Erin’s Facelift Experience Part 2: What Recovery is Really Like

facelift recovery

A week ago, Erin lifted the veil on a subject not often discussed openly – why she was getting a facelift. 

Today, we dive into Part 2 of her facelift journey and go into all the details of what it’s like to go under the cosmetic surgery knife and what recovery from a facelift is really like.

I have to warn you that some of the pictures below are graphic. They have not been edited.

When Erin first sent me pictures of her recovery, of course your eyes immediately go to the bruises and the head-wrap, but then, look at it a moment longer and your mouth starts to drop.

I couldn’t believe the immediate and incredible difference that was visible in things like her skin smoothness, her jawline, her under eye and eye shape.


But, for this week, her words say it better than I could, so I’m going to let Erin take it away:

Cosmetic Surgery Day:

facelift recovery

My procedure was scheduled for Tuesday at 10:45 a.m. My friend, Andi, drove me and would stay with me for the first 24 hours.

I was whisked into a room and was given booties, undies, cap, and gown––all made from paper, to change into. Once I gracefully climbed onto the operating table, the rest of the nursing staff filed in. They were friendly, efficient, and acted as one well-oiled machine.

Three nurses worked in unison, one to secure a blood pressure cuff, one to get the IV inserted, and one prepared my hair for surgery. The nurse said she would position the hair away from my face into cornrows, and visions of Bo Derrick ran slow-mo in my head, but quickly changed to a Grandma Bo meandering down a beach. The nurse guaranteed me she would remove the cornrows prior to me being sent home. She also said my hair would be pulled tighter, once I was under anesthesia.

I learned later, during my first shower, that my hair had also been plastered to my head with some pink colored goop. I looked like a battered, swollen Kewpie Doll.

I asked if I could talk to the Doctor before he began. It appeared most people don’t, but I liked being that pain-in-the-ass patient, and I told him so. I gave him some encouraging words, and he promised all would go well. The IV-drip warmed my vein, as the large overhead operating light became a moon, and then eclipsed.   

After surgery, I was so out-of-it, I had no sense of time. Andi said she picked me up at 5:00pm. She also informed me I had one great protest, and annoyingly repeated it, “Oh, I definitely don’t think I should be going home.” I don’t remember speaking, being dressed, or being wheeled to Andi’s car, but I do recall being woozy as Andi belted me into her vehicle.

My next memory is Andi trying to get me to eat something, so she could start me on my meds: Hydrocodone, Keflex (Antibiotic), and Zofran (Anti-puke). This was about 8:00pm and  really the rest of the night is lost.

Andi later shared that she didn’t sleep well that night, because she kept checking on me. Friends are priceless.

Cosmetic Surgery Recovery Next Day and Post-Op:

I had a 12:30 appointment on Wednesday so the Doctor could check his work, and the fluid bulbs could be removed. I was swollen and bruised, and I was warned it would be at its worse the following day, Thursday. They applied a new bandage and off we went.

I ate a little, slept a lot, and Andi made sure I had my antibiotics and pain-med.

One awareness, sleeping in a sitting-up position is traumatic for a tummy sleeper. Have no clue when I might be able to return to my normal position.

My mouth wouldn’t open very wide and it hurt to chew. That’s why they recommended soft foods.

I believed I was past getting sick and had stopped taking the anti-puke medicine earlier. That was a mistake. I vomited about 5:00pm and it was most unpleasant. I don’t think vomiting is a desired behavior for recovering face and neck-lift patients. This knocked me back a bit.

When the swelling was at its worse, it felt like I was being choked. This was a bit unsettling, but I kept telling myself if I could shoot a baby from my body, I could handle this. 

Because of the nausea, which I felt the pain meds contributed to, I decided this evening would be the last pain pill I would take. I was still in such a brain fog, and I wanted to think clearer, as I knew I was going to be alone later.

Andi set me up before she returned to her own family. She continued to check on me several times per day. Which brings up another issue if you wear glasses. Mine didn’t fit over the bandages. It made looking at my phone difficult. 

In retrospect, I would recommend having someone stay with you for at least the first two nights. I did not count on vomiting again, or on how out-of-it my brain would feel. 

