The big reunion….a wedding…an important media event…these types of upcoming events often are the catalyst that prompts a visit to the plastic surgeon to discuss the pros and cons of having a facelift. Among the first questions asked always involves a discussion on how much time to set aside for the recovery process.

The answer to that question depends on the amount of work being done, and the patient’s natural ability to heal but one thing is certain; there is no such thing as a weekend lift or other such procedure that promises little to no recovery time. A skillfully done facelift will require some weeks of healing time and the better prepared you are to navigate the recovery process, the better the outcome.


As a board certified and fellowship trained plastic surgeon, Dr. Sukkar recommends his patients arrange at least 2 weeks of uninterrupted recovery time to ensure they achieve the best results possible.

A modern day facelift, or rhytidectomy, has evolved considerably from the early methods of simply removing excess facial skin and stretching it over the face. Without lifting and repositioning the underlying muscles, the skin soon sags under the weight of the non-supportive muscles. Incision closing techniques have evolved considerably as well providing patients with beautiful, discrete results.

Initial recovery takes about 2 weeks before patients feel comfortable being seen in public, although the recovery process continues for several months. The first 2 weeks will be the most intense in terms of necessary actions such as applying cool packs, caring for incisions, modifying hygiene routines and dealing with surgical drains.


There will be a certain amount of swelling and bruising which will increase up to day 4 after which dramatic improvement is usually seen and felt over the following 3 days. Swelling can be uniform or can be more pronounced on one side of the face. Cool compresses greatly help diminish swelling and bruising and should be used constantly during the first 3 days. It is important to sleep slightly elevated which will help reduce swelling and help fluids drain out of the surgical site.

Pain from facelift surgery is reported as less than expected and most patients are off prescription pain medication after the first few days. The biggest complaint is the tightness created by swelling but again, this diminishes fairly quickly particularly if cool compresses are used as directed.

During the first week, driving is not recommended. It is prohibited completely as long as the patient is on prescription pain medication. There can be stiffness in the neck which hinders the ability to turn your head and until this passes you should have someone else handle driving tasks.

There will be small drains placed just behind the ears to allow excess fluid to drain which helps diminish swelling and bruising caused by pooling blood. There will also be dressings on the incisions and you may have both dissolvable and non-dissolvable sutures which will be removed usually at the first visit.


After the first 10 days, most patients feel comfortable running quick errands or seeing close friends. After two weeks most of the obvious (to others) bruising and swelling will be gone and strategically placed makeup will cover any remaining bruising. While the outward signs of surgery will be mostly gone after 2 weeks, you will feel your facial tissues settle over the next few months and may experience random swelling as healing makes progress. 


If you want to look your best for that important event, schedule your facelift at least a month to 6 weeks in advance. Unless you have had facial plastic surgery in the past, there is no definite guarantee of a healing schedule. While you will be comfortable going back to work or seeing friends after two weeks or so, being ready for the camera or the scrutiny of classmates who you haven’t seen for years will require a bit more time.

The most important part of recovering from a facelift is following the instructions given to you by your plastic surgeon. As a board certified and fellowship trained plastic surgeon, Dr. Sukkar has performed countless facial surgical procedures. His recommendations cover years of experience in helping his patients recover from their procedures without complications quickly and beautifully.

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