When undergoing facelift surgery (rhytidectomy), your first priority should be getting proper rest and allowing smooth recovery. Taking the recommended time off from work and resting will allow your body to heal fully. After the surgery, your surgeon will give you detailed post-operative instructions which you should follow religiously. You may be keen to get back to your exercise routine and feel as normal as possible. However, it isn’t ideal to do exercise after a facelift surgery (rhytidectomy).
Guide to Facial Surgery
How Exercising Too Soon Can Impact Your Surgical Recovery
As a general rule of thumb, you will be looking at taking a few weeks off from work and staying clear of all the strenuous activities. If you work from home you will be fine to return to work, but if your job involves face to face interactions, you may not be comfortable seeing people for the first few weeks. You’ll have to put a hold on your regular exercise routine until you are fully recovered.
Exercising too soon post a facelift surgery (rhytidectomy) procedure could lead to complications. An important risk is harming the sutures and reopening of incisions. Any kind of heavy lifting, straining and cardio will put a strain on your incision site and disrupt healing which can lead to larger scarring, infection, bleeding, and other complications. It can also lead to swelling and increased bruising which isn’t something any one of us desires to see on our faces.
Exercise Timeline after Facelift Surgery (Rhytidectomy)
Even when you feel physically and mentally fine, it is critical to follow the exercise timeline provided to you by your surgeon. Each patient is different and heals at a different pace. Hence, it is crucial to listen to your body and your surgeon. With that being said, here is a generalised timeline of exercise to follow post a facelift (rhytidectomy):
DAYS 1 TO 3 POST-FACELIFT (RHYTIDECTOMY)
During this time of recovery, you will have a certain level of discomfort but you shouldn’t feel too much pain. You will be required to take medications to keep the pain and swelling under control. Do not worry as this is part of the healing process and is somewhat expected. Don’t expect to see results at this point. You will also feel tightness around your face and neck.
Try to stay relaxed and not stress your body by raising your blood pressure unduly at this point and arrange for someone to help you around the house. Your physical activity needs to be very minimal. If you have drainage tubes, you will most likely be asked to come in for a follow-up visit.
Get enough bed rest for at least one full day after facelift surgery (rhytidectomy). You will feel quite tired at this point and won’t feel like moving at all. If you don’t feel like moving for two to three days, don’t push yourself hard. The most you can do for the first three days is walk lightly around the house.
Do not overexert yourself for the first 48 hours post the surgery. Avoid all forms of exercise.
WEEKS 1 TO 3 POST-FACELIFT (RHYTIDECTOMY)
Most people will stop their pain medication at this point. Most people will also be able to start feeling more active around the house. Strenuous activities are still a big no-no. You will still have some bruising and swelling which can make you feel uncomfortable in public. Don’t worry as it will start to subside significantly by the end of week three. You can use a cool or heat compress to help with the swelling. Sleep with your head elevated as it will minimise swelling and promote healing.
In the first week, feel free to walk around your house for 15 to 20 minutes. Gradually, build up the duration to 30 minutes as you feel better. By the end of two weeks, you can do light chores around the house such as cooking and dusting. Light stretching and yoga can also be included in your routine by the end of week three.
During the first three weeks, avoid lifting heavy objects as they can put a strain on your incisions.
AROUND 4 WEEKS AFTER THE FACELIFT (RHYTIDECTOMY)
Congratulations! You are over the most difficult part of your recovery. After one month, you will be able to resume a lot of the general activities. However, pay close attention to your body. If you feel tired, lethargic or weak at any point during the day, take some rest. The bruising and swelling will be mostly gone by now and you will begin to feel comfortable walking in public without any makeup. It is common to feel a slight tingling sensation in your skin. Don’t worry as it is perfectly normal.
Keep up with the light cardio such as walking around the house, neighborhood or treadmill. You can also start cycling slowly on a stationary bike and gradually build up the intensity within the next few weeks.
Pay close attention to your heart rate and make sure it doesn’t get too high. This one step alone will prevent swelling, keep bruising to a minimum, and avoid complications such as bleeding and seromas.
AROUND 6 WEEKS POST-FACELIFT (RHYTIDECTOMY)
Most of the side effects such as swelling, bruising and tingling sensation in the face will subside and you will be given a go from your surgeon to start working out. If the surgeon feels like you are healing at a relatively slow pace, you might be asked to put a halt to physical activities for another two weeks.
There is nothing to worry about here. Every individual is different and has a different recovery journey. If everything goes as planned, you will be given a go-to resume for all sorts of physical activities including strenuous workouts and heavy lifting.
Most people are able to engage in gentle exercise routines six weeks after facelift surgery (rhytidectomy). However, it is a good idea to check in with your surgeon prior to resuming your routine.
Don’t forget that each individual is different and recovers at a different pace. It is important to take your individual journey into account while starting and stopping any specific exercise. With patience, realistic expectations, proper care, you can return back to your healthy, active lifestyle in no time at all.
