What to Expect During Your Facelift Recovery Period

If you’re considering a facelift, understanding what lies ahead post-surgery is as crucial as the procedure itself. A facelift, or rhytidectomy, is a popular cosmetic enhancement technique that rejuvenates and revitalizes your facial appearance. As of 2020, over 234,000 facelift procedures were performed in the U.S. We are guiding you through the recovery phase, so you know exactly what to expect and how to navigate it effectively.

Facelift Surgery Will be Individualized to Your Unique Cosmetic Needs

There are two main types of facelifts performed today including:

Traditional Facelift
A traditional facelift fully addresses signs of aging on the mid-face and neck. Incisions are located just behind the hairline, beginning near the temples and continuing around the front of the ear. The surgeon will reposition tissues beneath the skin and remove excess lax skin to eliminate creases and smooth the skin for a more youthful appearance.

Limited Incision Facelift
A limited incision facelift, also called a mini facelift, is a good option for those with a milder degree of sagging skin. This technique is less invasive than a traditional facelift, and incisions are shorter.

The First 24 Hours

Your journey begins right after surgery. Here’s what the immediate aftermath looks like:

  • Post-Surgery Care: You’ll likely spend a few hours in a recovery room where medical staff monitor your vital signs. Pain, swelling, and bruising are common but manageable with prescribed medication.
  • Return Home: Most patients can go home the same day, but you’ll need someone to drive you and stay with you for at least the first night.

The First Week

The first week is crucial for healing:

  • Swelling and Bruising: Expect significant swelling and bruising, which peaks around the second day before gradually subsiding. Sleeping with your head elevated helps reduce swelling.
  • Pain Management: Follow your surgeon’s advice on pain relief medications.
  • Limited Activities: Rest is key. Avoid strenuous activities and follow your surgeon’s guidelines on facial movements and care.

Weeks 2 and 3

You’ll start noticing visible changes:

  • Reducing Swelling: Swelling continues to decrease, allowing you to see the beginnings of your new look.
  • Return to Work: Many patients feel ready to return to work and light activities during this period.
  • Follow-Up Visits: These are essential to monitor your progress and address any concerns.

Week 4 and Beyond: Embracing Your New Look

This is the exciting part:

  • Noticeable Transformation: Most of the swelling and bruising will have subsided, revealing a more youthful and refreshed appearance.
  • Resuming Normal Activities: You can gradually return to your normal routine, including exercise, as advised by your surgeon.

Managing Expectations and Emotional Well-Being

It’s important to manage your expectations:

  • Initial Appearance: Don’t be alarmed if you don’t recognize yourself at first. Swelling and bruising can be significant initially.
  • Emotional Ups and Downs: It’s normal to feel a range of emotions. Give yourself time to adjust to your new look.
  • Support System: Lean on friends, family, or support groups for emotional support.

Ready to Take the Next Step? Choose North Valley Cosmetic Surgery

Recovering from a facelift is a journey that requires patience, care, and a good understanding of the healing process. By knowing what to expect and following your surgeon’s guidance, you can navigate this period with ease and confidence, ultimately embracing the rejuvenating results of your facelift. Remember, a successful recovery is just as important as the surgery itself in achieving the best possible outcomes.

If you’re considering a facelift and want expert care and outstanding results, look no further than North Valley Cosmetic Surgery. Our team and experienced head board-certified surgeon is dedicated to providing personalized care and achieving natural-looking results that exceed your expectations. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and start your journey to a refreshed, youthful appearance. Trust North Valley Cosmetic Surgery to be your partner in achieving the aesthetic transformation you desire.

Frequently Asked Questions About Facelift Recovery

What are the worst days after a facelift?

In the initial phase of recovery, the first few days after a facelift are typically the most challenging. Most patients experience the peak of their discomfort, swelling, and bruising during this period, particularly around the second and third days post-surgery. Therefore, it’s crucial to follow your surgeon’s care instructions closely during this time to effectively manage these symptoms.

How long do I have to sleep sitting up after a facelift?

After the surgery, it is generally recommended to sleep with your head elevated for about 1 to 2 weeks. This position helps significantly in reducing swelling and minimizes the risk of putting undue pressure on the healing incisions. Additionally, using extra pillows or a recliner can be quite beneficial during this recovery period.

When is pain worse after a facelift?

Initially, pain and discomfort are most pronounced within the first 48 to 72 hours after surgery. Consequently, your surgeon will prescribe pain medication to help manage this discomfort. Importantly, it’s essential to take these medications as directed. As the healing progresses, the pain should gradually decrease and become more manageable, with over-the-counter pain relief if necessary.

What are the do’s and don’ts after a facelift?

  • Follow Post-Op Instructions: Adhere strictly to your surgeon’s care guidelines.
  • Rest and Recover: Allow your body ample time to heal, avoiding strenuous activities.
  • Stay Hydrated and Eat Healthily: Good nutrition supports healing.
  • Attend Follow-up Appointments: Keep all appointments with your surgeon for proper monitoring of your recovery.


  • Avoid Smoking and Alcohol: These can hinder the healing process.
  • Skip Medications: Always take prescribed medications as directed.
  • Expose Incisions to Sunlight: Protect your skin to prevent scarring.
  • Rush the Recovery Process: Be patient with your body’s healing timeline.