Plastic Surgery
Face Lift Recovery: What's Normal and What Is Not
Feb 3, 2014 - 11:35:29 AM

( -With bruising and swelling being common occurrences following surgery, it can be difficult for patients to differentiate normal signs of recovery from those that are not normal and should be brought to your surgeon's attention.

Dr. Peter Hilger performs face lifts on an outpatient basis. The surgery takes approximately two or three hours to complete. During the surgery, an anesthesiologist is in the room for your safety. The surgery begins with incisions made above the ear in the hairline. This incision then travels down in front of the ear, around the earlobe, and behind the ear traveling back into the hairline. Once this incision is made, the skin is lifted from the tissue and muscle. Excess fat is removed from the cheeks and neck, muscle is tightened, and the skin is draped into place. Any excess skin is trimmed and the incisions are sutured or stapled shut. After a few hours recovering from anesthesia, you will go home for your face lift recovery.

Bruising and Swelling

Bruising and swelling are normal. They will decrease over 10 to 14 days. If you notice the bruises getting worse, call your surgeon. If the incision area looks bright red or shows any signs of pus, that often indicates an infection, and you must go see your surgeon. Infection is rare because your surgeon will give you a prescription for antibiotics when you leave his or her office. You also need to make sure you are following your surgeon's instructions on cleaning the incisions with peroxide twice a day and using Aquaphor to keep the skin from drying out.

Draining Incisions

It is normal to see some blood and fluid coming out of the surgical drains for the first day following your surgery. These drains help keep blood and fluid from pooling below the skin. While hematoma is rare and only happens in approximately three percent of all face lifts, it is a condition that needs treatment to prevent infection. If blood or fluids are still coming out of the drain after 24 hours have passed, call your facial plastic surgeon.


You will feel some discomfort following your face lift. The pressure bandages worn after the surgery are removed 24 hours later, which will help ease some of the tightness. You may still experience a tight sensation when you open your mouth, however. Pain is usually mild, possible moderate, but pain medications prescribed by your surgeon will help keep you comfortable. If the pain increases or seems severe, call your surgeon.

Fever or Chills

Fever is not normal after a face lift and should be mentioned to your facial plastic surgeon. Chills are another concerning sign that need to be addressed.


You may feel some numbness around the ears and on the neck for the first few weeks. Numbness tends to have resolved itself within four weeks. If you still feel numb after a month has passed, call your surgeon as a precaution.

It's crucial that you read your facial plastic surgeon's facelift post-op instructions and ask any questions before you leave the office. This will help you to quickly identify rare problems that may occur as you heal. Most patients heal without any complications, but it's always best to err on the side of caution and be aware of your risks.

Minnesota facial plastic surgeon, Dr. Peter Hilger, has served as president of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and holds the Dickinson Award from that organization for excellence in teaching. He has also been recognized by Castle Connolly in their highly regarded publication of America's Top Doctors. Read more about his honors and accomplishments at About Dr. Peter Hilger. To schedule a face lift consultation with Dr. Hilger, call his Edina, MN, office at (952) 844-0404.


For advertising and promotion on, call Mike McCurdy: 877-634-9180 or [email protected] We have over 7,000 journalists as subscribers.


© Copyright by