Facelift Recovery Timeline: How Long It Takes to Heal

Medically Reviewed By Catherine Hannan, M.D.
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Facelift recovery times vary from person to person. Following your surgeon’s instructions can help reduce your recovery time. Many people can resume work and most of their usual activities about 2 weeks after a facelift. However, some people may take longer to recover.

It is possible to aid your own recovery by carefully following your surgeon’s care instructions.

This article discusses how long it typically takes to recover from a facelift. It also includes tips for recovery.

How long does facelift recovery take? 

Female touching her face
Studio Firma/Stocksy United

Following the facelift procedure, your surgeon will typically apply bandages in order to reduce the swelling. They may also use tubes to help draw off excess fluid and blood.

It typically takes 2–4 weeks to recover from a facelift. It is generally recommended that you take this time off of work in order to aid your recovery.

Days 1 and 2

The first few days after a facelift are typically the most difficult. You may feel sleepy, groggy, and uncomfortable. Ideally, you should have a friend or family member available to assist you for a day or two. This person can help you get home after surgery, manage household tasks while you rest, and get you to and from your postoperative appointments.  

At your initial postoperative appointment, which is usually the day after your surgery, your physician will:

  • check your incisions
  • check any drains
  • change your bandages

They may also give you additional directions for at-home care.

Days 3 and 4

You may begin to feel more like yourself on days 3 and 4, but you typically will not look much like yourself.

Bruising and swelling tend to peak 3–4 days after surgery. However, swelling sometimes increases even after the 4-day mark.

You may find it surprising to see bruises on your neck and chest a few days after surgery. However, that is typical, and it occurs because gravity pulls excess blood downward.

Numbness, tingling, and itchiness around your incisions are also typical. These sensations generally resolve over a period of a few weeks, though it may take several months for the numbness to fully subside. 

Read six self-care tips for after surgery here.

End of the first week

As you near the end of your first postoperative week, you will typically begin to feel more comfortable.

That said, you may continue to experience:

  • swelling
  • bruising
  • numbness
  • tingling
  • facial tightness

However, these symptoms should gradually lessen over time.

2–4 weeks after the surgery

Your doctor will generally remove your stitches 1–3 weeks after your surgery.

Most people are able to manage light household tasks 2 weeks after their surgery, and many people can return to work at this time. That said, people who have very physical jobs or jobs that require many face-to-face meetings may need some additional time at home before resuming work. 

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, “you should be back to doing normal activities and enjoying life with your new look” after the 1-month postoperative mark.

Tips for facelift recovery  

To aid your recovery, you should closely follow your doctor’s or surgeon’s instructions. These may include the following: 

  • Rest with your head elevated for at least 1–2 days after surgery.
  • Apply ice packs to your face for 10–20 minutes at a time to reduce swelling and decrease pain.
  • Follow all of your doctor’s or surgeon’s wound care instructions.
  • Do not put lotions or ointments on your incisions unless your doctor or surgeon tells you to.
  • Do not use makeup until your doctor or surgeon says it is OK to do so.
  • Avoid strenuous physical activity for at least 3 weeks.
  • Avoid sun exposure for at least 3 weeks.
  • Do not pick at your incisions.
  • Do not use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol on your incisions or face, as these solutions can inhibit healing.

When to call your doctor

Call your doctor right away if you notice:

  • symptoms of infection, including increased discoloration, swelling, or foul smelling discharge
  • loose stitches or an open incision
  • bleeding from an incision 

You need emergency care if you:

Getting prompt medical attention may prevent complications that could delay healing and facelift recovery. 

Read about the warning signs of an infection after surgery here.


Facelift recovery time will vary from person to person.

After your procedure, you should

carefully follow all of your doctor’s or surgeon’s instructions. This is the best way for you to have a successful recovery.

Most people fully recover from a facelift within 1 month of the surgery. However, it generally takes a little longer to see the full results of the procedure.

If you notice symptoms of infection, lose consciousness, or feel short of breath, contact your doctor immediately.

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Medical Reviewer: Catherine Hannan, M.D.
Last Review Date: 2022 Apr 28
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