In time, gravity, sun exposure, and the stresses of daily life take their toll on our faces: deep creases appear beside the mouth, the jawline slackens, and folds and fat deposits appear on the neck. Facelifts counteract these problems by removing fat and tightening skin and muscles, giving your face a fresher, youthful look — after surgery, some patients appear as much as ten or 15 years younger.
Facelifts are most often performed on people in their 40s-60s, those in their 70s or 80s can have facelifts as well. The procedure can be combined with others (browlift, eyelid surgery, nose reshaping) for more dramatic results, or it can be restricted to the neck (necklift) if the patient’s problems center there.
Facelifts are usually outpatient procedures and may be performed in an office-based facility, surgery center or hospital, typically under local anesthesia combined with a sedative. The procedure itself varies depending on the surgeon and the patient’s facial structure (i.e. where the incisions are placed, whether one or both sides of the face are worked on at once, in which order the steps are performed).
What can a facelift do for me?
A facelift improves the look of the lower and middle areas of the face, and the neck. It is most effective for correcting the following:
- Mid-face sagging
- Deep creases under the eyes
- Nasolabial folds
- Sagging fat
- Loose skin and fat under the chin and jaw
Although a facelift removes or reduces signs of aging, over time, they will gradually reappear. A facelift does not improve the look of the brow, eyelids and nose, and some parts of the mid-face. A patient who wants to improve those areas might combine facelift with a brow lift or eyelid surgery, and/or with injectable soft-tissue fillers, facial implants and skin resurfacing.
Who are good candidates for a facelift?
The best candidates for a facelift want to correct one or more of the signs of aging indicated above; have some facial sagging, but still have elasticity in their skin; are generally healthy; do not smoke; and have realistic expectations about what rhytidectomy can do.
How is a facelift performed?
A facelift is typically performed as an outpatient procedure in an office-based facility, surgery center or hospital. Patients may have a choice of IV sedation or general anesthesia. The procedure takes about 2 hours. The way a facelift is performed depends on the surgeon, the patient’s facial structure, and the extent of correction desired. The types are traditional facelift and limited-incision facelift. In both methods, incisions are closed with stitches or tissue glue. Scars are hidden in the hairline and natural contours of the face.
What is the recovery from a facelift like?
After facelift, the surgeon wraps the incisions in bandages, and may place drainage tubes. The tubes are taken out the next day, when the hair is carefully washed. If surgical clips are holding some incisions closed, they are removed, along with any stitches, one week after the procedure. Swelling, numbness, bruising and a feeling of tightness or tension in the face and neck may be felt. The face may look uneven or distorted, and facial muscles may feel stiff. Most of these side effects resolve within 3 to 6 weeks, and sensation typically returns to normal within a few months. Scars become less red, raised, lumpy and itchy over time.
How long do the effects of a facelift last?
Results of a facelift are not permanent, and some patients choose to undergo another in 5 or 10 years. In some sense, however, effects are long-lasting; years later, the face continues to look better than if rhytidectomy had not been performed.