Risks of a facelift

The following is a list of possible complications of which you should be aware and which may occur despite the surgeon’s best efforts. In most cases they can be managed, with a satisfactory outcome. However, if you feel that you would be unable to cope with a complication then you should not undergo the surgery.


Excessive bleeding will result in bruising and swelling. A haematoma (blood clot inside the cheek or neck) may form and this may require evacuation in the operating theatre. This usually occurs in the first 24 hours after surgery and the risk can be minimized by patients avoiding anti-inflammatory drugs (other than Panadol) for a month before surgery.

Bruising and swelling

It is normal for the facial and eyelids tissues to be swollen and bruised for 1-2 weeks after surgery. When fat injections are used for facial rejuvenation the area is always “over corrected” as it is anticipate that some of the fat will resorb.


Professional wound care minimizes the risk of infection. Prevention of infection is the reason that patients are given antibiotics during and after their surgery.


Although the scars are hidden in the hair line, around the ear and in the eyelid creases, it is normal for the scars to be reddened and thickened for several weeks following surgery. The scars usually fade with time but occasionally become thickened and widened necessitating further treatment.

Hair Loss

It is possible for areas of hair loss to occur around the scars.

Nerve damage

The Facelift operation is designed to minimize risk of damage to the facial nerves which control facial muscle activity; however it is possible that nerve damage will occur. It is normal for numbness to be present in the cheeks in front of the ears following facelifting surgery.


Pre-existing asymmetries will still be detectable after surgery. Minor asymmetries of the upper eyelid skin fold may also be present and require correction.

Allergic Reactions

Local allergies to surgical tape or suture materials may occur. Skin rashes and other reactions may occur due to medications given during or after surgery.

Comments from others

Although it is anticipated that most comments will be complimentary, it is possible that unkind comments made by a third party can lead to anxiety and dissatisfaction.

Emotional effects

A patient’s ambitions for facelifting and eyelid surgery to achieve social and professional goals may not be achieved. Additionally, should complications occur, there may be significant adverse effects on the patient’s life including social, sexual, emotional, physical and financial.

Revision surgery

Should revision surgery be required this may be emotionally, socially and financially demanding. Fortunately most revision surgery is minor in nature.  The outcome however can never be guaranteed.

Changes to the tissues with time

Facial rejuvenating surgery may turn back the clock, but it continues to tick. Therefore it is anticipated that further ageing will occur with time and further “maintenance” treatment may be required.  Usually this will include the use of Botox, dermal fillers and dermal therapy. It is not possible to predict when further surgery may be desired.