What is a Facelift?
A facelift, also known as a rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure designed to reduce or minimize the signs of aging in the lower and middle portions of the face.
Facelifts have changed dramatically in the last 20 to 30 years. Plastic surgeons have learned a great deal about the contours of the face and how the body ages. Today, our highly experienced plastic surgeons work not only with facial skin, but also with the underlying muscle, fat and tissue. The result is a softer, more natural appearance than was possible in years past.
Our plastic surgeons use a variety of methods to treat:
Loss of elasticity
The method used depends on your individual circumstances, facial structure and surgical goals. Many people combine a facelift with an eyelid lift, a brow lift, laser skin resurfacing or other aesthetic facial procedures.
Modified or "Mini" Facelift
For those who may not want or need a full facelift, our plastic surgeons offer what is called a modified facelift or "mini" facelift. The surgery is less invasive and involves fewer of the deep tissue layers. A modified lift focuses on a more limited area of the face, such as the corners of the mouth or the folds between the nose and the outer ends of the mouth.
Who is a Good Candidate for a Facelift?
The best candidates for a facelift have realistic expectations about what the procedure can accomplish. Patients desiring a younger, fresher look may choose a facelift to regain a sense of self-confidence.
Most facelift patients are in their 50s and 60s, but ages range from people in their late 30s to those in their 70s and 80s. While women make up the majority of facelift patients, a growing number of men are seeking out the procedure.
What to Expect With a Facelift Surgery
The exact placement of incisions for a facelift depends on each person's unique facial structure to better hide scars from the procedure. Incisions usually begin above the hairline near the temples, extend the natural folds in front of the ears, and then continue into the hairline behind the ears.
The skin is then separated from the fat and muscle below. Fat may be trimmed or suctioned to improve the contour of the face. Finally, the surgeon stitches the tissue and muscle in place and closes the incision.
You will be provided specific instruction on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and avoiding anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin that may interfere with the blood's ability to clot.
Carefully following all instructions will help surgery go smoothly. You should make arrangements for post-surgical care as part of the preparation process including transportation home.
Recovering From a Facelift
A facelift may be performed either on an outpatient or an inpatient basis based on your unique needs. Regardless of how your surgery is performed it is important to realize that the amount of time it takes to recover can vary greatly between individual patients.
After surgery you will wear bandages to help manage the swelling and bruising that occurs as a result of the procedure. Additionally, you will need to keep your head elevated while sleeping. Your surgeon will provide a prescription for pain medication to manage any discomfort.
Each patient is advised on when to resume daily living activities, such as exercise, based on their individual circumstances. Most patients can begin easy walking and light household activities within a week or so. At this time your sutures will be removed as well.
After two weeks, even though the healing process is not complete, patients often return to work and continue other normal routines. The complete healing process takes time and requires patience. Camouflage make-up covers the fading bruises and redness, and the right hairstyle can hide incision lines.
Since the healing process is gradual, the desired appearance change won't be completely evident for some time, but eventually your renewed and refreshed face emerges along with a new sense of confidence.
Risks and Outcomes of a Facelift
Every type of surgery has risks. You can prevent complications by carefully following all pre- and post-surgery instructions. Our plastic surgeons carefully review all the potential risks and side effects with each patient.
Some risks specifically associated with a facelift include:
- Hematoma: A swelling that contains blood
- Nerve injuries: Causing numbness and tingling, especially near the incisions - these usually get better over time
- Scarring: While your surgery will leave faint scars, they'll be hidden above the hairline and in other inconspicuous spots