Facelift Risks

Facelift Risks and Complications - Should You Be Concerned?

Reviewed by Yael Halaas, MD

All surgeries have risks, and

is no exception. The good news is that serious complications during facelifts are considered rare, and other complications and risks can be prevented if you follow your surgeon's instructions carefully.

If you are considering facial surgery, you have come to the right place. The newly revamped All About Facial Rejuvenation features up-to-date information on everything and anything related to facial surgery. From injectables and chemical peels to facelift, rhinoplasty and eyelid surgery, we've got it covered. Our expert-approved content will help you become the expert on your facial plastic surgery.

Courtesy of AAFPRS

Still, a facelift is a major surgery with a major recovery period that holds the potential for serious — even fatal — complications

Facelift risks and complications may include:

  • Excessive scarring
  • Bleeding
  • Hematoma (blood clot)
  • Infection
  • Poor wound healing
  • Skin necrosis or death (in front of or behind your ear, for example)
  • Anesthesia risks
  • Facial weakness or paralysis caused by facial nerve injury
  • Asymmetry
  • Skin loss
  • Numbness
  • Burning or cold sensations
  • Fatty tissue death (fat necrosis)
  • Fluid accumulation under the skin (seroma)
  • Facial pain
  • Skin contour irregularities
  • Skin discoloration or swelling
  • Earlobe deformity ("pixie ear")
  • Visible sutures
  • Hair loss along the incision lines or elsewhere
  • General dissatisfaction with the cosmetic results
  • Deep vein thrombosis (when a blood clot forms in a vein deep inside the body). This clot can block blood flow and cause swelling and pain or break free and move through the bloodstream.
  • Heart and lung complications
  • Possibility of revision surgery
  • Depression or emotional changes
  • Death

Your facelift risk profile is individualized. For example, some people may be more prone to developing thick raised scars (keloids) than others, while others may be more predisposed to developing blood clots.

The best way to maximize your aesthetic results and minimize your risk of complications is to choose a board-certified facial plastic surgeon and take his or her advice seriously. Do not leave anything out — even if it seems trivial to you — when going over your medical history with your surgeon. Be honest about your past medical problems (familial and personal), your smoking and drinking history, all medications or supplements that you take on a regular basis, and any other questions your surgeon may ask.

Taking the time to address these points with your surgeon prior to surgery can go a long way towards ensuring a positive outcome.


  • Halaas 58x57

    Yael Halaas, MD, FACS

    60 E. 56th Street
    3rd Floor
    New York, NY 10022
    (332) 239-6439

  • P

    Mune Gowda, MD

    3270 West Big Beaver
    Suite 415
    Troy, MI 48084

  • P

    Sean Maguire, MD

    Physician's Center for Beauty
    24 Chenoweth Lane
    Louisville, KY 40207
    (866) 774-9105