As we age, our face loses some of its youthful contours. Gravity, heredity, sun damage, weight flucutations, and stress all play a role. A facelift (or rhytidectomy, which means wrinkle excision) is a surgical procedure that can improve the visibile signs of aging in the face and neck, such as:
While a facelift can't stop the aging process, it can produce a more youthful and relaxed appearance.
Every patient is different. Your surgeon will evaluate your face our, assess your skin skin and underlying bone structure, and discuss your goals for the surgery. Your surgeon will review your medical history with you to check for problems such as high blood pressure, blood clotting problems, or the tendency to form excessive scars.
A face lift surgery usually takes several hours. Every surgeon has their own technique and will customize the procedure in order to give you the best possible result. Generally, a facelift begins with an incision that starts above the hair line in the temples and extends downward in the natural line in front of the ear. The incision continues around below the earlobe and behind the ear, and then back into the hair-bearing skin behind the ear. Sometimes, a small incision is made under the chin if the neck needs additional tightening. The surgeon lifts and tightens the skin, while also tightening the underlying tissue and removing/repositioning fat. The wound is then sutured closed (metal clips may be used on the scalp). Small drainage tubes are left under the skin for a day, to drain any blood or fluid that collects. The head is loosely wrapped in bandages to minimize bruising and swelling.
The surgery may be performed as an outpatient, or you may be asked to spend one night in the surgery center. Discomfort following a facelift is usually quite modest, and can be minimized with oral pain medication. To minimize swelling after surgery, the head should be kept elevated for the first few days, and it’s best to take soft foods to avoid excessive chewing. Drain tube are removed and bandages changed on the first day after surgery. Sutures are removed in about one week. Your face may appear bruised and puffy at first, but most of this resolves within two weeks. Some mild numbness of the skin is normal after a facelift, and this will typically disappear within a few months.
Most patients will need ten to fourteen days of recovery prior to returning to work.
You should avoid strenuous activity for two weeks, and sports for four to six weeks after surgery.
The incision lines are well hidden and although they may be red at first, the redness will fade with time and the resulting scar will become difficult to see.
Your surgeon will review the potential risks and benefits of a facelift with you, but the decision to go forward with surgery is deeply personal. You will have to decide if the risks and potential complications are acceptable and whether the benefits will achieve your goals. The potential risks and complications include:
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