Plastic Surgeon Dr. Dean Kane of Baltimore Answers Question Regarding Stiffness and Numbness Months Following a Facelift

Q. Is neck stiffness and numbness normal after a full facelift and for how long will it last? After having a full face and neck lift in March, 2017, I am still experiencing some numbness around the ears and neck stiffness.

A. Thanks for your question. The healing process including the incision line AND all that occurs underneath goes through 4 progressive and dynamic phases lasting over a year to complete.

In today’s fast paced society, we wish for quicker healing and less recovery time. Unfortunately, many factors may slow wound healing down and few accelerate it.

Each patient is unique and creates the environment for their healing. Your heritage, high blood pressure, heart disease, clotting syndromes, diabetes, nicotine use, vascular disease, auto-immune syndromes, nutrition, hydration, weathering and prior skin injury are many factors which can prolong healing. Scar, collagen or fibrosis are all the same name for the “glue” that keeps the tissues together. It must be created and then remodeled into a thin and supple, imperceptible sheet.

In the most optimal case, it takes:

  • 3 to 7 days for circulation to stablize;
  • 7 to14 days for healing cells called fibroblasts to begin to make scar;
  • 3 weeks to develop enough scar strength for return to non-exertional activities of daily living;
  • 3 to 6 weeks for swelling to diminish (although it roller coasters with increased activities until 6 months or longer);
  • 3 months to maximal scar thickening and lumpiness; and
  • 3 to 12 months or longer for the healing to “remodel”, ie thin and stablize to its best.

You are probably well into the “remodeling” phase and tighter, contracted collagen which is causing your stiffness will continue to resolve for greater range of motion, neck freedom and as the nerves grow through the thinning tissues, sensation will return.

Your surgeon will guide you in the ways to optimize your healing. These may include:

  • Massage
  • Physical Therapy with ultrasound therapy
  • Anti-inflammatories called NASID’s such as ibuprofen and Naprosyn
  • Sensitization and de-sensitization massage if required

Healing events are a process. I hope this has been helpful.  I wish you the best!

Read more about similar topics:

Long Recovery After Facelift

This information is not meant as medical advice. It is provided solely for education. Our practice would be pleased to discuss your unique circumstances and needs as they relate to these topics.

Give us a call at  410.602.3322  or email Lauri@DrDeanKane.com and make an appointment soon. We’re located on Reservoir Circle just a block off the Baltimore beltway, convenient to greater Baltimore, Annapolis, the Eastern Shore, Southern Pennsylvania, Delaware and Carroll County.

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