The Ugly Truth: What Makes a Bad Facelift and How to Prevent It

May 2, 2023

We get it. Facelift fear is real.

During their consultations with our Lexington plastic surgeons, many patients express trepidation about the results of a facelift. Perhaps they have seen that one celebrity or politician whose eyebrows seem frozen in that slightly unsettling “surprised” position. Maybe Aunt Jackie found a great discount for a facelift procedure online, but the results were…less than ideal.

Some wonder if a botched job is a risk they must take no matter where they choose to undergo the procedure. We’re here to assure you that, with proper research and by carefully following all pre and post-operative instructions, those facelift fears can be put to rest.

Signs of a bad facelift may include:

The Ugly Truth: What Makes a Bad Facelift and How to Prevent It


Visible scarring

Incisions on the face can be challenging to hide, but an experienced surgeon will take care to minimize scarring as much as possible and to make incisions that will be undetectable once healed.

Altered hairline

A change in the hairline, especially in the sideburn and forehead regions, may indicate that the skin has been repositioned too far or too high. To prevent this, a surgeon must make the incision directly at the hairline and avoid repositioning or removing any hair-bearing tissue.

Pixie ears

Cutting away too much excess skin or pulling it too tightly toward the ears can cause elongated or disappearing earlobes. A skilled surgeon will keep ears looking natural by anchoring tissue to a bone or muscle.

Skyscraper brows

Overly elevated brows may not be the desired outcome for some patients but they can be easily avoided. During your consultation, speak with your surgeon about your desired goals. Look through pictures of the surgeon’s work to note what you like and dislike. Before booking with the surgeon, make sure you’re both on the same page regarding the outcome you would like to achieve.

Too-tight skin

One objective of a facelift is to tighten the skin, but a skilled surgeon will be careful to avoid pulling the skin too tightly, making it difficult to move comfortably.

Abnormal lines and wrinkles

If the skin is pulled in a way that changes the direction of facial wrinkles, the result can be lines that look strange and unnatural. Your surgeon should be able to follow the natural contours of your skin to avoid lines that look out of place.

Unnatural motion

The most concerning indication of a bad procedure is unnatural motion in and around the face. When the muscles in the face are weak or paralyzed, it is typically a sign of severe nerve damage.

In addition to these more visible signs, a bad facelift can also cause serious medical complications such as:

  1. Nerve injury
  2. Accumulating fluid in the face
  3. Skin discoloration
  4. Prolonged swelling
  5. Infection

With such a wide array of things that could go wrong, many wonders if getting a facelift procedure is worth the risk. The good news is that a botched procedure can be avoided. To achieve your desired results, use the following steps to guide you through the process.

1. Do your research.

When choosing a surgeon to perform your procedure, extensive research is crucial. Conduct your research by:

  • Checking the surgeon’s credentials
  • Read reviews from past clients
  • Review before and after photos
  • Visit the practice to make sure it is a clean, organized environment

2. Set a consultation appointment.

A consultation is an opportunity for you and the surgeon to discuss the details, desired results, and potential procedural risks. Use this appointment to address any questions or concerns before booking your facelift.

3. Carefully follow all pre and post-operative instructions.

Your surgeon knows what will help and hinder the healing process and how to help you achieve optimal results. Carefully follow their advice, both before and after your surgery.

4. Take care of your skin.

Before your procedure, take good care of your skin by cleansing and moisturizing it daily. Your surgeon will advise you on how to care for your face, which products to use, and which to avoid.

5. Allow for plenty of recovery time.

One reason some patients find themselves disappointed with the results of their facelift procedure is that they do not allow for sufficient time to recover. The urge to get back to normal life can be hard to ignore but don’t rush the recovery process. Take it slow. You’ll thank yourself later.

6. Avoid drinking and smoking.

Alcohol consumption and smoking can interfere with the healing process, so avoid both until your surgeon gives you the green light.

7. Contact your surgeon if any problems arise.

While minimal discomfort and swelling can be expected during the first few days following a facelift procedure, you should immediately report any excessive pain or lingering swelling to your surgeon. You’ll also want to watch for discoloration and discharge and call your doctor if you experience any symptoms that are out of the ordinary.

Opting for a facelift procedure is a big decision, but there’s no need to fear that yours will be the next horror story of a facelift gone wrong. Doing extensive research, preparing well, and allowing yourself time to recover will go a long way in ensuring that you get the best results possible. Contact our Lexington facelift specialists to get started on your facelift journey.