When Can I Go Back to Work After a Facelift? A Board Certified Cosmetic Surgeon Answers Your Facelift FAQs

do I need a facelift to look younger
With a plethora of non-surgical treatments and products for facial rejuvenation now available, you may wonder, is anyone still getting facelift surgery these days?

Absolutely—every year tens of thousands of men and women undergo facelift surgery because the procedure remains the most effective way to lift sagging facial tissues, reduce jowling, and eliminate sagging neck skin. The results can be amazing, too; patients often look about a decade younger after healing is complete.

If you are considering a facelift, you surely have a lot of questions about the surgery, recovery process, and expected results; we know our patients do! To help you in your research process, we’ve answered a few of the most frequently asked facelift questions below.


How much does a facelift cost?

At our office in Bellevue, facelift surgery costs between $6,500 and $13,000. If this seems wide to you, that’s because individual facelift patient needs and goals vary significantly. For example, a younger patient who is primarily concerned about mild jowling may only need a mini-facelift, which would be on the lower end of the price range. On the other hand, older patients who have considerable skin sagging and deep facial folds would need a full facelift (at the higher end of the cost range) to achieve satisfactory results.

An expertly-performed facelift can set back the clock on your appearance, so you continue to look about 5 to 10 years younger than your actual age as time goes on. Excellent skincare and a healthy lifestyle are key to lasting results.

If you see lower facelift prices online or in a consult, keep an eye out for red flags. First, you don’t just want the surgeon’s fee—an all-inclusive fee is key to understanding the true costs. So, when you request a facelift price quote, make sure it includes everything: surgeon’s fees, operating room costs, anesthesia, as well as pre- and post-operative care, so you are aware of the total costs of a procedure before making a decision.

Second, too low of a fee may indicate that the surgeon is not a board certified cosmetic surgeon, and may be cutting costs by using an less-than-optimal operating facility or an underqualified support staff. Facelift is a significant surgery and you should insist on a board certified anesthesia provider and an accredited operating facility for your safety.

How do I know if I need a facelift?

The main sign you “need” a facelift (versus a non-surgical alternative) is sagging skin that can easily be pinched and pulled away from the face and neck. That’s because a facelift removes extra skin—something which simply can’t be done via any other method.

More specifically, we recommend a facelift if a patient is bothered by:

  • Loose or sagging skin under the chin or on the neck
  • Visible jowling along the jawline
  • Deep folds along the sides of the nose or mouth
  • Moderate to severe skin laxity or sagging in the cheeks

If you are mainly concerned with signs of aging in the mid portion of the face—sagging in the cheeks and prominent nasolabial folds—a less invasive mid-facelift may be an appropriate option.

If facial wrinkles are your top concern (but you have minimal skin sagging), Botox (for the upper ⅓ of the face) and fillers or fat injections (for the bottom ⅔ of the face) are often a more effective wrinkle treatment than facelift surgery. In fact, we frequently incorporate these non-surgical treatments into our facelift patients’ treatment plan for this purpose: the facelift addresses the sagging, the injectables take care of the wrinkles and volume loss.

Additionally, many patients come in thinking they need a facelift, when volume loss is the main problem—a problem that can be remedied with injectable fillers or fat transfer. As you can probably see, the only way to determine with certainty which facial procedures will be best for you is to consult with an experienced facial cosmetic surgeon.

When you receive facelift price quotes, make sure they include everything: surgeon’s fees, operating room costs, anesthesia, and pre- and post-operative care, so you’re aware of the total costs of a procedure before making a decision.

Where are facelift incisions located?

Facelift incisions are typically made around the lower part of the ear and behind the ear, where scars will be concealed. The exact length of the incisions depends on a few factors, including how much sagging skin needs to be removed.

When it comes to avoiding noticeable scarring, your cosmetic surgeon’s skill will be the most critical factor. An experienced facelift surgeon will place incisions so that they will heal within the natural skin crease in front of your ear, and behind your hairline to ensure they are not detectable once healing is complete. Following your cosmetic surgeon’s pre- and post-op instructions to the letter will also be critical to your scar’s final appearance.

