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Our faces are particularly susceptible to the effects of time and gravity, resulting in sagging skin, pronounced wrinkles, and drooping jowls as we age and our faces lose volume. Facelifts are one of our most popular procedures, as it allows us to turn back the hands of time by

  • Restoring definition to the jawline
  • Tightening drooping skin around the neck
  • Smoothing out folds and deeper lines on the face
  • Sculpting and reshaping the cheekbones
  • Eliminating loose skin
  • Decreasing or eliminating excess fat
    and creating a more attractive facial contour.

(For more information on how a facelift would work for your specific case, contact us for an individual consultation.)

How does a facelift work?

A facelift works by readjusting facial tissues that have slipped due to aging and gravity, sometimes by removing excess skin, giving the face a smoother appearance. Although it is a common misconception, a facelift isn’t one specific procedure, but rather a group of surgical options that look to remedy a similar set of issues. For example, a traditional facelift, also known as an SMAS facelift, tightens both the skin and the layer of muscle that lies immediately underneath the facial surface. By scheduling a consultation with one of our board certified surgeons, Plastic Surgery Group of Memphis can help decide which available option is best for you.

How long will it take to recover from a facelift?

Recovery time from a facelift will vary from person to person, but as a general rule, noticeable swelling will be reduced by about 10 days after surgery, with most patients able to return to work after two weeks. However, it is important to understand that a facelift is major plastic surgery, and as with any surgery, there is a lengthy recovery process.

The following timeline is a generalized view of what to expect from your recovery process following facelift surgery.

Day one:
In these first 24 hours, you should avoid any excessive activity and consider yourself on bedrest. We recommend you sleep with your head elevated on two or more pillows for the first two weeks to help reduce excessive swelling.

A light bandage may be placed around your face to minimize swelling and bruising, along with small drainage tubes to drain excess fluid. Most patients will experience only mild pain due to the steps we take before your surgery to minimize it. You will usually be prescribed an over-the-counter painkiller such as Tylenol to reduce pain, and to promote faster recovery time with less discomfort. When you are ready to go home, you will need to have someone drive you, or our office may be able to organize someone to accompany you.

Week one:
After your first 24 hours, we encourage you to get out of bed and move around slowly to get your circulation moving, which in turn speeds up your recovery and healing time. Small trips to the bathroom or around the house are fine, but don’t overdo it. You will likely still be feeling quite fatigued. Ideal activities for this first week may be to watch TV sitting up in bed, reading quietly, or performing very light housework.

You may experience slightly more swelling and bruising in the first few days after surgery, peaking at about three or four days, and subsiding within the second week. As your healing progresses, you may experience temporary facial bumps, bulges, or mild asymmetries, along with feelings of tingling and numbness. This is a natural part of the healing process, along with itching sensations in your incisions. Take care to follow all post-op instructions to ensure you heal correctly and in a timely manner.

Weeks 2 and 3:
By about 2 weeks, most of the swelling will be gone, but you may still have some mild bruising and swelling around the eyes, behind the ears, or on the sides of your face and neck. Keep your physical activity levels light, and avoid any strenuous physical activity such as working out. You may feel like returning to work after the second week, and this is typically fine as long as your job doesn’t involve any physical exertion.

Towards the end of the third week, you should notice a significant improvement in the quality of your facial skin and incisions, though some mild itching and numbness may remain. Any bruising should be completely healed by this time, and any swelling minimal.

Weeks 4+:
By one month post op, almost all your swelling or bruising should have dissipated, and no one should be able to tell that you’ve had any plastic surgery done. Your incisions will be mostly healed, though they may still appear pink in color for a while yet. During this time it is important to stay out of direct sunlight and be sure you wear sunscreen to protect your skin. At this point, you should be able to resume all your normal activities, while still refraining from heavy exercise until six weeks post-op.

Months 1-12:
The final outcome of your facelift will become fully evident over the next 12 months, as your face fully heals and settles into its final result. Over the months, you’ll likely notice the subtle shifts as your facelift heals and your appearance rejuvenates.

The most successful facelift results come from a trusting relationship that develops between you and your surgeon during your consultation and appointments. Schedule your consultation today for a complete facial analysis to determine the best procedure to give you the look you desire.