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Surgeon hand drawing marks on female face for plastic operation

The Reality of Facial Plastic Surgery: What, When, How

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, more than 125,000 facelifts were performed last year. Both women and men want to look their very best, and with new techniques and technology, facial plastic surgery is a viable option. Yet there are a few things to consider first.

The results can vary from what you expect. When deciding whether or not to have cosmetic facial plastic surgery, you should hope for the best, expect the usual, and be aware of the worst when it comes to post-surgical recovery. And don’t overlook smaller, additional procedures such as earlobe rejuvenation that can be performed at the time of your facelift.

Ultimately, the sags and bags, the loose and the displaced, will improve. However, during the journey, nearly everyone experiences varying degrees of swelling, bruising, numbness, tightness, altered sensation and fatigue. (If a facial plastic surgeon tells you that none of this will occur, they’re not being honest and just trying to sell you on the operation!) The good news is that any discomfort or unsightliness will resolve in time.

What to Expect After Surgery


Immediately after facial plastic surgery — the first 24 hours — there will be a dressing in place that will feel tight. What you’re feeling is the actual tightening of the tissue from the surgery, some is from the dressing. The first day after surgery, the dressing will be removed; this will make you feel more comfortable.

Skin color

Skin in front of the ear and in the upper neck near the ear will be numb. There will also be some bruising — from almost none at all to a great deal. It may be pink or purple. If pink, it will disappear within five to 10 days. If purple to black in color, it will take a bit longer — from 14 to 21 days. During this time, a green discoloration will develop on the upper chest, which usually resolves within five days.


Altered sensation, numbness and tightness of the skin will improve gradually, with complete resolution occurring between six to 12 months after surgery. This is so gradual that some of my patients aren’t even aware of when it returns to normal.


All the sutures on the surface of the skin should fall out within two weeks. No sutures will need to be removed. The sutures under the skin begin to dissolve at six weeks, but can take up to 12 weeks to completely go away. They shouldn’t be noticeable. Occasionally, they will extrude rather than dissolve. If this happens, you’ll simply return to our office in Tampa to have them removed. Most facial plastic surgery patients will experience this with one or two sutures on each side.

When to Get Up and Go

How soon can you get back to work after a facelift? Or start socializing? You can begin going about your daily activities as early as you feel like it — that’s usually around day three. Most patients have a lot of energy by about five days post-op. Being active as soon as you’re comfortable is encouraged, as it reduces the risk of complications and will make you feel better.


Give yourself three weeks for more strenuous activities like running or cycling. Prefer something a bit more athletic? Wait six weeks before beginning resistance workouts and weightlifting.


If you have a behind-the-desk job, I’d recommend waiting 10 to 14 days before returning to work. If you work in sales, make public appearances, or are on your feet a lot, give yourself two to three weeks.

Social engagements

If you’re the parent of a bride or groom, I suggest giving yourself a full three months for recovery. While you’ll look normal within four to six weeks, you’ll still be uncomfortable in your skin and that might affect your interaction with guests. Before other formal activities, you should allow four to six weeks.

How to Care for Your Skin

The goal is a refreshed and rejuvenated appearance that makes you look years younger. Of course, while this makes a dramatic difference, you’ll still have to take good care of yourself for the best long-term result. Continued skin care, a healthy lifestyle, physical activity and possible non-surgical treatments are in order – you can check out more specific tips here. Think of them like continuing to brush your teeth after a cleaning at the dentist — one doesn’t eliminate the need for the other.

If you have questions or concerns about facial plastic surgery — or you’re ready to take the next step — call Farrior Facial Plastic Surgery at 813-875-3223 or book your appointment online today. Be sure to ask about our non-surgical rejuvenation procedures like the vampire lift too!