A young woman wearing a hair cap while a doctor in latex gloves examines her forehead.

How is a Face Lift Performed?

Back to all posts September 1, 2022

After you go through all of the lead up examinations and planning, where the facelift surgeon looks at every part of your face, neck and jowls and determines what needs to be done, it’s time for the facelift surgery. 

Facelift surgeries are performed in accredited and licensed operating rooms, rooms that have been inspected to make sure that they are fully up to the code of the medical accreditation organizations and deemed to be clean, fully equipped, and ready to handle any and all appropriate surgeries, even if something goes wrong. 

What are the steps in a face lift procedure?


The first step in a facelift procedure will be administering anesthesia. This can be intravenous anesthesia or general anesthesia. The decision will depend on your preference and the recommendations of the surgeon. 

Options For a Facelift

There is more to a facelift than just a facelift, and how a facelift is performed depends on what your goals are and what areas of the face to focus on. You may, for example, also be getting facial implants which improve the contour of your face. You may also get resurfacing done, a technique which improves the tone and texture of the skin. You may also get injectables, such as fats or fillers, which will help significantly with wrinkle reduction and sagging skin to remove the signs of aging. 

You will have discussed all of this prior to your surgery with your surgeon so there will be no surprises. 

The Facelift Incisions

This is where we see how a face lift is done–the actual surgical procedure. There are numerous types of facelifts you can get, from the traditional facelift to the neck lift to the ponytail facelift. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to be looking at the traditional facelift.

The incision that the facelift involves is made at the hairline, starting at the temples, and continues down along the front of the ear and then back to your lower scalp. During this, the skin is pulled back so that the surgeon has access to the fatty tissue and the muscles which are now visible. 

The surgeon will sculpt the fat and muscle, either removing, repositioning, or redistributing it around parts of the face. The skin is then put back into place, excess skin is removed (because the surgeon will have removed a portion of waste skin that was making large jowls, wrinkles, and so on), and then the incisions are stitched up. 

In the event of a neck lift, a second incision may be made just under the chin to tighten up the fatty and loose skin of the neck. That incision is then closed as well. 

The Sutures

The sutures that a surgeon chooses to use may vary from patient to patient, and from physician preference to physician preference. Some sutures are made to dissolve on their own, while others will need to be removed by the surgeon or one of their staff. 

Because of the placement of the sutures, just above the hairline and below the chin, the scars from the small incision will be effectively invisible. Even the scars along the front of the ear are made so that they will blend in with the contours of the skin of the face.

How Soon Before the Facelift Looks “Normal”?

There will be bruising and swelling the day after surgery and for several days following cosmetic surgery, and this is to be expected. The bruising will be in the face, but also may drift down into the chest as the blood from the surgery is pulled down by gravity. 

You will likely be able to go out in public without much of a second glance after two or three weeks, but if you’re trying to show your best self to people who know you, a facelift takes two to three months to heal completely. 

How painful is a facelift?

What happens during a facelift is intrusive, so there will be pain, but you’ll be surprised how little pain you truly feel during recovery time. There will certainly be pressure, and it will feel as though your skin is tight (because it is). The bandages you wear the first night will feel a little constrictive, but they’re very temporary. Many patients report that the bandage doesn’t feel restrictive at all, but is simply snug and comfortable, like a nice blanket. 

In almost all cases, over-the-counter pain medications will be prescribed. Tylenol and Ibuprofen are typically all that are needed as you recuperate. However, if your pain is severe, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor’s office. 

Request a Consultation

Dr. Andrew Jacono

Dr. Andrew Jacono, M.D., F.A.C.S., is a Dual Board Certified, Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon with a thriving practice on Long Island’s Gold Coast and in Manhattan on Park Avenue.

Dr. Jacono specializes in reconstructive surgery, specifically facelifts, rhinoplasties and eyelid lifts with flawless, yet natural results. He’s internationally recognized for his innovative non-surgical and minimally invasive facial rejuvenation techniques. As Director of the New York Center for Facial Plastic & Laser Surgery, Dr. Jacono's expertise attracts a wide range of clientele, from prominent celebrities to everyday individuals seeking various enhancements. He is also sought-after for his expert opinion as a lecturer and presenter. Dr. Jacono has presented his innovative techniques at leading universities in the US, and has conducted live surgery at over 100 global plastic surgery meetings and symposiums across multiple countries and organizations.

New York Center for Facial Plastic Surgery

Schedule a consultation

Schedule today

Accessibility: If you are vision-impaired or have some other impairment covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act or a similar law, and you wish to discuss potential accommodations related to using this website, please contact our Accessibility Manager at (212) 570-2500 .