Your surgeon will advise you on which procedure is best for you and how long you need to stay in the hospital or surgical center based on your diagnosis, age, medical history, general health, and possibly your personal preference. Learn about the different facelift procedures and ask why your surgeon will use a particular type for you.

Types of anesthesia that may be used

Your surgeon will perform a facelift using either general anesthesia or regional anesthesia, depending on the specific procedure. 

  • General anesthesia is a combination of intravenous (IV) medications and gases that put you in a deep sleep. You are unaware of the procedure and will not feel any pain. 
  • Regional anesthesia is also known as a nerve block. It involves injecting an anesthetic around certain nerves to numb nerves in your face. You will likely have sedation with regional anesthesia to keep you relaxed and comfortable.

What to expect the day of your facelift

The day of your surgery, you can generally expect to:

  • Talk with a preoperative nurse. The nurse will perform an exam and ensure that all needed tests are in order. The nurse can also answer questions and will make sure you understand and sign the surgical consent form. 
  • Remove all clothing and jewelry and dress in a hospital gown. It is a good idea to leave all jewelry and valuables at home or with a family member.  Your care team will give you blankets for modesty and warmth.
  • Talk with the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist about your medical history and the type of anesthesia you will have. Surgeons may perform some types of anesthesia.
  • A surgical team member will start an IV.
  • The anesthesiologist, nurse anesthetist, or surgeon will start your anesthesia.
  • A tube will be placed in your windpipe to protect and control breathing during general anesthesia. You will not feel or remember this or the surgery as they happen.
  • The surgical team will monitor your vital signs and other critical body functions. This occurs throughout the procedure and your recovery until you are alert, breathing effectively, and your vital signs are stable.

What are the risks and potential complications of a facelift? 

As with all surgeries, a facelift involves risks and possible complications. Complications may become serious and life threatening in some cases. Complications can develop during the surgery or recovery. 

General risks of surgery 

The general risks of surgery include: 

  • Anesthesia reaction, such as an allergic reaction and problems with breathing 
  • Bleeding, which can lead to shock
  • Blood clot, in particular a deep vein thrombosis that develops in the leg or pelvis. A blood clot can travel to your lungs, heart or brain and cause a pulmonary embolism, heart attack, or stroke.
  • Infection and septicemia, which is the spread of a local infection to the blood

Potential complications of a facelift

Complications of a facelift include:

  • Changes in skin color or contour
  • Damage to the nerves controlling your face. This is usually temporary.
  • Facial asymmetry
  • Fat necrosis, or death of fat in the skin. This may change the appearance of your face.
  • Fluid collection under the skin
  • Hematoma or a collection of blood under the skin. Hematomas sometimes need to be drained.
  • Numbness or changes in skin sensation
  • Persistent pain
  • Poor wound healing
  • Surgery to revise unsatisfactory results
  • Sutures that may surface and become visible or cause irritation. This may require removal of the sutures.
  • Unfavorable scarring

Reducing your risk of complications

You can reduce the risk of certain complications by following your treatment plan and:

  • Avoiding straining, bending and lifting as directed by your healthcare provider
  • Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before surgery and during recovery
  • Informing your doctor or anesthesiologist if you are nursing or if there is any possibility that you may be pregnant
  • Keeping your head elevated, even when lying down, as directed by your healthcare provider
  • Notifying your doctor immediately of any concerns, such as bleeding, fever, increase in pain, or wound redness, swelling or drainage 
  • Taking your medications exactly as directed
  • Telling all members of your care team if you have any allergies