing fillers or fat injections may also lead to increased swelling and possible bruising not regularly seen with a facelift alone.


Re-do face and necklifts surprisingly result in relatively prompt convalescence in most cases.

Second, additional factors affecting recovery from any type of facelift include genetic skin type, existing sun damaged skin, thickness of the skin, fat content in the neck and medications.

Third, perhaps the most important component affecting facelift recovery is the surgeon’s gentle and precise handling of the facial and neck skin. Delicate manipulation of facial tissue results in less swelling and bruising but necessitates greater time. While operative expediency is valued, speed is not the primary goal of a facelift. Remember that a natural restoration of a youthful appearance with minimum recuperation is the goal for patient and surgeon alike.

The following is a brief, general guideline of recovery times with the understanding that recovery times vary among individuals.