Skip to main content

Face Lift

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

What do I need to know about a face lift?

A face lift, or rhytidectomy, is surgery to remove signs of aging. It can tighten the skin and the underlying tissues of your face and neck.

How do I prepare for a face lift?

  • Your surgeon will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. He or she may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery.
  • You may be told to stop certain medicines 2 weeks before surgery. He or she will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your surgery.
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home and stay with you for at least 1 night.
  • You may not be able to have surgery if you have a history of smoking. You will need to stop smoking for several months before and after surgery.

What will happen during a face lift?

  • You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. You may instead be given local anesthesia to numb the surgery area. With local anesthesia, you will also be given sedation to keep you relaxed and sleepy.
  • A large incision will be made near your hairline on the side of your forehead. It will extend downward around the front of your ear and circle behind your earlobe. Another incision may be made below your chin. You may need other incisions in different areas. Your surgeon will gently lift your skin and remove or reposition fat and skin in your cheeks and chin. He or she will also tighten the skin between your cheekbones and eyes.
  • A drain may be placed remove extra fluid from the surgery area. The incisions may be closed with stitches or staples. A bandage will be placed around your head to cover your ears and chin. It will not cover your eyes, ears, nose, or mouth.

What will happen after a face lift?

  • You may stay in the surgery center or hospital for up to 2 nights. If you go home after surgery, you will need to return the next day.
  • You will need to keep your head and upper back elevated with pillows or rest in a recliner.
  • Keep cold packs on your face as much as possible the first 72 hours after surgery.
  • The bandages will be removed the first day after surgery. The drain is usually removed the first or second day after surgery. The stitches and staples may be removed 1 to 2 weeks after surgery.
  • You will have a lot of swelling and bruising for at least 2 weeks after surgery. It takes about 6 months to see the final result of surgery.

What are the risks of a face lift?

You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. You may not be happy with the results of your facelift. You may have scars or hair loss. Your face may swell or parts of your face may droop. You may have large bruises caused by bleeding in your face and neck. These bruises can cause tissue in your face and neck to be damaged. You may have pain in your jaw, which may make it hard for you to open your mouth. You may have nerve damage that causes parts of your face or neck to be weak or numb. You may need another surgery to fix these problems.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© Copyright Merative 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.