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Face lift incision healing over time: week, month, and year after cosmetic surgery

facelift neck lift scar incision healing time month year

For patients with submental fullness, a mini lift for the lower face and neck is a plastic surgery option with minimal downtime. Other treatment options for submental fullness include neck liposuction, chin augmentation, and  non-surgical injections (ex. Botox®, Juvederm®, Kybella®, etc). But for patients with sagging or excess neck and jowl skin and muscle, a facelift may be the best option. Facelift surgery for reduction of excess neck skin and sagging muscle has not yet been replaced by non-surgical treatments.

Plastic surgeons offer a variety of facelift surgery options for the neck and face, such as s-lift, mini lift, short scar lift, macs lift, SMAS, etc. Many of these facelift procedures differ little from a technical standpoint, and the cosmetic results are essentially comparable.

Regardless of the facelift type, the facelift incision may run from the temple & side burns, around the ear, and to the upper neck areas. The incision length and location vary largely based on how much lift an individual needs. For this personalized lift, the plastic surgeon will attempt to minimize the incision but maximize the lift, while maintaining a natural appearance. The best plastic surgeons will tailor a facelift to the needs of each patient, rather than doing only one type of procedure.

Facelift incisions fade with time. – Houtan Chaboki, MD

How does the facelift incision change with time?
The facelift incision blends and hides from view over time. All plastic surgery involves scarring, but surgery should result in scars that are eventually not noticeable. Plastic surgery has three general phases of healing after surgery: early, middle, and late. During the early phases of healing, which last a couple weeks, the facelift incisions may be swollen, tender, bruised, or red. Stitches can either dissolve or be removed after about one week. In the middle phase of healing, which lasts a few months, the facelift incisions become softer, flatter, less pink, and non-tender. The last phase of healing takes about a year, at which point the scars gradually become mature. Mature facelift scars are generally thin, white, and flat. The scars may no longer be directly visible at that time, as they blend with surrounding skin.

Here are close-up before and after photographs of patients who have had facelifts by Dr. Chaboki. As you can see, the incisions are well hidden even on close examination. Even in the earlier stages of healing, women can style their hair as they desire, including styles that sweep hair away from the face.

facelift neck lift scar incision healing time month year

When can I use makeup after a facelift?
Make-up is usually allowed after an appropriate healing period, due to the risk of infection or skin irritation with premature make-up use. During the first weeks, only topical bland, non-allergic ointments such as petrolatum (ex. Vaseline®, Aquaphor®) or silicone is normally allowed. Once the face and neck is in the middle phase of healing, then makeup can be applied to hide healing scars.

When is shaving allowed after a facelift?
Similar to make-up, men have to wait until appropriate healing has occurred. Most men are able to shave 2 weeks after plastic surgery.

facelift neck lift scar incision healing time month year

How to minimize a facelift scar?
We previously discussed ointments to help reduce scarring after plastic surgery. Be careful and always review care instructions with your facelift surgeon. Research has demonstrated that some topical ointments may cause a skin allergy or contact dermatitis after prolonged use, such as vitamin E, triple antibiotic, Neosporin®, or Bacitracin®. Other topical antibiotic ointment, such as polymyxin B or muporicin, have much less risk of skin allergy.

Other methods to help reduce scarring after surgery include:

  • Strict avoidance of smoking and smoke exposure. Even second hand smoke is harmful.
  • Avoidance of direct sunlight on the area. Cover operated areas with scarf, hats, and clothing. Sun block once healed appropriately
  • Treatment of infections immediately
  • Massage

Our Washington DC area facelift patients often use an antibiotic ointment and avoid getting the incisions wet for the first couple days after cosmetic surgery. Once the incisions are healed, patients resume using sunblock. Topical petrolatum jelly or silicone gel (patient’s choice) is used daily on the incision for approximately 2 months.

Contact the office today to review facelift surgery that is appropriate for you.

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    Houtan Chaboki, M.D.