Every patient will recover at a unique rate. There are 3 general phases of healing after any plastic surgery: early (days/weeks), intermediate (weeks/months), and late (months/years). The phases of recovery don’t have distinct transitions between them. The early phase of healing occurs within the first days and weeks after plastic surgery. Most of bruising and swelling resolves during this early phase, including stitches dissolving or being removed. Generally, patients report not requiring prescription pain medication after the first several days or so after facelift surgery.
On average, patients are “back to normal” approximately 2 weeks after plastic surgery. Exercise may be resumed after 2 weeks, around the time when the intermediate phase of healing begins. During the first couple months after plastic surgery, skin continues to tighten and swelling continues to resolve. Patients have already returned to work or school by this intermediate healing time frame. Any residual swelling is usually noticeable by the patient only.
The last phase of healing really takes several months to years, as gradual changes continue to occur in the skin and tissue. Any external scars and residual mild swelling continue to fade. Patients should continue healthy habits to maintain their aesthetic results, such as eating a healthy diet, routinely exercising, avoiding excess salt or processed foods, using consistent sun protection, avoiding smoking, and getting adequate sleep.