A face lift (rhytidectomy) tightens sagging skin in your face and neck. As you age, your levels of collagen and elastin start to drop. Collagen is what makes your skin firm, while elastin cause your skin to contract after it is stretched. Environmental factors such as sun exposure and air pollution, as well as smoking and genetics, also play a role in how your skin ages.
The procedure may correct:
- Sagging cheeks
- Extra skin near the jawline (jowls)
- Loose skin in the neck area
- Creases that extend from the nose to the corner of the mouth (marionette lines)
When Should You Have a Facelift
Most of our patients are 40 or older, but every patient is different. Your surgeon will sit down with you to go over your desired outcome and concerns. Our staff takes the time to listen and truly understand your goals. Based on your responses, your surgeon will make a personalized procedure recommendation.
We will also take a health history, including the following:
- Any drugs you are taking, including all prescription, over the counter, vitamins and herbal supplements.
- Any allergies to medications
- Any bleeding issues, including any blood-thinning medication or supplements that increase risk for bleeding
If you plan to have other cosmetic surgery procedures, your surgeon may recommend doing those at the same time as your facelift.
Preparing for a Facelift
Your care team will tell you when to stop eating and drinking before the procedure and if you need to take a shower with special soap to prevent infection. If you smoke or use nicotine products, talk to your doctor about when to stop using them before the procedure.
You will need to find someone to drive you home after the procedure.
What Happens During a Facelift
The surgery takes between two and four hours. Depending on your procedure, you may be asleep under anesthetic. In some cases, you may only need a local anesthetic to numb the area where the incisions are. You will have an IV in your arm with fluids and medication.
Your surgeon will make incisions in your scalp, in front of your ears, behind your ears and possibly on your chin based on your face structure and your desired outcomes. Then he or she will lift and tighten the skin, as well as the muscle and tissue below it. You may need drains at the incision sites to remove excess fluid.
Finally, your surgeon will close the incisions with stitches or staples and cover them with bandages. The bandages may put pressure on the incisions to limit swelling or bruising.
After a Facelift
Your care team will take you to a recovery room and provide pain medication. You will most likely go home that same day. If your surgeon placed drains in your incisions, you will need to come back in a day or two to remove them.
When you go home, elevate your head on pillows to help reduce swelling. Get plenty of rest. Avoid bending over. Squat if you need to pick something up. Your doctor will tell you when you can take a shower or bath, if you have restrictions on how much weight you can lift and when you can resume normal physical activities. If something is unclear, ask questions.
Your surgeon may prescribe medications to prevent infection and lessen pain and swelling. If you are still in pain, wrap an ice pack or bag of frozen peas in a towel and place it on the painful area. Do not leave it on for more than 15 minutes at a time.
Your care team will talk to you about how to care for your incisions and how to change your bandages. Always wash your hands before touching your bandages or wound area. Watch for signs of infection.
- Fever over 100.4°F (38°C)
- Excessive swelling
- Warmth around the wound
- Yellow, green or bloody discharge
- Foul smell coming from the wound
Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.
Your surgeon will need to remove any staples or stitches and also check on your progress. We will schedule these appointments before you leave on the day of your surgery.
As with any surgery, there are risks involved. You may experience bleeding or blood clots, so make sure you tell your surgeon about any history with either of these. Your incisions may get infected, so be sure to follow your care team's instructions regarding cleansing and follow-up care.
Some patients report numbness or a change in how the skin feels. If your incisions were in your scalp, you may experience hair loss near the surgery site.
Your doctor will discuss specific risks with you prior to your procedure.
Before and After a Facelift
These are typical results, but every patient is different.