Facelift Procedure: Possible Complications And Recovery


A facelift procedure (rhytidectomy in medical jargon) is a type of aesthetic surgery aimed at giving a more youthful appearance to the face. The procedure is mainly carried out in the lower half of a person’s face, along the jowls or the jaw line and it seeks to remove sagging skin around the area and accumulated fat around the neck and under the chin. The procedure also helps to either remove or tighten the deep creases that form around the nose and mouth as we start to age.

A facelift procedure is often combined with one or more number of other surgeries aimed at enhancing the appearance of the eyelids, brows, cheeks and forehead. In this article, we will discuss the possible complications that can issue from a facelift surgery and the recovery.


A facelift surgery is considered a safe one and complications, if any, are not too frequent. However, it is to one’s best interest that one engages the service of an experienced surgeon with good track record in this field. This will help minimize the risks of possible complications.

All the same, one must understand that any surgery involves an amount of risk and if you do suffer from certain complications post-surgery, there is no reason to panic. Almost all patients experience some complications and a majority of these are only temporary (See the RECOVERY section). However, certain complications are symptomatic of conditions like hematoma and infection. So, if you suffer from those complications, you should seek immediate medical help.

Here’s a list of some of the most common complications reported by people who have done a facelift procedure:

• Bruising and bleeding
• Tissue death or skin necrosis
• Numbness or dizziness (normally goes away a few weeks after the operation)
• Scarring
• Thickening or widening of scars
• Damage to certain facial nerves (usually temporary and resolves within a few weeks of the operation)
• Fever
• Redness or swelling, pain, inflammation

Most of these issues commonly resolve with time. If they persist for too long, you should contact your surgeon. However, if you suffer from fever/high fever immediately after surgery and if continues for more than two days, this is a sign of possible infection. On the other hand, redness, inflammation and pain could be signs of hematoma. In both the above cases, you should seek immediate medical help.


Recovery usually takes about two weeks, although full recovery can take anything between 8-10 weeks. However, after 4 weeks, you can resume your normal routine including engaging in vigorous activities such as workouts, etc.

As for bruising, bleeding and swelling—they will reach peak after 48 hours of the surgery and can potentially persist for a few days. However, these and other common discomforts will be partly relieved by following the prescribed medication for recovery.

You must see to it that bandages and incisions are kept dry and should follow the washing and bathing instructions of the doctor.

Sutures will get removed 5-10 days post surgery.

As for muscle stiffness and numbness/dizziness, they will go away after 2-3 weeks. Scars, however, are a different proposition. Depending on the patient, these can take close to a year to tone down and fade.

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