Am I a good candidate for facelift procedure?
The face usually portrays the first visible signs of aging. Both gravity and diminished volume result in the facial features of aging. Most patients requesting evaluation for facelift feel that their facial features do not reflect their youthful spirit and energy level. They are looking for ways to refresh and rejuvenate their appearance. There are many different variations of the facelift procedure that smooth the skin of the face and neck, tighten the underlying tissues and muscle, and remove excess skin. Ultimately, the facelift will allow you to turn back the hands of time to better reflect your youthful spirit.
How will my Doctor evaluate me for a facelift?
During the pre-operative consultation, your doctor will perform a history and physical examination. During your physical examination, your facial bone structure, underlying skin structure, skin thickness, texture, and elasticity as well as the extent of facial wrinkles and folds will be assessed. This information will be used to formulate a procedural plan and the goals of the procedure will be discussed. Generally, a facelift is a very versatile procedure, and your doctor will explain the technique that he or she feels most comfortable with and that offers the lowest risk. Your doctor will select the procedural technique that he or she feels will obtain the best outcome for you based on your discussions regarding the outcome you wish to achieve.
How is a facelift performed?
The facelift procedure continues to evolve. Over the years, the procedure has changed from simple skin lifting to more complex deeper plane lifting techniques. Today, many different techniques exist, with outcomes that are consistently reliable and durable. The facelift procedure usually involves incisions in front of and behind the ear. The incisions may extend into the scalp. Once the incisions are made, various degrees of undermining of the skin are performed, and the deeper layers of the face are ‘lifted’. Muscle tightening as well as liposuction of the neck and jowls may be performed, and excess skin is either removed or repositioned. The results are a reversal of the effects of gravity and tightening of soft tissues of the face to restore a more youthful contour to the face.
Fortunately, significant complications from facelifts are infrequent. Every year, thousands of people undergo successful facelift procedure and are pleased with the results. However, anyone considering procedure should be aware of both the benefits and risks. These are best discussed on a personal basis with your doctor or one of their qualified staff members.
Some of the potential complications that may occur include hematoma (an accumulation of blood under the skin), infection, and reactions to anesthesia. While doctors are trained in techniques for safely manipulating facial skin and tissues, injury to underlying structures is possible, though usually temporary. Facelift incisions are usually quite inconspicuous; however, this is not entirely predictable due to individual variations in healing. You can help minimize certain risks by following the advice and instructions given to you by your doctor both before and after procedure.
The goal of your doctor team is to make your procedural experience as easy and as comfortable as possible.
Day of Procedure
Medications are administered for your comfort during the procedure. You and your doctor will have decided in advance what type of anesthesia is to be used – either intravenous sedation (twilight) or general anesthesia. For your safety during and after the operation, various monitors are used to check your heart, blood pressure, pulse and the amount of oxygen circulating in your blood.
When procedure is completed, you will be taken into a recovery area. A bandage may be wrapped around your face. Sometimes small tubes will be inserted beneath the skin to drain away fluid that might otherwise accumulate. There is surprisingly very little discomfort experienced after facelift procedure. However, any discomfort you may experience will be controlled with pain medication as needed.
You may be permitted to go home after a few hours, although some patients may stay overnight in a hospital or procedural facility.
It is important to realize that the amount of time it takes to recover from Facelift procedure varies greatly between individuals. Elevation of the head is extremely helpful in reducing the initial post-operative swelling. Your doctor may also advise you to use ice packs intermittently.
You should avoid Aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for the first few days after your procedure. Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke should be avoided to prevent delays in the healing process.
Once the dressings and drains are removed, puffiness and discoloration may be more pronounced in some portions of the face than others. Do not be alarmed by any unevenness or temporary asymmetry – this is normal. Most swelling is usually noted in the first 24 to 48 hours, and most bruising resolves within 2 weeks. Concealing makeup is usually permitted after the first week. You may experience numbness to the face post-operatively, which usually resolves within several months
Some patients find that mild swelling persists for many weeks. Most stitches are removed within a week of the procedure.
Straining, bending, and lifting should be avoided during the early post-operative period as these activities may predispose you to bleeding.
Your doctor will give you specific instructions that may include caring for the dressings and incisions, directions for your analgesics and other medications, specific concerns to look for, and when to follow up in the office to monitor your healing process. It may take several months for the swelling to fully resolve, and up to 6 months for the incision scars to fully fade. Avoidance of factors that could reduce the benefits of the procedure, such as excessive unprotected sun exposure and cigarette use, is vital.
Results of Your Facelift
The results of your facelift may be subtle or dramatic, depending on your appearance prior to the procedure as well as the specific goals that you and your doctor have established. Since the healing process is gradual, you should expect to wait several weeks for an accurate picture of your “new look”. Additional minor changes or settling may occur over several months following your Facelift procedure.