Facelift Recovery Day 3:

facelift recovery

My first day of hankering for a coffee. I ate oatmeal (Trader Joe’s Frozen Steel Cut Oats) and drank my magical brew.

One side affect from the surgery and drugs is that you can get constipated. I was asked on Day 2 if I’d had had a bowel movement yet. My last recollection was having one the morning of surgery. A BM now became a short-term goal. (When you can’t go anywhere or do anything, it’s the little things.) Andi had suggested, prior to surgery, to add prunes to the shopping list, which I did. In hindsight, I wish I had purchased a stool softener as my surgery information packet had suggested. After surgery, I wasn’t ready to drive anywhere. So this is just another example of something I wish I would have had available in the house, after surgery.

This leads to another thing I would have done differently. It was suggested I get Refresh or Systane eye drops. I did, but not a large enough bottle. The lower-lid procedure produced a great deal of swelling and bruising which created a lot of heat. It felt like my eyeballs were cooking in a skillet like a sunny-side up egg. I should have bought a larger bottle to poach my eyes, rather than fry them. So more soothing eyedrops if an eye procedure is involved.

Facelift Recovery Day 4:

Another morning of oatmeal with prunes, strawberries, and blueberries. I also had coffee. I pray today will be the day to achieve my short-term goal, but I’m disappointed. I managed a small load of laundry as I needed more clean hoodie zip-up tops.

Under the cover of darkness, and a washed hoodie, I slowly made my way to my mailbox. Atrophy sets in quickly. I went to the gym the day before my surgery, and my body feels weak, like I haven’t worked out for the last year. I didn’t anticipate my body to feel so fragile.

Facelift Day 5: Bandage Removal:

facelift recovery

It’s bandage removal day and my first shower. I delicately cut the bandage under my neck and removed the headpiece. It was a bit alarming to see all the black and blue marks on my neck. The colors and patterns reminded me of a beautiful inkblot, a Rorschach Test. My preference would have been to see it on a canvas, rather than my neck.

My face and scalp are a mixture of numbed and pained areas. I was told this was to be expected, but it’s strange to not have feeling where you’ve had it all your life. Once out of the shower, I soon learned I had failed to get all the goop out of my hair. This will be my new goal for tomorrow.

This was my first day to feel somewhat human, even as alien features appeared in my mirror. The feeling human part was a positive, as was being down four pounds. The most appreciated event of the day was having a bowel movement. My body was getting back to normal, and that’s what I prayed for each day: to heal as healthy and beautifully as possible. 

Facelift Recovery: Day 6:

Super Bowl Sunday. I haven’t watched a game since my husband passed away, but today I watched as two of his favorite teams played. I have to say I enjoyed it all. The commercials, the half-time, and the athletes.

I am sleep challenged. I’ve tried every couch, chair, and bed in the house. I’ve had the most success on one sofa with pillows propped, trying to keep my head above my heart, as I was told to do. I’ve found through the years, it’s beneficial to be a good patient.

I’m concerned about my neck as it is sooo tight. Putting cool compresses on it makes me feel better, don’t know if it matters at this point. The big thing with a facelift – NO ICE ON THE FACE! It can kill the skin and you definitely don’t want that kind of result. Cool compresses are my friend.

I’m surprised at some of the places where I hurt. My upper thighs ache and are weak, I’m guessing from the inactivity. I can’t exercise until three weeks out and my face is still freaky. The masses will be spared. I’m incorporating walking breaks around the house.

One Week Post-Op: Facelift Recovery:

facelift recovery

Super Monday. Some of my stitches come out today! Thankfully, Andi is driving me to my appointment, and I’m happy to hit this first milestone. The doctor and his team said I looked great, and I’m going to trust them on this one as they are professionals. To me, I could be an extra in a World War Z movie.

The doctor noticed I wasn’t holding my head/chin up enough. I needed to hold my neck straighter to help in the recovery. When I hold my head more erect, it pulls on my neck and feels like I’m doing something wrong. He discussed that if I don’t keep my head erect a band could form that’s not beneficial to recovery. It’s awkward, but I’m really trying to do what is asked of me, for the best results.

The stitch removal around my eyes took a delicate touch, and a steady hand. The stitches around my hairline, in front of my ear, in my ear, and under my chin came out fairly easy. My next big milestone is Friday – the staples come out! I’m told it will be easier to sleep once they are out. I’m also booked for a complimentary camouflage make-up appointment, so I’m looking forward to Friday.


