Center for Plastic Surgery
1945 Old Gallows Road, Suite 400
Tysons Corner, VA 22182
Phone: (703) 560-2850
Monday - Friday: 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

Center for Plastic Surgery
5550 Friendship Blvd, Suite 130
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
Phone: (301) 652-7700
Monday - Friday: 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

Your Facelift Recovery Timeline


Facelift surgery is an excellent way to fight the signs of aging. It can help patients restore a youthful look by lifting and rejuvenating the face. Because the procedure adjusts many soft and delicate tissues, though, it often requires a notable recovery period.

With that recovery time in mind, many facelift patients at our Washington, DC-area practice want to know how they can heal as quickly and safely as possible. In this blog post, we’ll outline the typical recovery timeline you can expect after surgery.

Facelift surgery: what to expect

Facelift surgery is usually an outpatient procedure performed with a general anesthetic or a local anesthetic with sedation. To begin, the surgeon makes incisions behind the hairline. These incisions are then used to lift and reposition the layers of tissue beneath the skin to create a more youthful appearance.

Other nonsurgical treatments, such as laser resurfacing or chemical peels, are often paired with a facelift to smooth out wrinkles and improve skin texture. When combined, these procedures can take years off your appearance.

Your facelift recovery timeline

  • Week 1: Be sure to have a caregiver for the first 24 hours after surgery. Bruising and swelling will peak around 3 to 4 days post-op. Get plenty of rest and go easy on your body during this time. A few days after surgery, you should have the energy to move around the house as you like.
  • Week 2: Some patients start experiencing tingling or tightness around the face. These sensations are perfectly normal side effects as your tissues and nerves adjust to their new positions. Bruising will begin to fade, and swelling will slightly subside. Avoid any strenuous physical activity during this time, although gentle movement (such as walking) is allowed.
  • Week 3 & 4: At this point in the process, your incisions will start to improve. Swelling and bruising are much better as your skin begins to settle. Most patients return to work or social events at this time. Exercise can also be resumed, although vigorous activities (such as weight lifting or intense cardio) should still be postponed.
  • Week 5 & 6: Recovery is nearly complete! Patients can resume all normal activities as the tissues return to their relatively normal state. Some residual bruising or swelling can persist for the next couple of months. But these changes are very subtle, and you can safely return to your everyday life.

Trust in the process

Staying patient during recovery isn’t always easy. But by taking good care of your body, you can enjoy the results of your surgery as soon as possible. Be sure to keep your head elevated during sleeping to prevent excessive swelling. Maintain a healthy diet, and follow your doctor’s post-op instructions regarding medication or ointments.

Understanding the facelift recovery process helps you give your body the support it needs so you can enjoy your results as soon as possible. Browse our facelift before-and-after photos to see examples from former patients. And if you have any plastic surgery questions for our Washington, DC surgeons, request a consultation online or call (703) 560-2850 (Annandale) or (301) 652-7700 (Chevy Chase).

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