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What Are Pins & Needles?

As journeywomen progress towards the end of the first week of post-op, some ladies begin to experience a return of feelings to formerly numb areas in the face, neck, ears, cheeks, jaws, scalp, and along the perimeter of the face. The feeling of numbness that women may experience post-op can be a result of sensory nerves that supply feelings to the face and neck having been bruised, damaged or cut during surgery when an incision is made or when such nerves are interrupted when the skin is trimmed off or moved from its original location on the face (it is recommended to read the Numbness discussion in this room to have a full understanding of the pins & needles symptom). The return to feeling in previously numb areas occurs when sensory nerves begin to repair, rebuild and reconnect in such regions. When these nerves rebuild and reconnect, healing women may experience sensations that journeywomen have described as “tingling sensations”, “itchy”, “prickles”, “pins and needles”, “electric shocks”, and “burning sensations”. It is also normal for the affected regions of the face where nerve connections are regenerating to feel hypersensitive and tender. Skin tenderness often occurs as skin numbness decreases, so you may experience some sensitivity skin later on your healing journey (a detailed discussion on skin sensitivity, tenderness, and other skin changes and issues that may occur in post-op may be found in the Skin Sensitivity & Tenderness). The tingly, pins and needle sensations are an entirely normal aspect of the healing journey and can linger for the first few weeks, month and longer until numbness disappears. In many ways, this symptom should be welcomed as it spells the end of the numbness and the return to the land of feelings. For a full blown scientific explanation of why pins and needles occur, saunter over to the Facelift 101: Why Do Pins & Needles Happen? section on this page.

Will I Definitely Experience Pins & Needles?

While pins and needles may occur at any time during the early part of the week or in the second week or even weeks after surgery, pins and needles can begin anytime numbness begins to subside and sensation is being regained. Virtually all women experience some form of numbness during their healing journey, though not all women complain about pins and needles. However, pins and needles probably do occur in some form to women who don’t complain about them, as they are probably too slight to be detected. This may be explained by the possibility that while the process of nerves repairing and reconnecting themselves occurs in every woman whose nerves have been damaged or cut, the sensation produced by the nerves doing so is not so strong as to be detected or noticed in every woman. Be assured that your nerves will be working to repair themselves, but whether you’ll actually notice any prickly, tingly feelings is not definite.

How Do Pins & Needles Feel?

Pins and needles can range from a subtle tingling sensation, to super itchy, tingling, achy, burning feelings that can be accompanied by hypersensitivity and tenderness in the affected skin regions. Some voyagers have described the pins and needles sensations as a “thawing out” process whereby the formerly numb areas are gradually restored with feelings. Meanwhile, another described her own as electric shocks, and a third survivor characterized her pins and needles as prickles in her cheeks.

Do Pins & Needles Hurt?

While most women do not describe pins and needles as excruciatingly painful, for many the sensations have been described as annoying, irritating, or discomforting.

Prick Here, Tingle There

As your body repairs your displaced nerve endings, feeling can come back in varying degrees: slowly, randomly, or all at once in certain places. One veteran described pins and needles as a sensation like when your skin is reawakening after a dental injection for numbness. In many ways, the sensation of pins and needless is similar to when you try to walk on a foot that’s fallen asleep. You should also not be surprised if you feel the tingling sensations one moment, then have them disappear, and then have them return all of a sudden. As with any other symptom, pins and needles has an asymmetric, random pattern in its coming and going. For this reason, it should not be expected that your healing will follow a straight line progression from numbness to full return of feelings along with a consistent decrease in pins and needles. It is perfectly normal to see pins and needles come and go in a random fashion, affect only certain areas (for instance one ear area is tingly, but the other ear is fine, one patch of your neck is itchy but the rest is numb, etc.), and then disappear all of a sudden, and then reappear again in some area. Patience and positivity is important in handling this symptom, as it should ultimately go away.

Where Might My Pins & Needles Occur?

The pins and needles can arise wherever nerves were cut or damaged as a result of surgical cutting and wherever numbness occurs. You can get a rough indication of where pins and needles may affect you just by tracking the areas in which numbness has occurred after your facelift. In general, tingly sensations can manifest themselves anywhere along the jawline, cheeks, around the eyes, in front or behind the ears, under the chin, neck area, and areas of the scalp into which the incisions run. It is important to note that much like numbness, some women will experience the tingly sensations over large surfaces of their faces and necks, while others will only experience the prickles in smaller, localized areas.

Why Are My Ears So Sensitive?

It is also normal for the affected regions of the face where nerve connections are regenerating to feel hypersensitive and tender. For this reason, a good number of women we’ve encountered reported having very sensitive ears that prevented them from speaking on the telephone normally for a bit of time and had problem sleeping on their sides in the initial weeks of recovery (we’ve got a tried-and-proven solution for that too from our gracious facelift graduates…keep reading on as we’ll be speaking of it and many others). Some of these women maintained hypersensitivity in the ears for longer durations of time that extended to months until the ears normalized. We will explore this type of occurrence of hypersensitivity in the ears in the Ear Issues symptom.

In addition to the ears, other areas that women have also complained about being hypersensitive include the neck. We devote a full discussion to these issues in Skin Sensitivity & Tenderness.

Pins & Needles Fluctuations

Just as swelling, bruising, and other symptoms that make up the healing journey may occur randomly and be felt unevenly on both sides of your face, pins and needles may also have such asymmetrical patterns. For instance, you may feel tingly in your right ear while your left ear is still numb, the pins and needles in your left cheek may be more pronounced than the tingly sensations you experience in other parts of your face. Over the course of several months, the normal sensitivity of your face will be regained.

