As people age, the effects of gravity, exposure to the sun, and the stresses of daily life can be seen in their faces. Deep creases form between the nose and mouth; the jaw line grows slack and jowly; folds and fat deposits appear around the neck.
A face lift (technically termed rhytidectomy) can not stop this aging process. What it can do is “set back the clock,” by improving the most visible signs of aging.
Are you a candidate?
The best candidate for a face lift is a man or woman whose face and neck have begun to sag, but whose skin still has some elasticity and whose bone structure is strong and well-defined. Most patients are in their forties to sixties, but face lifts can be performed successfully on people in their seventies or eighties.
What is the procedure?
A face lift is performed by removing excess fat, tightening underlying muscles, and redraping the skin of your face and neck. The procedure usually takes several hours; longer if you are undergoing more than one procedure.
Incisions usually begin above the hairline at the temples, extend just inside the cartilage at the front of the ear, and continue behind the earlobe to the lower scalp. If the neck needs work, a small incision may also be made under the chin.
In general, the skin is separated from the fat and muscle below. Fat may be trimmed or suctioned from around the neck and chin to improve the contour. The underlying muscles are tightened and the skin is pulled back, and the excess is removed. Stitches secure the layers of tissue and close the incisions.
Following surgery, a small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin behind your ear to drain any blood that might collect there. Your head may be loosely wrapped in bandages to minimize bruising and swelling.
Can you have Rhytidectomy and other procedures simultaneously?
A face lift can be performed alone or in conjunction with other facial rejuvenating procedures such as Blepharoplasty to brighten your eyes, Chin Augmentation to restore your chin and neck, or a Browlift that will rid you of the tired look.
How will your features change with Rhytidectomy?
A face lift can make you look younger and fresher and may enhance your self-confidence, but it can not give you a totally different look nor can it restore the health and vitality of your youth.
What will the recovery period be like after surgery?
Usually no significant discomfort occurs after surgery; if discomfort occurs, it can be lessened with pain medication prescribed by your surgeon.
You will be told to keep your head elevated and as still as possible for a couple of days after surgery, to keep the swelling down. If you’ve had a drainage tube inserted, it will be removed one or two days after surgery. Bandages, when used, are usually removed after one to five days. Don’t be surprised at the pale, bruised, and puffy face you see. Just keep in mind that in a few weeks you’ll be looking normal.
Most of your stitches will be removed after about five days. Your scalp may take longer to heal, and the stitches in your hairline could be left in a few days longer.
You should be up and about in a day or two, but plan on taking it easy for the first week after surgery. Be especially gentle with your face and hair, since your skin will be both tender and numb, and may not respond normally at first.
You will be told to keep your head elevated and as still as possible for a couple of days after surgery, to keep the swelling down. If a drainage tube was inserted, it will be removed one or two days after surgery. Bandages, if used, are usually removed after one to five days. Do not be surprised at the pale, bruised, and puffy face you see. Just keep in mind that in a few weeks you will be looking normal.
Most of your stitches will be removed after about five days. Your scalp may take longer to heal, and the stitches in your hairline could be left in a few days longer. You should be up and about in a day or two, but plan on taking it easy for the first week after surgery. Be especially gentle with your face and hair, since your skin may be tender and numb, and may not respond normally at first. Numbness of the skin is quite normal and will disappear in a few weeks or months.
Your will be given more specific guidelines for gradually resuming your normal activities. Avoid strenuous activity (including sex and heavy housework) for at least two weeks (walking and mild stretching are fine). Avoid alcohol, steam baths, and saunas for several months. Above all, get plenty of rest and allow your body to spend its energy on healing.
At the beginning, your face may look and feel rather strange. Your features may be distorted from the swelling, your facial movements may be slightly stiff, and you may be self-conscious about your scars. Some bruising may persist for two to three weeks and you may tire easily.
By the third week, you will look and feel much better. Most patients are back at work about ten days to two weeks after surgery. If you need it, special makeup is available to mask remaining bruising.
Will incisions be visible?
You will have some scars from your face lift, but they are usually hidden by your hair or in the natural creases of your face and ears. In any case, they will fade within time and should be scarcely visible.
Are the effects permanent?
Having a face lift does not stop the clock; however, the effects of a face lift are long-lasting. Years later, you will continue to look better than if you’d never had a face lift at all. Your face will continue to age with time, and you may want to repeat the procedure one or more times-perhaps five or ten years down the line.
What are the risks of Rhytidectomy?
Complications from a face lift are infrequent and usually minor. Because individuals vary greatly in their anatomy, physical reactions, and ability to healing, the outcome is never completely predictable.
Complications may include hematoma (a collection of blood under the skin that must be removed by the surgeon), injury to the nerves that control facial muscles (usually temporary), infection, and reactions to the anesthesia. Poor healing of the skin is most likely to affect smokers. You can reduce your risks by closely following your surgeon’s instructions before and after surgery.
Where is the procedure performed?
A face lift may be performed in our office-based facility, an outpatient surgery center, or a hospital. It is usually performed on an outpatient basis.
What will the recovery period be like?
The chances are excellent that you will be happy with your face lift-especially if you realize that the results may not be immediately apparent. Even after the swelling and bruises are gone, the hair around your temples may be thin and your skin may feel dry and rough for several months.