A Facelift (Rhytidectomy) is a surgical procedure designed to smooth and firm the skin, providing a fresh, youthful appearance. Throughout one’s life, the sun’s radiation, stress, gravity, and other factors cause the skin to sag and fit more loosely. Areas of the face and neck, in particular around the jaw line, are especially prone to the aging process. Though these changes are gradual, wrinkles and other signs of aging can make individuals “feel older” than they really are.
Am I a candidate for a facelift?
You may be candidate for facelift (rhytidectomy) if you have experienced a loss of skin elasticity and muscle tone of the face and neck. Candidates are generally in their forties or older when they elect to undergo this procedure. A facelift may also be desirable if you have the appearance of jowls and deep creases between the base of the nose and the corners of the mouth, developed facial and neck wrinkles. A facelift may also be helpful if you believe you lack youthful chin and neck contours and/or feel you have a tired facial appearance. If you find yourself looking in the mirror and pulling your skin upwards to smooth and tighten the jaw line, to decrease the depth of the folds around the nose and mouth, or to minimize the loose skin and fat in the chin and under-neck area, you are a candidate for facelift surgery.
Facelift incisions are designed to hide in the normal folds and contours around the ear, extending from the scalp near the temple area, around the back of the ear, and then into the scalp high behind the ear to avoid visibility when healed. Support for the underlying facial muscles is not achieved by suturing the cheek to the earlobe, as this fails to secure the skin or deep tissues and pulls the ear forward and abnormally low, leaving a widened visible scar in front of the earlobe, as well as an unnaturally pulled “pixie” earlobe. Careful attachment of the deep tissues to the temporal and mastoid fascia with soft, non-dissolving sutures not only gives long-lasting deep-tissue support and lifting, but also allows healing of the skin incisions without tension and with the least-visible scars.
A small incision under the chin allows the fat in this area to be removed and the underlying neck muscles to be tightened, rejuvenating one of the most important areas to be addressed in the facelift/neck lift patient. Every facelift patient will have his or her neck area addressed at the same time as the facelift; in some patients this is the main area of concern. Another “Oh, you had a facelift” giveaway is incision placement that changes or interrupts hairlines or hair growth. Careful planning, exact incision placement, and precision closure techniques can keep tell-tale scars or hairline alterations to a minimum. Additional considerations are made for men who request facelift/neck lift procedures, as their shorter hairstyles and beard/sideburn growth needs to be considered also.
A facelift is intended to give the patient a more rested and youthful contour to the face and neck. Facelifts range in size from “mini” to “standard” depending on location and extent of skin laxity. The operation is done on an outpatient basis under IV sedation. The patient goes home with head and neck wrapped in dressings, which are removed the next day. Minimal initial discomfort is easily controlled with oral medication. Sutures are removed within 14 days. Bruising and swelling decrease to “socially acceptable” levels in 10-20 days. The final result of a facelift procedure is evident in 4-6 weeks or sooner, with continued improvement for several months. Of course, some swelling or residual bruising may take longer to resolve completely, and scars fade over time. Some numbness is normal, and it improves as healing progresses. This multilayered approach to muscle layer and skin tightening, as well as fatty tissue sculpture, gives a natural, youthful look that lasts as long as possible for each patient, and much longer than all of the “lunchtime lift” or “fast recovery” facelift techniques.
Terms To Know
Tissue Glue – an option close incisions, offers surgeons and their patients decided advantages in speed and convenience, recovery, comfort, and cosmetic outcome. They are especially appropriate for aesthetic surgery patients.
Lunchtime Lift or Lifestyle Lift – Procedure techniques to tighten the mid face. The patient is awake, but numbed with a local anesthetic. The skin pulled tightly toward the ear, the excess trimmed, then reattached to the front of the ear and around to the back of the ear.
- How soon can I go back to work? Typically you can return to work and social activities in 10-14 days, and sometimes sooner that.
- How long do the results last? Face and neck lift surgery typically set the clock back about 8-10 years. You will continue to age at the same rate as before the procedure and will enjoy the benefits of the procedure for many years after.
- How bad is the pain? The discomfort after facelift surgery varies form very mild (requiring no pain medication at all) to levels of discomfort relieved with prescription pain medication. Most patients comment that there is no significant pain, but that they feel the tightness of their dressing and take prescription pain medication to help them sleep at night.