What can go wrong with facelift surgery?

Around 2,000 people opt for face lift surgery in the UK each year, that’s around seven per day during the working week.  While complications are rare, it’s important to know what they are before you decide to go ahead.


When considering having face lift surgery, don’t be afraid to ask about what can go wrong.  It’s a big decision to have any type of elective surgery, so thinking about the benefits as well as any negatives enables you to make an informed decision about whether to go ahead with treatment.  It’s certainly not a subject we shy away from, and part of your initial consultation with us will cover any risks associated with your chosen treatment.  


Making an informed choice

Complications with face lift surgery are rare, though they cannot be completely ruled out. Issues associated with facelifts include:



A haematoma is an accumulation of blood under the skin.  A bruise is a type of haematoma which will, of course, disappear over time without intervention. Some haematomas, however, are more severe and result in significant tightness of the skin and threat to the stitches.  These will sometimes settle, with the accumulation of blood being reabsorbed by the body after a few days. Gentle movement usually helps, however, if the haematoma is very significant, it will need to be surgically drained, usually under local anaesthetic, though sometimes general anaesthetic is required.


Nerve injury

A face lift also carries a small risk of injury to the nerves that control facial muscles.  The effects, which can include a floppy cheek, droopy mouth or issues with eye closure, are in the vast majority of cases temporary, but can sometimes be longer-lasting and even permanent. The problem occurs when the facial nerve is bruised, stretched or cut, affecting the way in which the nerve transmits messages to the muscles.


Infection & reactions to anaesthesia

As with any type of surgery, there is a risk of infection and reaction to anaesthesia.  You will be closely monitored after surgery for any early signs of infection, and you will be invited for follow-up appointments in the days and weeks after surgery so that we can check your scars are healing properly.  


With regard to the reaction to anaesthesia, everyone responds differently.  It’s common to feel nauseous after a general anaesthetic, though this usually wears off within a couple of hours.  You may feel a little dizzy and some people also feel cold – again, you will be closely monitored and our team will endeavour to make you as comfortable as possible.


Mitigating the risks

All surgery carries some risk.  However, you can safeguard yourself by choosing a well-established practice like Manchester Plastic Surgery.  We are led by experienced plastic surgeons Mr James Murphy and Mr Adam Goodwin who are supported by a highly qualified team, operating in state-of-the-art facilities at the Spire Manchester Hospital.


During your initial consultation, your surgeon will discuss the potential risks of a face lift procedure, and answer any additional questions you may have.  We will provide all the information and advice you need to be able to make an informed decision about whether face lift surgery is right for you.

If you would like to learn more about this procedure or are interested in a consultation, fill out the form below or call us on 0800 015 0622