As an outsider during this, I reached out to Erin via text and email over that first week and her responses were quite short and had a different feeling to them. I could tell my friend was struggling and in pain.

It was such a relief to receive her notes on that first week and hear her coming back to herself.

The recovery process truly puts the body and mind into such a state of shock and can take days for that shock and fog to lift.

If you are going through a cosmetic surgery journey, please plan to have someone there with you for at least a few days, so that you are not alone and have help when needed.

I hope you’ll come back next week for Part 3 of Erin’s journey and see more pictures of her transformation!

To read the 12-week finale with after pictures, read this post. And, to see how she looks 2-years post surgery, read this one!

If you have questions about Erin and her journey, feel free to leave them in the comments below!

If you want more info on Erin, here’s a little more about her:

Erin G. Burrell is an author and a Tarot card reader. Her book, That’s Why You’re Here, is available on iTunes, Audible, and Amazon. You can connect with Erin through her website or email.

Have a fabulous day,


facelift recovery



  1. Susan
    April 13, 2021 / 8:21 pm

    Just came across this post and I actually have an appointment the end of this month with a recommended cosmetic surgeon to discuss a neck lift. I’ve had surgery before when dealing with breast cancer 6 years ago but Gosh after seeing these pictures of your throat and neck is giving me serious doubts. The most important issue is how you describe the tightness in that area. Like a choking sensation. That worry’s me more than the pain I can’t wait for your third post. Would you have it done knowing what you went through? Thank you

    • Erica
      April 13, 2021 / 11:14 pm

      Hi Susan! Good news, the facelift finale post is already live and you can read all about how she felt afterwards. But, spoiler alert: she looks amazing and she doesn’t regret it at all! I was able to meet with her not too long after the surgery and it was a remarkable, noticeable, but natural looking difference. I hope you are comforted by the finale post and I’m wishing you all the best with your upcoming self-care!

    • Sandra Downie
      May 29, 2021 / 12:00 am

      Susan, I had the lower face and neck lift in 2016. I have yet to recover. A nerve was damaged and I am left with chronic pain. If you cant stand the sensation of a too tight turtleneck or the feeling of pressure on your hyoid bone, avoid this surgery at all cost. Sincerely Sandra

      • Erica
        June 2, 2021 / 10:21 pm

        Wow, Sandra, I am so sorry for what happened to you. That is really unfortunate. I do hope you find something that brings you relief soon.

      • L
        September 27, 2022 / 6:22 pm

        Wow, sorry to see what you went through. I had a facelift with lipo under my chin, fat pads under my eyes removed and laser resurfacing under my eyes and the only bruise I had was the size of a silver dollar At my lipo incision site and tiny, tiny bit by my ears. Sleeping was awkward until the staples were removed that’s for sure! Hope everything turned out well and you’re happy!

        • Erica
          September 28, 2022 / 7:16 pm

          I’m so glad your surgery went smoothly and you had an easier recovery! Erin is happy with the results, so that’s great. You can read the rest of her story in part 3!

    • Kim
      January 3, 2022 / 5:19 pm

      So, I literally had a facelift, neck lift, face and neck laser treatment, under eye stitches , fat transfer from stomach to face and extra fat removed from stomach. A mini lipo suction. Today is day 4, I was not put under for any of this, I was numbed with lydocain and given laughing gas to administer myself. Also to control bruising and swelling a homeopathic medication was given to me. I have very little bruising and medium swelling! I can’t believe the difference in my experience to hers. I’m feeling good enough to go to the office tomorrow. Anesthesia seems to be a factor. My doctor even sent me a gorgeous floral arrangement today and he and his team have texted me everyday. Completely different experience. Research all your options and check reviews! Good luck!

      • Erica
        January 16, 2022 / 10:54 am

        That’s amazing. I’m sure as time goes on, there will be so many new ways to make the experience less painful with less downtime. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  2. Beth
    April 30, 2021 / 5:42 pm

    I wonder if you can share how Erin felt about 6 weeks out from her procedure….
    Did her jaw area (specifically near her ears) feel like rather hard foam rubber?
    Has it softened over time? Thank you!

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