Facelift Risks and SafetyA facelift is a common and typically safe procedure, but like any other plastic surgery procedure, it is not without some risk. During the initial consultation, the surgeon will discuss all the potential risks and complications to help the patient make an informed decision.

The Virginia Institute of Plastic Surgery, led by board certified plastic surgeons, provides facelift and various other procedures. Patients in Richmond, Virginia, and surrounding communities have an opportunity to receive facelift surgery at the practice.


Common Risks

Adverse Reaction to Anesthesia

A facelift is usually performed using general anesthesia, which is extremely safe for most patients. However, if the patient has some underlying medical condition, they may have an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, or other major or minor complications.



The patient will have some risk of infection during and immediately after facelift plastic surgery. This risk can be minimized when the surgery center thoroughly follows the sanitation protocols. During initial recovery, the patient should avoid any contact of the incision areas with dirt or unclean things.



Hematoma involves bleeding underneath the skin. This can cause significant discomfort as well as skin discoloration and swelling. Corrective surgery may have to be performed to repair this condition.


Nerve Damage

In rare circumstances, a facial nerve may be nicked, cut, or cauterized during the surgery. This may cause facial paralysis or numbness. However, the damage is not permanent in many cases, and repair is possible.


Unfavorable Scarring

Some degree of scarring will always occur after a facelift surgery. But in most cases, the scars will be well-concealed due to discreetly placed incisions. In exceptional situations, scarring may be conspicuous and marks may not be hidden behind the ear or in the hair.


Minimizing the Risk

Patients can do certain things to minimize the risk of complications in case of facelift surgery. To begin with, they should select a well-qualified and preferably board certified plastic surgeon. These surgeons will use the latest less invasive techniques, invest in ongoing training, and follow the correct safety protocols.

On their part, the patients should be upfront with the surgeon about their health condition, smoking habit, alcohol, and drug use, if any. Misrepresentation or non-disclosure of such vital information could result in serious complications that could otherwise be avoided. The patient should be prepared to quit smoking at least two to three weeks prior to facelift surgery.

Failure to follow these instructions can lead to delayed healing, visible scarring, and unsatisfactory outcomes. Experienced plastic surgeons at the Virginia Institute receive patients from Richmond, Virginia, and nearby areas.


Managing Temporary Side Effects

Temporary side effects will typically resolve within a few weeks. But patients can take a few steps to minimize their impact and expedite healing. Prescription or over the counter pain meds can be used to manage initial post-operative discomfort. Medications should be taken only after consultation with the surgeon.

NSAIDs should be avoided during recovery. Swelling in the face can be controlled with compression bandages and to help the skin conform to new facial contours.

For more information on the surgical and non-surgical procedures and treatments by Board Certified Cosmetic Plastic Surgeons Dr. Reps Sundin and Dr. Burton Sundin please visit


Serving Northern Virginia, Washington DC, Vienna, McLean, Fairfax, Loudoun County, Ashburn, Tysons Corner, Reston, Arlington, Fredricksburg, Chevy Chase, Potomac, Maryland Richmond, VA and surrounding communities.

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