Recovery after face lift

A face lift procedure is carried out under general anaesthesia and comes with a variety of risks and possible complications which need weighing against the likely benefits of the surgery.

Patients will have the opportunity to discuss their concerns about recovery times, proper post-operative care, as well as pre-operative considerations, prior to their face lift.

Preparing for the surgery means also becoming familiar with the requirements of the recovery period. Careful preparation, a good rapport with the surgical team and a few adjustments to the home environment will make this event is a much more comfortable process, and shortens the time it takes to return to normal activities.

Sleeping position

Immediately after surgery and for several days, or even weeks in some cases, there will be anything between very mild and significant swelling and bruising to the face. Individuals vary significantly in the amount of bruising they experience after surgery, but patients that typically have treatment for high blood pressure needs to be meticulous about controlling it and possibly checking it more often to minimise the post-operative bruising.

Treatment of the bruises to speed up the recovery includes using tablets and cream with Arnica Montana, a homoeopathic treatment, or Hirudoid cream or gel.

Sleeping with a couple of pillows is the traditional advice given to help reduce the fluid that accumulates in the face and therefore the swelling after the surgery. However, equally productive seems to be sleeping on a flat surface, either without a pillow or just with a small neck roll. This has the effect of allowing the neck to stretch and reduces tightening in the tissues in area.

Cold compresses can also be used in the early stages after surgery to minimise the swelling.

Make-up and hair styling

Patients who undergo face lift surgery will have scars behind the ears in most cases, along with possible scars in the ears, in front of the ears, at the temples and possibly on the skin of the neck if a platysmaplasty was carried out simultaneously.

These scars, whilst generally very small, may affect the way a patient wishes to wear their hair after surgery and may also influence decisions on choices of cosmetics.

Once the sutures have been removed it is often possible for patients to use make-up to conceal bruises during the healing process.

Additional cosmetic interventions like dermabrasion or skin peels may be part of the procedure or follow shortly after the main operation.

Antibiotics & sutures

Prophylactic antibiotics are often used for a week or so for patients undergoing a face lift procedure as there is always a small risk of infection in association with surgery.

The risk of infection has been lowered considerably in recent years as improvements have been made to the operation but general precautions remain in place. When using antibiotics it is advisable to supplement your diet with probiotics either as drinks or tablets, to reduce the risk of antibiotic related diarrhoea. If diarrhoea does occur, it is important to stop the antibiotics immediately, and report the event to your surgeon.

Some people suffer with thrush when using antibiotics, and this can be treated during and after the course of antibiotics.

Sutures are usually removed after a week or so, unless other procedures have also been performed in which case these may be removed earlier or later. Some sutures dissolve over time and do not require removal in the clinic.

Returning to work and exercise

Depending on the extent of the procedure undertaken, a patient’s return to normal work routines and exercise can take from a week to several weeks.

Those with sedentary jobs, may find they can return to normal working activities fairly quickly, whereas those in active professions, or with significant exposure may require a longer period of time to be ready for work.

Gentle exercise is advised after surgery to help the healing process, with walking an excellent choice. Running, jogging, or other high impact activity is not suitable however until the patient has recovered fully from surgery and swimming is also to be avoided until the incision sites are fully healed so as to reduce the risk of infection.

Diet & lifestyle considerations

Patients undergoing face lift surgery will be given the same advice as most surgical patients, namely to cease smoking well in advance and maintain such behaviour after surgery, and eat a healthy and balanced diet to provide adequate nutrition for healing.

Smoking severely increases the risk of scarring as it affects blood flow, nutrient levels in the blood, tissue oxygenation, and collagen synthesis.

Other lifestyle considerations may include reductions in alcohol consumption, particularly where antibiotic or pain medications are being taken, and simply due to its dehydrating, inflammatory, and immune system suppressant actions.

Getting moving

Any surgery carried out under general anaesthetic increases the risks of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurring.

Patients are provided with surgical compression stockings and calf pumps to reduce these risks, along with medications where deemed necessary, but the most effective natural ways to lower the risk of blood clots forming in the deep leg veins after surgery include staying hydrated and getting moving quickly.

Even simple leg stretches and a short walk across the hospital room, can be helpful in keeping circulation healthy and reducing the risk of blood clots forming.

Where sedation is used instead of general anaesthesia, patients may be able to be up and about within hours after surgery is completed.


Just as it is important that patients follow guidance on changing bandages regularly it is also vital to adhere to the advice around washing the incisions after face lift surgery.

Good hygiene practices can help reduce the risk of infection and worse scarring and patients are advised not apply any moisturisers or lotions directly to the incision sites until fully healed.


In our practice, bandages after facelift are only used for the 1st night and will be removed prior to discharge from hospital.

Where additional procedures, such as eyelid surgery or neck lift surgery have been performed the small dressings are also used which need to be kept in place until the visit to the practice.

Elasticated compression garments are not usually recommended in our practice, to avoid excess pressure over the fragile skin under the ears.


Smoking after facelift surgery can be extremely damaging, and can lead to area is of skin necrosis, that will completely destroy the beauty of good facelift intervention and creates scars that are hard to correct.

It is very important to stop smoking completely at least 2 weeks prior to surgery and for 3 to 4 weeks after the operation in order to minimise the risk of skin damage with facelift surgery.

Get in touch. Talk to our helpful team or book a consultation with Mr Lucian Ion. Call 0207 486 7757

Book an appointment
Receive our newsletter