Exercises After a Surgical Facelift (Rhytidectomy)
Here is a list of exercises you can try post a surgical facelift (rhytidectomy). Make sure to stick to the timeline mentioned above:
Walking is the safest form of exercise post-facelift surgery (rhytidectomy). Walking lightly around the house will help prevent blood clots and promote healing. It will also give you a burst of energy. It is important to walk at a super slow pace initially and take breaks when needed. Do not overexert yourself. If you feel tired at any point while walking, take a break. Begin your walks from 5 minutes a day and gradually build it up to 30 minutes.
You might get a go for cycling once you are past the three or four-week marker. You can either take out your bike and ride slowly on a straight road or use a stationary bike. Again, you don’t need to ride your bike super-fast or at an incline. Simply focus on getting your legs to move a bit and take breaks when you feel very tired.
3. Stretching and Yoga
Light stretching is recommended once you hit the four weeks marker. It will relieve stress from your muscles and give you much-needed flexibility. You can also try certain yoga poses. Make sure that none of the poses put stress on your incision sites or causes pain. If you feel pain, stop immediately or change the pose.
Pilates is another great form of exercise to try past 4 to 5 weeks after the facelift (rhytidectomy). It targets individual muscle groups and helps with strength building without the need of lifting heavyweights. Start slow and gradually move up to more advanced Pilates exercises.
FAQs about Exercising after Facelift Surgery (Rhytidectomy)
How soon after the facelift (rhytidectomy) can I exercise?
- You can begin light walking within the first week of the surgery. You can introduce cycling, light cardio within the next three weeks. Most patients are able to get back to their complete routines, six weeks after the surgery. However, it is important to check in with your surgeon prior to resuming any form of workout.
Why can’t I work out after the facelift (rhytidectomy)?
- Working out too soon after surgery will put a strain on your incisions and can lead to swelling, bruising, bleeding and seroma. It can increase the risk of complications and disrupt the healing process.
How long does it take to see results after a facelift (rhytidectomy)?
- Most people start to see results in about 4 to 6 weeks after the facelift surgery (rhytidectomy), after the swelling and bruising completely subside.
How long should I wait to workout or exercise after facial surgery?
- Before going back to your regular workout routine, you have to wait for a minimum of six weeks after facial surgery. You can resume light walking a week after the surgery.
How long to wear the chin strap after a facelift (rhytidectomy)?
- Wear a chinstrap continuously for the first two weeks after the facelift surgery (rhytidectomy) except while eating and showering/cleaning incisions.
Can I go for a walk after a facelift (rhytidectomy)?
- Yes, you can totally start walking for 15 to 20 minutes even in the first week after a facelift (rhytidectomy). Gradually, increase the duration up to 30 minutes. Do not walk at a fast pace though.
How can I speed up healing after a facelift (rhytidectomy)?
Here are a few steps that will help with healing after a facelift surgery (rhytidectomy):
- Rest as much as you possibly can as it will allow your body to heal
- Take all the medications given to you by your surgeon
- Sleep on your back with your head in an elevated position
- Do not try strenuous exercises and heavy lifting for the first six weeks post-surgery
- Use a cold compress to minimise swelling
- Keep a healthy diet that is low in sodium
- Wear a chinstrap that helps minimise swelling
- Do not skip on follow up visits
How soon after the facelift surgery (rhytidectomy) can I fly?
- Most patients can take short-haul flights in about 48 hours after the facelift surgery (rhytidectomy). However, it is always a good idea to check in with your surgeon prior to flying.
What happens if you exercise too soon after surgery?
- Exercising too soon post any kind of surgical procedure will put a strain on your stitches and could lead to bleeding, infections, swelling, and hematoma.
Further Reading about Facelift Surgery (Rhytidectomy) and Exercising after Facelift (Rhytidectomy)
- Read Dr Hunt’s Deep Plane Facelift Surgery page
- Read Dr Hunt’s Traditional Facelift page
- See Dr Hunt’s Real Patient Facelift Surgery Before and After Photos
- Blog Midface Lift Surgery Sydney
About Dr Jeremy Hunt – Specialist Plastic Surgeon
Dr Jeremy Hunt is a specialist plastic surgeon performing breast, body, face and nose surgery in Australia. He is a member of FRACS & ASPS and has over 20 years of experience providing plastic surgery in Sydney.
Dr Hunt’s personal, one-on-one service and attention to detail has ensured that thousands of women and men from the Sydney & Wollongong NSW area and across Australia have received high quality surgical care.
Dr Hunt’s qualifications and education
Dr Jeremy A Hunt MBBS FRACS graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine degree from Sydney University in 1990 and is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and member of ASPS – the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. He completed a Fellowship at the prestigious University of Texas in the United States, where he learnt from some of the world’s very best plastic surgeons.
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Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health professional.