Facelift And Recovery

These days, 50 is the new 40, and many men and women feel discouraged when they look in the mirror, because the face they see looking back at them seems older and more tired than they actually feel. If this is something you relate to, Plastic Surgery Group of Memphis can align how you feel and how you look with a facelift performed by one of our experienced plastic surgeons. Although a facelift isn’t able to stop the aging process, it can successfully slow it down, giving you a healthier and more youthful appearance. In the past, facelifts didn’t do much more than tighten the skin, resulting in an unnatural “windswept” appearance. A modern facelift combines fat restoration with judicial tightening of the skin to produce a natural look with minimal scarring that is hidden in front of and behind the ear.

Facelifts are one of the most common plastic surgery procedures performed in the United States, and it’s not hard to see why. Your face is the first thing people see, and it is particularly susceptible to the effects of time and gravity. When our faces lose volume, it’s often accompanied by sagging skin, pronounced wrinkles, and drooping jowls, all of which are common complaints associated with the aging process. As one of our most popular procedures, we see many patients eager to turn back the hands of time with a facelift. Many of the same questions come up repeatedly, and we have outlined a couple of them here in order to help you better understand what the procedures entails and what benefits it has to offer over other treatment options. For more information on how a facelift would work for your specific case, contact us for an individual consultation.

How does a facelift actually work?

Young woman with facelift

Put simply, 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 talented surgeons, Plastic Surgery Group of Memphis can help decide which available option is best for you.

Are there any nonsurgical options that can provide the same results as a facelift?

There are many nonsurgical options that exist as alternatives to the surgical facelift, and these can be helpful in minimizing the effects of aging. However, the results associated with procedures such as injections, laser treatments, and chemical peels just aren’t as long lasting. Although nonsurgical alternatives may help delay the need for a facelift, the effects won’t last forever. Many times, a patient will choose to pair a facelift with another treatment option in order to maximize the outcome. Some of those options are:

Eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty)

A blepharoplasty, or eyelid surgery, is probably the number one procedure to be performed in conjunction with a facelift. Many signs of aging appear first around the eyes, so this type of surgery is very popular among people who are just beginning to notice changes to their appearance. Upper eyelid surgery mostly consists of removing excess skin that can hang down onto the eyelashes, while the lower lid procedure involves the removal or repositioning of fat pockets, along with some skin and muscle tightening.

Brow lift

Brow lifts are another common surgery that is often done at the same time as a facelift. As the name implies, a brow lift elevates the brows, helping to reduce the frown lines between the eyebrows.  A more lateral brow lift can also be done with an extension of the facelift incisions, pulling up only the outer ends of the brows, without affecting the frown brow muscles.

Chin implants (augmentation genioplasty)

Chin augmentation can help improve the angle of the neck, as well as give more definition to the jaw line. In addition, chin implants can add projection and improve the contour of the chin for better facial balance. These can be inserted during a facelift using the same incision under the chin that’s used to tighten the neck muscles.  


Lines around the mouth often do not respond to a facelift. There are able to be treated at the same time with dermabrasion, a technique that brings to mind the sanding down of a rough board. Like a blepharoplasty and brow lift, skin resurfacing around the mouth is convenient to perform at the same time as a facelift since they are all in the same general area. After a dermabrasion or deep laser treatment, the skin is raw for a week or so until the skin cells grow back, and will then be pink for a few weeks until it heals completely.


Lip augmentation

Lip augmentation, also known as lip plumping, can be achieved at the same time as a facelift by using injectable filler. This procedure has rapidly become one of the leading injectable filler non-surgical treatments, with patients loving the beautiful, softer, and fuller lips it provides. Some patients have naturally thin lips, or gummy smile, while others will notice a loss of fullness or the appearance of fine lines as they age. Alcohol use and smoking can also contribute to decreased lip fullness and wrinkling. Injectable filler can smooth out the lines that go from the lip to the surrounding skin area. Lip filler can also be used to highlight and rejuvenate aging lips, and correct some asymmetries in the lips. Lip augmentation gives a natural result in the form of a more appealing smile that lasts anywhere from 6 to 18 months on average.

Other procedures

Procedures on other areas of the body can also be performed at the same time as a facelift, including liposuction, breast implants, and breast lifts. We generally recommend that more extensive surgeries such as a tummy tuck, thigh lift, or arm lift be done as a separate procedure unless the facelift is just a “mini-lift.” Cosmetic facial injections can also be done at the time of a facelift, most commonly using products like Juvederm or Restylane to reduce the appearance of fine lines. Fat injections can also be done for a more ‘natural’ filler.

How long will it take to recover from a facelift?

Recovery time from a facelift will always 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 a 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 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.

Natural, long-lasting results with Plastic Surgery Group of Memphis

The most successful facial plastic surgery result come from a trusting relationship that develops between you and your surgeon during your consultation and appointments. The consultation includes a complete facial analysis to determine the best procedure to give you the look you desire, and any questions or concerns you may have will be thoroughly addressed by one of our board certified surgeons.

If you are are a healthy adult looking to

  • restore definition of the jawline
  • tighten drooping skin around the neck
  • smooth out folds and deeper lines on the face
  • sculpt and reshape the cheekbones
  • eliminate loose skin
  • decrease or get rid of excess fat
  • or create a more attractive facial contour

Facelift surgery could benefit you! Contact our conveniently located Memphis office today to schedule your consultation with one of our experienced doctors. A beautiful, natural, long-lasting result could turn back the hands of time for you with just one call or click of the button.