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Medically Reviewed by:

Robert Applebaum M.D.

Facelift What to Expect: Procedures, Costs, and Recovery Time

Aging gracefully is important to most people, but we don’t always have control over how we age, as genetics, stress, and other factors influence our appearance as we get older. While it’s not possible to control your genetics, you can control the steps you take to preserve a youthful, natural appearance. Although facelifts were once easy to pick out in a crowd thanks to the drawn, overly tight look with which they were once associated, today, facelifts are more natural than ever. If you’re considering a facelift, here’s what to expect.

Facelift Procedure Overview

Sometimes referred to as a rhytidectomy, a facelift is a popular plastic surgery procedure that is used to reduce visible signs of aging in the face and neck. As we age, our skin begins to lose elasticity and starts to wrinkle and sag. The shape of the face may change as fat in the face is reduced or shifted, which can cause a sunken appearance in the cheeks and neck. The age at which patients begin to notice these changes varies depending on a number of factors, including sun exposure, body weight, genetics, stress, and smoking. 

In order to combat these inevitable aging changes, some people choose to undergo a facelift. Patients may undergo a traditional facelift or mini facelift depending on the extent of their aging, and some may also choose to receive a neck lift. A traditional facelift is created by making an incision in the hairline near the temples that extends towards the ear. From here, the surgeon is able to sculpt or redistribute fat, reposition the tissue, redrape the skin, and remove excess skin, creating a smoother, younger appearance. A traditional facelift is most appropriate for patients who show significant signs of aging and desire to have a procedure that will wind back the clock as far as possible.

A mini facelift is less invasive and uses only small incisions near the ears. Surgeons have less control over the skin and tissue with smaller incisions, so this procedure is most appropriate for patients who show fewer signs of aging and do not need or desire significant rejuvenation.

Some patients may also benefit from having a neck lift performed in conjunction with their facelift procedure. Neck lifts can correct sagging or loose skin on the jowls and neck and can redistribute fat that may accumulate under the chin.

Facelift Costs

The cost of a facelift varies significantly from patient to patient depending on the complexity of the procedure, the surgeon’s experience, and the geographic location of the office, as patients in higher cost of living areas can expect to pay more for the procedure than patients who live in less expensive areas. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost of a facelift in 2019 was 7,467 dollars. However, it should be noted that this figure is only a partial cost and does not reflect the cost of the anesthesia, operating room fees, and other related expenses that vary from patient to patient and location to location. 

While it can be tempting to shop around and look for the least expensive option, remember that choosing a surgeon to perform facial surgery is not the time to cut corners. You should choose your surgeon based on their qualifications, experience, and the rapport you develop with them during the consultation process rather than focusing on price.

Facelift Recovery Time

While facelift recovery times will vary somewhat from person to person, there are some general guidelines for recovery that will apply to the majority of patients. Your age, health status, and the type of facelift you have will impact your recovery time.

In the first week after surgery, you should expect to experience swelling and bruising, which reach their peak around day three or four. Patients typically take prescription pain medications for one week or less after surgery and will notice that their swelling starts to go down towards the end of the first week. You’ll want to take it easy and get plenty of rest the first week, avoiding any types of strenuous exercise or activity. By the end of the second week, most patients have noticed that their swelling and bruising has further subsided and they are able to return to work and perform light housework or other activities.

Weeks three and four following a facelift are a time of substantial progress, as your sutures will have been removed, your swelling will continue to go down, and your new facial contour will start to emerge. Most patients are able to go about their normal activities without strangers noticing that a procedure has been performed. Your incisions may still have a slight pinkish tint, but this will continue to fade until they become nearly invisible. While very minor swelling, tightness, and numbness can remain for up to a year, these are typically noticed only by the patient and are not visible to others.


A well done facelift can provide you with the confidence you need to look as young as you feel inside. If you have substantial signs of aging and desire a highly rejuvenated look, a traditional facelift will help you achieve your aesthetic goals. Patients who have fewer signs of aging may benefit from a mini facelift, which is less invasive and provides less comprehensive rejuvenation. Compared to other plastic surgery procedures, the recovery time for a facelift is relatively short, with the majority of the healing completed in one month. The cost of a facelift varies depending on the type of procedure performed, the geographic location of the office, and the complexity of the surgery.


Medically reviewed by Dr. Robert Applebaum

Dr. Robert Applebaum is a world renowned and highly respected Plastic Surgeon who is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. In his nearly 30 years as a practicing physician, Dr. Applebaum has become known as an innovator in the field of laser technology techniques for plastic surgery procedures. He has published numerous articles and scientific papers about the use of laser technology and educates physicians worldwide on the applications of laser technology for plastic surgery. Dr. Applebaum primarily practices out of his private outpatient surgery center, Four Thirty Six Aesthetic Surgery Center, which is located in Beverly Hills.


  1. https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/facelift
  2. https://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/blog/your-facelift-recovery-explained-from-day-1-to-day-30
  3. https://www.skincancer.org/blog/photoaging-what-you-need-to-know/

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