Facelift Side Effects and Risks: When to Call Your Doctor By Anya Kishinevsky, M.D. on August 06, 2018

Facelift before and after photo of female patientPatients who wish to eliminate wrinkles, creases, sagging, or other signs of aging can benefit from a facelift procedure at our Darien, CT plastic surgery practice. Facelift surgery is considered to be a safe and effective treatment. However, like any surgical procedure, there is always the risk for side effects and complications.

Here, Dr. Anya Kishinevsky discusses common facelift side effects and potential complications and explains when patients should contact their surgeon.

Side Effects: What is Considered Normal?

Anytime you undergo surgery, side effects are to be expected. In general, most of these diminish over time, and post no threat to your recovery. We will explore the most common facelift side effects in the sections below.


A facelift is considered surgery. Therefore, some level of discomfort is to be expected. Pain and tenderness can be managed with prescription medication and over-the-counter pain relievers. In most cases, discomfort peaks around the third or fourth day, and begins to diminish after that.

Swelling and Inflammation

Virtually everyone who undergoes a facelift will experience swelling. This is simply the body’s natural healing response and is not a cause for concern. Inflammation typically begins to fade after the first few days. However, most patients will still notice some swelling weeks after their procedure.


Do not be surprised if you notice bruising following your plastic surgery procedure. This side effect will be especially pronounced during the first few days, especially around the eyes.

For the most part, bruising will diminish in about two weeks. However, full healing can take several months. If the appearance of bruising is lessening every day, then you are on track to your desired outcome.


Your scars will appear pink for several months, then they will turn white. However, when performing your facelift procedure, your surgeon will strategically place the incisions in order to minimize scar visibility.

Potential Risks following Facelift Surgery

Now that we have discussed the normal side effects of facelift surgery, we will explore a few potential risks associated with the treatment. These may include:

  • Facial nerve injury
  • Delayed healing, particularly common in smokers
  • Visible scarring
  • Numbness or tingling around the surgical sites
  • Hair or skin loss
  • Skin discoloration

In addition, there are general risks of surgery. These may occur following any type of surgical procedure:

  • Excessive bleeding: Light post-operative bleeding is normal. However, if excessive bleeding occurs, it could indicate a hematoma or other type of complication.
  • Infection: If you experience redness, sensitivity, swelling, or localized heat, you may have an infection.
  • Hematoma: This condition occurs when blood accumulates under the surface of the skin. If severe, the hematoma may need to be removed with surgery.
  • Negative reaction to anesthesia: Some individuals may find that they experience a negative reaction following anesthesia, such as nausea or vomiting. This is usually temporary.

If you notice any of the above warning signs, call your surgeon right away for further instructions.

Contact Us for More Information

Are you considering a facelift procedure? If so, it is important to know what to expect during the days, weeks, and months following your treatment. For more information, contact us online or call us at one of our office locations.

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Anya Kishinevsky, M.D.

Anya Kishinevsky, M.D.

Board-certified surgeon Anya Kishinevsky believes in a completely personalized approach to plastic and reconstructive surgery. She holds several distinctions, has repeatedly been featured on Connecticut Magazine's list of Top Docs, and is a member of the:

  • American Board of Plastic Surgeons
  • American Medical Association
  • American Women's Medical Association

Learn for yourself why so many patients choose Dr. Kishinevsky for their care. Schedule a consultation at our Norwalk, CT, office online or call (203) 388-9919.

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"What you have done has completely changed my life in a very positive way. Your attention to detail was clear during the consultation, and remained throughout surgery and recovery. I had a wonderful experience!"

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