Facelift surgery, technically known as a “rhytidectomy,” is a cosmetic procedure designed to provide a more youthful facial appearance.
Over time, heredity, gravity, stress, and environmental conditions take a toll on our skin, muscle, fat and bone that cause us to look noticeably older. A facelift improves signs of aging in the face and neck, including fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin, jowls, marionette lines, nasolabial folds, and hollows beneath the eyes. Newer non surgical techniques attempt to mimic a facelift but surgical rejuvenation remains the most powerful approach. If you’re considering face lift surgery, consult a board-certified plastic surgeon. It’s important to understand what face lift surgery entails, including possible risks and complications as well as set realistic expectations.
How do I know when I’m ready for a facelift?
If you can relate to any of the following, a facelift may be the right option for you:
- You have fine lines and wrinkles on your face or neck
- You have sagging tissues on your face or neck
- You always appear tired, sad, or angry because of deep-set wrinkles
- You appear older than you feel or older than your actual age
Reasons to Undergo Facelift Surgery
Restore Your Confidence
Facelift surgery provides a significantly more youthful, rested appearance, which allows patients to feel better about themselves and boosts their confidence and self-esteem. Advanced techniques avoid stigmata of surgery making it harder for people to know patients have had surgery.
Previous facelift techniques only tightened the skin, resulting in a pulled or “wind-blown” look. Current facelift techniques tighten the skin as well as the underlying structures of the face, providing very natural-looking results that are long lasting. Volumizing the facial soft tissues with fat grafting can enhance any facelift procedure to restore your youthful look.
A facelift can take up to ten years off of your appearance and can last just as long or longer. When you look younger you often feel younger. With facelift surgery, you can look as young as you feel.
A mid facelift addresses fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin in the cheek and eyelid cheek junction. Your surgeon restores cheek volume and repositions the malar fat pad of the midface. Ideally for patients in need of lower eyelid and midface rejuvenation. Approaches to the midface are performed through, lower eyelid incision, temporal incision, and standard facelift incision.
A mid facelift provides the following benefits:
- Ability to treat both the cheek and lower eyelid
- Provides a youthful natural appearance
A traditional facelift addresses fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin in the lower face, jowls, and neck. Your surgeon tightens the facial muscles of the lower face and removes sagging skin to provide a youthful appearance. The surgeon may also remove fat with liposuction and redistribute with fat grafting to provide the most aesthetically pleasing results.
A traditional facelift provides the following benefits:
- Achieves the most significant improvement
- Eliminates signs of aging in all areas of the lower face and neck
Limited Incision Facelift
A limited incision facelift is an alternative to the traditional facelift and mid facelift. Ideally for men and women who seek a subtle improvement to the lower face, mid face or both.
A limited incision facelift provides the following benefits:
- Uses fewer and shorter incisions than a traditional facelift
- Allows for a shorter recovery time than a traditional facelift
A neck lift is often performed along with a traditional facelift procedure. The surgeon tightens the neck muscles in the midline through an incision under the chin. This approach removes sagging skin to produce smoother, more youthful-looking neck contours. The surgeon can also remove fat deposits in the neck during this procedure to optimize your results.
A neck lift provides the following benefits:
- Eliminates wrinkles, “neck bands,” and sagging skin in the neck area
Improves the appearance of a double chin
The Facelift Process
Once you fill out the online questionnaire, you will be contacted to confirm an appointment for a one-on-one consultation with the surgeon. You may also provide photos through our HIPAA compliant system and during your visit your surgeon can provide a personal 3D simulation of different facelift techniques using your own photos.
This appointment also includes an analysis of your health history, any medications you are taking, and what you desire to achieve with the procedure. Please have all of this information with you when you come to your appointment. All of which can be submitted electronically through our HIPAA compliant patient portal.
The surgeon will discuss the techniques that will best provide you with the results you desire and answer any questions you may have.
Your surgeon will review in detail all of the information you need to know prior to surgery.
Generally, patients should avoid nicotine products eight weeks before surgery and stop taking anti-inflammatory medication (e.g., aspirin and ibuprofen) for at least two weeks before surgery. Some vitamins and supplements may also cause problems during or after surgery, so it is best to avoid them or to talk to your surgeon about potential side effects.
You may be asked to bathe using an antibacterial soap before your procedure.
Eating and drinking restrictions include:
- 8 hours before the procedure – stop eating heavy meals or foods, such as meat, fried foods, or fatty foods.
- 6 hours before the procedure – stop eating light meals or foods, such as toast or cereal.
- 6 hours before the procedure – stop drinking milk or drinks that contain milk.
- 2 hours before the procedure – stop drinking clear liquids.
You may be asked to obtain blood tests.
Be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home and care for you for the first 48 hours after your procedure.
During the Procedure
Facelift surgery is performed with general anesthesia, in a surgery center, and takes four-six hours to complete. An IV will be inserted into one of your veins. Based on the techniques agreed upon during your consultation fat grafting may be used. Incisions are most commonly made behind the tragus and may extend into the scalp behind the ear with absorbable and non-absorbable sutures. In most cases drains are used and removed the next day.
After surgery, your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and blood oxygen level will be monitored until you leave the surgical center. You may continue to receive fluids and pain medicines through an IV.
You will have to wear compression stockings to help prevent blood clots and reduce swelling in your legs. You will be advised to wear a mild compression chin strap to aid with swelling and to keep you comfortable. Facial swelling will typically subside after about two weeks but may last as long as a few months.
Expect pain, bruising, and tenderness for which you will be provided pain medications as needed.
For the first few days after surgery you will need to get plenty of rest. You will be provided with massaging techniques to be performed during your recovery. Most patients are able to return to work in one week and resume regular exercise after about six weeks.
Your surgeon will give you more detailed information about what you can expect during your recovery.
Q. Who is an ideal candidate for a facelift?
A. Ideal candidates desire correction of the wrinkles and sagging skin on their face below their eyes, over the cheek, jawline and/or neck. The best candidates have never smoked, normal blood pressure or precisely controlled high blood pressure and have realistic expectations of what the procedures can do.
Q. Where are the incisions for a facelift located?
A. The incisions for all techniques are easily hidden within the hairline. With the traditional facelift, the incision begins in the hairline at the temples, toward the ear and behind the tragus, continues under and around the ear, then ends in the sulcus behind the ear. The limited incision facelift involves shorter incisions along the same area and most times does not go into the scalp. Sometimes a small incision within the lower eyelids is used in any of the facelift techniques, depending on the needs of the patient. The neck lift incisions continue from the ear sulcus and continue into the scalp and down the hairline with an additional incision under the chin.
Q. What is a facelift recovery like?
A. You should arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery and assist you for the first 24 to 48 hours of recovery. Your surgeon will prescribe medication to help minimize pain and keep you comfortable during this time. Medications to prevent nausea and vomiting are commonly used. Patients with high blood pressure also may require additional medication to ensure tight control of their blood pressure is maintained. Swelling and bruising may last from a few days to a few weeks. Most patients can return to work within one to two weeks. Drains are sometimes used to help prevent seromas. Sleeping aids are also prescribed but not required for all.
Q. When will I see the final results of my facelift?
A. Most patients see significant results from their facelift within two weeks, although subtle changes may continue to occur for up to six months to one year after the procedure. Fat grafting to the face enhances and contributes to optimize your final result.