Risks of Facelift Surgery

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Facelift surgery can do amazing things for not only a person’s appearance, but overall confidence. Dr. Thompson performs many facelift procedures each year and it’s always amazing to see the transformations that take place. That being said, it can somewhat of a nerve-wracking experience in the beginning and it’s important to be prepared for the recovery process and understand the risks of facelift surgery.


The first concern many patients have that of the general anesthetic and the length of time they will be under. For a standard facelift, the surgical time is 4 hours and 30 minutes. The time is increased as additional procedures are often added, such as fat grafting, a browlift, chin implant, and/or eyelid surgery. While it may sound scary to be “under” for so many hours, the anesthesiologist is manually controlling breathing to ensure there is no choking and in over ten years Dr. Thompson has been performing facelift surgeries, I have never seen a complication with anesthesia aside from nausea. Usually patients who experience nausea with anesthesia have experienced this before so we’re prepared to give them something to ease the discomfort, such as phenergan.

Surgical Risks

While highly uncommon, there is one risk with facelift surgery that has occurred a small number of times over that last 10+ years. That is the development of a hematoma, or collection of blood under the skin. This is typically apparent in the first 1-3 days post surgery and can be drained by Dr. Thompson. It then resolves over time but may delay the healing time in that area. Most facelift patients spend the first night in the hospital following surgery so this type of development is typically noticed in that time and taken care of as soon as possible.

Other common risks include mild bleeding, bruising, swelling, and discomfort following facelift surgery. These are all to be expected to some degree and instructions are given to aide in the healing process and minimize discomfort by our knowledgeable staff at a patient’s pre-operative appointment before surgery.

Uncommon Surgical Risks

There are other possible risks of facelift surgery but they are highly uncommon. They include damage to deep structures, nerve injury, skin disorders, and chronic pain. This is not to say they can’t happen but we haven’t seen these risks occur in any patient. There have been some weak nerve issues following surgery but none have been permanent and typically resolve in a few weeks.

For more information about facelift surgery, visit our facelift page or call (801)776-2220 for a consultation in Utah or via Skype.


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