Facelift Surgery: Cost, Risks, Recovery


A facelift, also known as rhytidectomy, is a cosmetic surgery to remove excess facial skin to make the face appear younger. The loss of youthful contours in the face can be caused by many factors, including thinning of the skin, loss of facial fat, gravity, sun damage, smoking, heredity and stress.

Often, a facelift surgery is combined with other procedures that may be necessary to achieve the best results, such as brow lift, eyelid surgery, neck surgery, liposuction, buccal fat reduction and so on.


Good candidates for a facelift surgery include:

  • Individuals who have good health and no medical conditions that impair healing
  • Nonsmokers
  • People whose facial skin is loose and sagging
  • Have positive and reasonable expectations of the surgery


According to 2018 statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost of a facelift is $7,655. However, this number only includes the surgeon’s fee. Other factors that should be involved in the total cost are:

  • Medical tests
  • Hospital or surgical facility costs
  • Anesthesia fees
  • Prescriptions for medication
  • Post-surgery garments


No surgery can be free from risks. Possible complications that can occur with facelift surgery include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Scarring
  • Swelling and persistent pain
  • Asymmetry of the face
  • Reactions to the anesthesia
  • Hematoma, a collection of blood under the skin
  • Injury to the nerves that control facial muscles, but usually temporary
  • Poor wound healing

Your surgeon will make sure that you fully understand these risks and complications in your consultation.


A consultation is the first step of preparing for a facelift surgery. Your surgeon will take a thorough medical history and perform a physical examination. You should also tell the surgeon your expectations concerning the facelift. During your visit, your surgeon will ask you to:

  • Get some lab tests
  • Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
  • Apply certain products to the facial skin before the surgery
  • Stop smoking or drinking alcohol at least 2 weeks in advance of the surgery
  • Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding and bruising

Typically, a facelift surgery is done on an outpatient basis. So, you should arrange for someone to drive you to and from the surgery, as well as stay with you for at least 24 hours after the surgery to ensure your safety.

Surgical steps

A facelift surgery usually takes between two and six hours, depending on its complexity. The exact technique used during a facelift surgery is based on many factors, including a patient’s anatomy and expectations, the extent of the facelift, and whether another procedure is being performed at the same time or not.

After the general anesthesia, the surgeon will make the incisions using different techniques. If you choose a traditional or standard facelift, the incision often begins in the hairline at the temples, continues around the ear and ends in the lower scalp. If you choose mini facelift, you surgeon will make shorter incisions at the temples, continuing around the ear.

Then, your plastic surgeon can pull a flap of skin on each side of the face back and tighten the underlying muscles, remove excess fat and skin, and redrape your skin to a more youthful shape. Finally, your surgeon will close the incisions with sutures or skin adhesives.


In most cases, patients can return to normal daily activities after about 2 weeks following a standard facelift surgery. But strenuous exercise will need to wait about 4 weeks. The recovery time is normally even shorter after a mini facelift.

Bruising and swelling are normal after a facelift surgery and will be at their peak about 2 days after surgery. After that, bruising and swelling will get better and fade away in about 10 to 14 days. It’s especially important to keep your face protected from the sun. In general, it will take 2-3 months for the face to feel back to normal in terms of texture, sensibility and loss of tightness.

Keywords: facelift surgery.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.