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What to Expect & How to Boost Your Recovery after a Facelift

Mature woman bundled in a sweater outside.

Before your facelift, it’s helpful to have an idea of what your recovery will be like so you can start to prepare. If you’re not quite sure what to expect after a facelift, take a look at these top tips for a speedy and efficient recovery.

1. You’ll Have Some Swelling

Some amount of swelling and bruising after a facelift is inevitable, but there are lots of things you can do to help minimize these side effects. If your plastic surgeon sends you home with a special compression garment to wear, be sure to wear it. You should also keep your head elevated as much as possible for the first few weeks after your procedure. Sleep propped up on a few pillows or try relaxing in a recliner.

Applying a cold pack to the swollen or bruised area can be helpful, but don’t do this for more than about 20 minutes at a time. Place a towel or other barrier between your skin and the ice pack.

2. Keep Physical Activity to a Minimum

For the first week or two after facial plastic surgery, you’ll need to limit your physical activity. If you’re feeling up to it, you can walk around the house or even take a light walk around the block as you continue to heal, but check in with your plastic surgeon before doing anything more strenuous.

Most people take anywhere from 10 days to two weeks off work to heal from a facelift.

3. Avoid Using a Hot Blow Dryer

It’s important that you keep your incisions dry and clean, so your plastic surgeon might recommend waiting 24 to 48 hours after your facelift to shower or wash your hair. Once you get the okay to do so, avoid using a warm blow dryer to dry your hair. Instead, let it air or towel dry, or use the cool setting on your blow dryer. Heat and swelling don’t mix well, since the heat causes your blood vessels to dilate, which can make swelling and bruising worse.

4. Wait 2 to 3 Weeks to Wear Makeup

Generally speaking, most people are able to start applying foundation and light makeup around 3 weeks after their facelift, but check with your plastic surgeon for specific guidelines. At this point, you should be feeling more comfortable and able to resume your social activities. Concealer should be able to hide most bruising and redness.

5. Stay out of the Sun

Staying out of the sun might not be too hard if you plan your facelift recovery for the winter months in Boston. But if you’re planning a winter trip to Florida, for instance, you’ll want to keep your sun exposure to a minimum for several months after your facelift. This is because the sun’s UV rays can interfere with your body’s healing process and may make the appearance of scars worse.

If you have to go out in the sun after plastic surgery, wear SPF on your face. Ask your plastic surgeon for his or her recommendations on the best type of sunscreen to use post-facelift.

6. See Continued Results over the Next Year

By around weeks two and three after your facelift, you should be able to go back out in public without anyone being able to tell you’ve had surgery. The majority of swelling is usually gone by around the three-month mark, and you should continue to see gradual improvements over the next 12 months.

In the years following your facelift, maintain healthy lifestyle habits to prolong your great results.


What to Expect & How to Boost Your Recovery after a Facelift
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What to Expect & How to Boost Your Recovery after a Facelift
Not sure what to expect after a facelift? Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Waleed Ezzat of Boston, Massachusetts shares six top tips to boost healing.
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January 7, 2019
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