Exercising After Facelift Surgery: What to Expect

Written by Cameron Craven, MD, FACS, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on June 16, 2021 No Comments

facelift exercise

Facelift surgery yields profound results, dramatically transforming one’s appearance by instantly eradicating the visual symptoms of years of aging. Typically, those who opt for a facelift in pursuit of a more youthful look are generally interested in staying as fit and healthy as possible. After surgery, it’s normal to feel inspired to quickly return to the gym or some other form of vigorous activity. Following facelift surgery, however, it is vital for patients to ease back into their exercise routine to let the body fully heal.

Here’s when facelift surgery patients can expect to return to the gym, competitive sports, or their favorite form of exercise.

Why Waiting to Exercise After Facelift Surgery Matters

Facelift surgery involves the creation of incisions along the neck or lower face. Most workouts target muscles from the neck down. Do patients really have to wait before jumping back into their old exercise routine following their procedure?

The short answer is yes, patients cause considerable damage by exercising too soon after your facelift surgery. A facelift is a major surgical procedure that requires significant downtime. Exercising too soon can cause serious complications and will prevent you from realizing the best possible results.

Exercise, strenuous activity, and heavy lifting increases bleeding, swelling, and inflammation. This not only slows down the healing process, but it can also prevent proper healing by increasing the risk of infection. Stress on the incision sites increases the risk of scarring and may even cause sutures to reopen.

To prevent the need for corrective surgery it’s vitally important that all forms of exercise, both high-impact movement and gentle yogic inversions, be resumed slowly and intentionally as the body is ready.

Timeline: Exercising After Your Facelift

The following timeline will give you an idea of what to expect after your facelift surgery. It’s important to remember that everyone heals at their own pace and that facelift recovery time can differ greatly depending on the type of facelift technique performed. Listen to your body and consult with your surgeon throughout the healing process and before resuming activity.

1-3 Days Post Surgery

Most patients experience the most discomfort in the first few days after your facelift surgery. During this time rest is of utmost importance. Bruising and swelling will reach their height around day 2 or 3 and should begin to subside after that.

In the first few days, avoid even moderately strenuous movement, including bending over and inverting. Beginning on day 2 or 3, light walking is recommended to help promote blood flow which speeds healing. Short, easy walks is the only form of exercise that should be undertaken.

  • No strenuous movement
  • No bending over or inverting
  • Short, easy walks may begin on day 2-3

1-2 Weeks Post Surgery

Many patients start to feel less discomfort over the first few weeks as bruising and swelling subsides. Most patients may even feel good enough to return to work or resume normal daily activity, provided these activities are light to moderate and approved by their surgeon. Patients should continue their daily walks and begin to increase their length or duration as long as they remain comfortable.

  • Return to light daily activity (not exercise)
  • Daily walks can be lengthened and increased in intensity

2-4 Weeks Post Surgery

After the first two weeks patients may speed up and lengthen their walks, and with permission from your doctor they may even being doing light workouts in the gym. Walking on a treadmill and light to moderate use of a stationary cycle or elliptical machine should be ok. Patients should continue to avoid strenuous or impactful exercise like weightlifting or running, as well as any movement which inverts the head below your waist. Pools and steam rooms should also continue to be avoided to prevent infection.

  • Gradually increase cardio intensity
  • Avoid weightlifting or strain
  • Avoid running and other high impact exercise
  • Avoid inverting head below the hips

4-6 Weeks Post Surgery

By week 5 most patients have been approved to return to their exercise routine at approximately 75% effort. Weightlifting at less than maximal effort, as well as low-impact cardio should be ok. Patients should continue to avoid strenuous or high impact activity until they are fully recovered, which can take anywhere from 6-8 weeks.

  • Low-impact cardio ok
  • Weightlifting at 75% effort is typically ok
  • Avoid running or high impact activity
  • Gradually introduce yoga and inversions

No matter what, patients should always listen to their body and follow their surgeon’s guidance. Everyone heals at their own pace, and what might be right for someone else may not be right for you. It’s better to be patient and ease back into exercising post-surgery, than to risk jeopardizing your results.

If you’re worried about gaining weight or loosing muscle while recovering, don’t! Your body requires energy to heal and is diverting calories toward this effort. You’ll have plenty of time to get back to the gym when the body is ready. In the meantime, make sure to drink plenty of water, eat healthy foods, and get lots of rest.

Cameron Craven, MD, FACS

Cameron Craven MD, FACS is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Craven specializes in the full spectrum of cosmetic surgery including breast augmentation, liposuction and body contouring, facial rejuvenation, laser surgery, eyelid surgery, and rhinoplasty, as well as reconstructive surgery for skin cancers.

Leave a Reply