Do not expect a certain pattern of regeneration for your nerve endings over the course of your pins and needles healing journey. Pins and needles may occur in spurts, rather than in sustained, 24-hour a day type of sensation. You can feel pins and needles one moment and then it can stop the next moment, and not returning for days, only to suddenly feel some pricks for a few moments. Your pins and needles may also be triggered upon applying pressure or touching an area.

How Might Pins & Needles Affect Me Emotionally?

Although pins and needle are not visible, the physical annoyance or discomfort and the unpredictable duration of their occurrences can cause facelifters to become slightly or thoroughly irritated about their pins and needles situation. And if pins and needles intermittently occurs for several weeks or longer post op (as it very likely may) some women may grow frustrated at the incidence of pins and needles because they had expected numbness to resolve itself quickly and expected to be totally normal again. As a result, some women fear that they will not be normal again – which of course is not the case. Healing is a gradual process, and the return to full feeling is a journey that can take as short as weeks, or as long as two months, three months, six months, even a year for some slow healers. Still we have managed to find survivors that are not so bothered by pins and needles and see it as a signal that feeling is returning.

How Might My Pins & Needles Change?

Numbness generally hits its peak by the end of the first week, during the second week or even after the first month of post-op before the symptom begins to subside in varying degrees. When the numbness symptom begins to subside and is traded with tingling pins and needles, the occurrence of pins and needles should be somewhat welcomed as it indicates that sensation is returning to the area. While every woman heals differently and at her own pace as far as repairing and reconnecting the injured nerves, one can expect to have most of the numbness and pins and needles diminish over the course of the first 2 months or sometime afterwards. It is entirely normal for a tingly sensation to linger beyond this period and gradually disappear over the course of the first six months to a year of your healing journey. A strong number of women reported their numbness being gone in its entirety by the sixth month. We’ve encountered some cases where women whose numbness lingered beyond six months experienced tingly sensations after this time mark. In some cases, pins and needles may only become evident when the areas are stimulated by scratching or touching in a similar fashion.

How Long Will My Pins & Needles Last?

As discussed earlier, the timeframe for regaining normal sensitivity ranges from days, weeks, to months, and even a year later. The sensitivity is regained slowly. As early as the first week of recovery, the reconnecting of your nerves may also produce some “tingly” and “burning” sensations that can feel like pins and needles and electric shocks or even hypersensitivity, all of which are a normal function of your nerves getting their feeling back. The process of the nerves fully regenerating and the pins and needles disappearing can take weeks and months. However, the frequency of the pins and needles should decrease over time.

Healing 101: What Are The Healing Tips For Pins & Needles?

Patience, Please

There is no panacea or treatment to definitively reduce numbness or make it disappear rapidly – only the passage of time and patience, patience, and more patience!

Don’t Scratch Your Face

No matter how much pins & needles are driving you crazy, do everything in your power to avoid scratching your face. As your will be healing for months, any unnecessary touching, prodding or scratching will not be beneficial and could actually irritate your skin even further. Additionally, it is important to avoid scratching areas that have no sensation because they are still healing, despite the fact that they lack any sensitivity.

The V-V-V-Vibrator

We can’t confirm whether the following tip definitely will work for you. Women, who are making the facelift leap, are constantly inventing new therapies, techniques and contraptions to make their post-op experiences all the better. One such creative brainchild invented by facelifters is the use of an electric vibrating massager on the numb areas. The women who have taken to using a massager (funnily, the massager idea for numbness was accidentally stumbled upon, when some of these women first used the massager to relieve their neck tightness, as well as a way of getting rid of the lumps which can sometimes temporarily and normally occur). Women have said that the use of the massager helped speed up the return to feelings. If you plan to try this out, it is not a good idea to use the massager in the initial days of recovery (probably not until the end of the first week) because any unnecessary movement during such time can induce additional swelling, bruising, and bleeding.


Some women have taken to using medications such as antihistamines that are used to relieve itching caused by allergies. However, the effectiveness of such medications with treating pins and needles is not confirmed to work as the itching that is caused by the tingling sensations is not the same as skin itchiness that one experiences from an allergy.

Please be sure to consult your doctor about all recommendations and products before deciding to follow or use them during your journey.

Facelift 101: Why Do Pins & Needles Happen?

If you have started to get tingly sensations or pins in needles in your face, neck, chin, cheeks, scalp or ears and you are wondering what is happening to you, here is a more in depth explanation. First off, every sensation you have is carried by neurons, or nerve cells, from a part of your body to the spinal cord. These messages are then forwarded to the brain, where the sensations are processed. When these connections, or sensory pathways, are interrupted they can cause numbness or lack of sensation. Facelift surgery involves tissue damage as it involves making incisions and cutting and pulling your skin from its original position. After all, the skin has been lifted and temporarily detached from the underlying tissue fat and muscles, and the underlying structures consisting of tissue, muscles, and nerves may have been moved and tightened. Whenever there is surgical trauma to the body or more specifically when nerves are bruised, or cut altogether, nerve function can be altered. When these connections begin to repair themselves and nerve cells reestablish pathways to the spinal cord and brain, the sensation can be similar to that of pins and needles, tingling, electric shocks, and even itching.

Pins and needles may take place in your face and neck after a facelift because your nervous system is repairing itself so you may regain full sensation through your face, ears, neck and scalp. Pins and needles are a natural healing response to damage that surgery has caused. Because this damage can be uneven or distributed asymmetrically, tingling can occur at different rates, varying degrees, and in localized or scattered locations. Try not to be disturbed by the perhaps weird or uncomfortable sensation. You would be well advised to understand that your body is simply repairing itself so that you will be able to feel the new you. Tingling is a good sign. It means that your body is healing and that the return to feeling is happening.











Be patient as time is the best treatment for pins & needles

Scratch your face no matter how much it itches, feels tingly or tender



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