A facelift is one of the most common plastic surgery procedures available, designed to treat wrinkles, sagging and skin laxity within the face for a younger, more refreshed appearance. As we age, the effects of time, gravity, and sun exposure inevitably age our faces, producing wrinkles, folds, fat deposits and loose skin.
Patients unhappy with the changing appearance of their face may seek improvement with a facelift. This time-tested procedure targets the mid- to lower face, including the cheeks, mouth, chin and neck. Ideal candidates are usually those in their 40s, 50s or 60s looking to reverse the early signs of aging in the face, are generally healthy.
During the facelift procedure, an incision is made around the ear, sometimes extending into the scalp. There are several different techniques that may be used depending on each patient’s facial structure and desired goals, but most include sculpting, lifting and repositioning the underlying fat, muscle and deep tissues, while also trimming and redraping the skin for dramatic yet natural-looking results.
A facelift is performed under general anesthesia. The entire procedure usually takes two to four hours to perform on an outpatient basis.
Recovery & Results
After a facelift, patients may experience mild discomfort, bruising, swelling and drainage for a few days. You can wash your hair after two days and can likely return to work within a week. It is recommended that patients avoid strenuous activity for four to six weeks after surgery until swelling has completely subsided.
The results of the facelift will be immediately noticeable and will continue to improve for up to three months, as swelling decreases. While results are not permanent and do not make patients immune to the effects of aging, you will continue to look younger than if you had never undergone any treatment. The results of a well-done facelift typically last 10 years.
Lower Face Lift
A lower face lift restores youthful vitality to the lower face, lifting the cheeks and smoothing smile lines to achieve a natural rejuvenated look without the need to undergo a full facelift. Lower face lifts are ideal for reducing puffiness under the eyes, improving the contour of the upper cheeks, and correcting nasolabial folds. Incisions are small and hidden in the eyelids or in the mouth. Mid-face lifts are often performed in conjunction with lower-lid blepharoplasty to rejuvenate the area around the eyes or with implants to accentuate the cheeks.
A neck lift is a surgical procedure that smooths and tightens the neck’s skin, which can sag from aging or weight loss. There are usually two components to a neck lift: cervicoplasty, which removes excess skin, and platysmaplasty, which removes or tightens muscles in the neck. A neck lift can be performed alone or as part of a facelift. A neck lift candidate is in good physical health, and has realistic expectations about the outcome of surgery. The results of a neck lift can last up to 10 years.
A neck lift begins with a small, inconspicuous incision directly below the chin (platysmaplasty) and/or in front of the ear lobes, looping behind the ears and ending in the scalp near the back of the neck (cervicoplasty). Sagging skin is trimmed away and lifted during cervicoplasty; loose muscles that cause the “bands” around the neck to be prominent are tightened during platysmaplasty. In some cases, it is necessary to perform only one of the two procedures. Liposuction is sometimes used to remove excess fat; if so, it is performed before the neck lift. Incisions are sutured closed.
A neck lift usually takes 2 to 4 hours to perform, and the patient is given either general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation. Most neck lifts are performed on an outpatient basis. Bandages covering incisions are removed after a few days; sutures are typically removed after 7 to 10 days.
Swelling and bruising from a neck lift can last up to 10 days. Applying cold compresses and keeping the head elevated for the first 48 hours following surgery minimizes swelling. Keeping the head still, and avoiding turning or twisting it for the first few days post-surgery, is recommended. Medication is prescribed to help alleviate discomfort.
Most people return to work and other normal daily activities within 2 weeks, after which bruising and swelling have subsided. More strenuous activities should be avoided for 4 to 6 weeks.