For male facelift  patients, incisions will be placed so that we can remove excess skin and tighten tissues without disturbing the natural beard line.

What is facelift recovery like?

Because facelift surgery is so individualized, every patient’s recovery process is a little different. That said, here is what you can expect regarding post-operative pain, downtime, and when your results will look great.

How you’ll look and feel after facelift surgery. You’ll be very tired the day after surgery, as anesthesia effects wear off; make sure you have an adult caretaker with you the first 24-48 hours. Most patients easily control any post-op pain with prescription medication and switch to over-the-counter medication after the first 1 to 3 days. Soreness, numbness, and a tight feeling may persist for several weeks. Swelling and bruising peak about 3 to 5 days after surgery and then improve each day, to the point where they’re undetectable by others within about 2 to 4 weeks; you can use camouflage makeup and/or accessories to help conceal your healing results if you want to go out earlier than this.

Facelift downtime. You’ll want to mostly rest for the first 3 to 4 days, but take frequent walks to promote healing, prevent blood clots, and keep from getting stiff throughout your body. Driving is allowed only after you are totally off prescription pain meds and can safely turn your neck and shoulders—about the 4 to 5 day mark for most patients. You must not lift anything over 10 pounds, strain, or do anything more strenuous than normal walking for at least 3 weeks. This is to avoid complications such as bleeding and poor scar healing.

Time to “photo-ready” results. This is a somewhat subjective measure, as some patients may feel more comfortable in the spotlight earlier in the process, while others want to wait until their scars are completely faded. In general though, results are “photo-ready” about 8 to 12 weeks after facelift surgery. By this time, bruising is gone, swelling is so minor that only you and your doctor may notice it, and feelings of tightness and numbness are almost gone. Scars may still be a little pink, but these can be easily covered with camouflage makeup.

When can I go back to work after a facelift?

Given the above facelift recovery timeline, most patients with desk jobs feel ready to return to the office within about 10 to 14 days after a facelift. If you work from home, you will likely feel physically ready to resume work a little sooner, but you may wish to wait until your scars have had a little longer to heal before spending time in close quarters with your colleagues. If you have a more physically demanding job, you may need to take more time off than an office worker after your facelift, or modify your work until you are ready to resume your normal duties.

Choose an experienced, board certified facial cosmetic surgeon to perform your facelift, as your surgeon’s skill and technique—both in lifting the underlying facial tissues and ensuring appropriate skin tension—will make the greatest difference in your results.

How long does a facelift last?

You’ll often hear that a facelift lasts about 5 to 10 years—but it’s not like your face will look exactly the same for this time and then suddenly revert to your true age. An expertly-performed facelift can set back the clock on your appearance by several years, even up to a decade for many patients. This means you will continue to look about 5 to 10 years younger than your actual age—if you take care of your skin, enjoy good health, and don’t experience significant weight fluctuations.

The single most important thing you can do to ensure long-lasting, natural looking facelift results is to choose an experienced, board certified facial cosmetic surgeon for your procedure, as your surgeon’s skill and technique—both in lifting the underlying facial tissues and ensuring appropriate skin tension—will make the greatest difference in your results. The second most important thing to do is to take care of your skin and yourself. Quality, medical grade skincare can make a dramatic difference in slowing the progression of wrinkles, preventing sun damage, and prolonging your facelift results.

Have more questions? Contact us, we’ve got answers!

Facelift surgery can be an effective, safe, and rewarding procedure. If you’re curious about your options, please give our office a call. Dr. Alex Sobel is highly experienced in a variety of facelift techniques—and he’s triple board certified in facial cosmetic surgery, otolaryngology (head and neck surgery), and cosmetic surgery—so you can trust his experience and advice to help you decide if a facelift is right for you. Call 425.453.9060 or contact us online anytime!

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