If a facelift is too tight will it loosen over time?

I had a facelift less than a month ago. I expected my skin to be more supple by now. There's some lumpiness on each side of my mouth and it seems to spread outward. I'm not quite sure how to describe it but I'm hoping that it's a normal side effect of the surgery and will sort itself out as time goes on. Am I right to think this or should I request to see my surgeon?


F, 49, Virginia

It's common to have concerns during the first few weeks after facelift surgery. It's also very normal to experience a feeling of “tight skin” post-surgery as you start the long healing process.

Many facelift patients become concerned that the final look of the surgery may not be to their liking long before the healing process has completed. As you said, you had your facelift procedure less than one month ago. This is typically too soon to judge whether or not you've had a good result.

Keep in mind that plastic surgeons consider the healing time for a traditional facelift to be about one year following cosmetic surgery.

During the first couple of months the swelling will go down, and the associated lumps and bruising should diminish. Remember that a facelift doesn't just remove loose skin. The healing also happens beneath the visible top skin layer in the deeper layers of skin, soft tissues, and the muscle layer as well.

Without a direct consultation it's not possible for me to comment on the lumps in your skin, but keep in mind that less than 4 weeks post-surgery is still extremely early in the recovery period. While many stubborn issues can persist long after facial plastic surgery -- and those issues may include lumps near the corners of the mouth -- less than one month is typically too early to make a judgement.

If you have concerns at any point during your healing process you should reach out to your cosmetic surgeon for advice specific to your case. I wish you luck with your healing process and would suggest a wait-and-see approach at this point.

Many patients will feel initially that their facelift is "too tight". You said that you "had a facelift less than a month ago", which is very early to be assessing the results of your surgery.

Very often feelings of pain, tightness and lumps beneath the skin are the result of swelling in the deeper layers of the skin. Since I'm not aware of the details of your surgery or which facelift techniques were used, I can't speak to your case specifically.

Generally speaking, the tissues will relax as the swelling subsides. With the decreased swelling, the appearance of subsurface lumps often fades as well.

If you are concerned with the results at any point during your recovery process you should contact your facial plastic surgeon and give him or her for an assessment of your recovery. In general, a "too tight" look will improve naturally over time.

Dr. Kimberly Henry has 3 Facelift before & afters:

Facelift before image performed by Dr. Kimberly HenryFacelift after image performed by Dr. Kimberly HenryFacelift before image performed by Dr. Kimberly HenryFacelift after image performed by Dr. Kimberly HenryFacelift before image performed by Dr. Kimberly HenryFacelift after image performed by Dr. Kimberly Henry

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In this short of a time period after surgery you still have swelling and I would expect some tightness and lumpy feeling to the skin.  This will all relax with time.  If there are areas that seem different from what you and your surgeon discussed as a normal expectation then I would advise a visit to address your concerns.  Otherwise, be patient and I expect all will resolve.