As you age, your skin becomes less elastic. This, plus the effects of gravity, can make a face look persistently tired. A facelift can minimize facial wrinkles and sagging caused by aging and creates a more restful and youthful appearance. However, a facelift won’t stop the aging process. Before surgery, talk with your surgeon about what a facelift can and cannot do for you so you have realistic expectations. Also, talk about all possible risks and benefits. Knowing what to expect after a facelift can help ease your anxiety before surgery and help you get back to your regular activities sooner. Expect Some Pain, Swelling and Bruising Your facelift will be performed in a hospital or outpatient surgery setting. Most patients go home the same day of surgery. Others need to stay in the hospital for a night. You won’t be able to drive after surgery. Have a friend or family member drive you home and care for you for a day or two after surgery. The operation usually takes 2 to 3 hours. Afterwards, you may have small tubes attached to your face to drain fluid that collects under your skin. You will have stitches at your incision sites and a bandage may be wrapped around your face. You will have some pain, swelling and bruising after surgery. Your doctor can prescribe pain medication to ease your discomfort. Your doctor will explain what you should and should not do during your recovery: Take pain medicine as directed. Don’t take any over-the-counter pain pills without asking your doctor. Use a cold compress to ease pain and swelling. Keep your head raised when lying down. Rest during recovery. But, be sure to get up and walk around to minimize the risk of blood clots. Avoid long hot showers and steam baths for a few months. Your doctor will tell you when it is safe to shower. Stay out of the sun. Don’t drive, lift or bend for at least a week after surgery. Don't do any strenuous activity for at least two weeks. You will need to go back to your doctor to have the drains removed. Drains usually need to stay in for about two days. You may also have to go back to have stitches taken out. This usually occurs 5 days to 2 weeks after the operation. Most people can return to work within 2 to 3 weeks of surgery. When to Call Your Doctor Common side effects after surgery include bruising, swelling, tightness and numbness. These side effects can last up to two weeks. Call your doctor if you have: Fever Swelling, bleeding, bruising or redness that gets worse Pain that doesn't go away with pain medication Discharge from your incisions Loss of feeling or movement in your face It’s possible to have long-term complications, such as scarring or discolored skin. Your face might not look symmetrical. Some people have continued pain or numbness. As with any procedure, ask your doctor well in advance of surgery what steps you both can take to minimize, prevent and correct complications. A Younger Looking You It can take months before swelling subsides completely and you see the final results from your surgery. You should look younger after a facelift. Depending on your face and skin, the results could last from 5 to 10 years. To maintain your younger appearance, continue to take care of your health and skin. Maintain a healthy lifestyle and stay out of the sun as much as possible. Wear sunscreen whenever you are outside.