Home » Blog » Why is it taking so long to heal after facelift?

Why is it taking so long to heal after facelift?


Question from New Orleans, LA: 30 days post op today. Slow healing, not a smoker! Did everything right then some. Ps not worried, but is there anything I can do to speed up the healing of left ear front? first pic is about 4 days ago. Does not hurt, ooze or burn. Still taking bromelain and vit c and now supplements. Am tired of hiding out. Scabs behind ears still too, left back better than right, but right front better than left. (scab wise) Thank you.Dr. said put nothing on it. I am putting Aquaphor on skin not incision



Dr. Dean Kane, board certified Plastic Surgeon from Baltimore Answers

Thank you for your concern! Healing of a surgical incision is probably the most mis-understood aspect of any surgical education process. In today’s fast paced society, we wish for quicker healing due to less recovery time. Unfortunately, we can optimize the healing process but not make it as fast as you expect or wish for.

The following is a simplified overview for you to consider in your quest for fast healing.

The healing process depends on many factors. The body, whether it is the face, trunk, arms and legs or organs follows a fairly defined process to seal skin and tissue breaks or injury. Short and long incisions, invasive or non-invasive; healing is the same. It is the magnitude of the trauma that prolongs healing according to the bigger or smaller injury. Scar, collagen or fibrosis are all the same name for the mortar that keeps the tissues together with incisions or thickening of the skin which we desire with dermal lasers and medications or injectibles.

Each patient is unique and creates the environment for optimal healing. your heritage, high blood pressure, heart disease, clotting syndromes, diabetes, nicotine use, vascular disease, auto-immune syndromes, nutrition, hydration and prior skin injury are many factors which can prolong healing.

When the skin is lifted off the underlying tissues as they are with a facelift, the incision AND the underlying skin is now devoid of it’s normal supply of circulation. This compounds the factors towards optimal healing and prolongs the process. The “larger” the flap, the more potential lack of circulation. Incisions in hair-bearing areas and certain thicker healing areas will factor into facelift incisions.

In general, 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.

Your surgeon will guide you in the ways to optimize your healing. Sorry your expectations are not met but nature does not follow our best desires.

I hope this has been helpful! All the best!



Dr. Dean Kane




« »