Social vs. Physical Downtime After a Facelift

An image of a calendar of someone who is planning ahead for a facelift.

Patients often plan to get a facelift in the Phoenix area when they have a big social event, such as a son or daughter’s wedding or a class reunion, coming up. We always advise patients to plan ahead because social recovery can last longer than the physical recovery timeline.

Social recovery is the time needed to ensure that any lingering side effects of surgery have completely disappeared, and the final results of a facelift have appeared. Many patients may feel comfortable returning to work a couple of weeks after facial plastic surgery but still feel self-conscious when they want to look their best.

In this blog post, I’ve provided an approximate recovery timeline for facelift patients. This timeline includes both the physical and social downtime involved. I emphasize these are estimated times, and each patient’s recovery is unique.

  • 0-10 days after facelift: You’ll probably want to avoid seeing friends or co-workers during the first week or so after getting a facelift. I often apply a large dressing immediately after the surgery to help minimize swelling and replace it about a day later. Even though you should limit activities during this stage, it’s important to walk around the house starting the day after the surgery to enhance the healing process.
  • 10 days to 3 weeks after facelift: At this point, most facelift patients feel pretty much back to normal but may still have some bruising and swelling around the incision sites. Many patients return to work and feel comfortable going to the store and being out in public generally. Using makeup and styling hair differently are good ways to camouflage any signs of surgery.
  • 3 to 12 weeks after facelift: In most cases, the results of a facelift improve with each passing day. A person’s comfort level attending a class reunion, wedding, or other significant social event varies, but by 6 weeks post-op, most facelift patients have no residual signs of surgery. Results that look good after a month tend to look even better after 3 months.

Before surgery, building in time to schedule consultations with at least 2 or 3 plastic surgeons is also necessary, along with the time needed for scheduling the surgery after choosing a surgeon. It’s never a good idea to feel pressured to choose a surgeon because of a looming deadline. Ideally, it’s best to start the process about 6 months before an event (which also allows some time for any minor complications to resolve).

If that kind of time frame isn’t possible for some reason, consider nonsurgical treatments such as a “liquid facelift” using BOTOX® Cosmetic and fillers to produce effective, but temporary, results. They can’t match the more dramatic and long-lasting results of a facelift, as you can see in our gallery of before-and-after photos, but nonsurgical treatments are a viable alternative.

If you’re looking in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area for a facelift specialist, you can contact our office using the online form or call us at (480) 214-9955 to schedule an appointment.

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