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.
Surgery for a facelift involves the contraction and realignment of facial and neck skin, and in some instances the removal of excess fat deposits. A facelift is often performed in combination with other facial cosmetic procedures and can be performed any time signs of aging begin to appear. However, patients are generally in their forties or older when they elect to undergo this procedure.
Reasons for Considering a Facelift:
Sagging skin, muscles, and fat in the face and neck.
Excess skin and fat on the neck.
Sagging jaw line.
Crease lines along the nose, mouth, and chin.
The standard procedure for a facelift commonly involves making small incisions just inside the hairline, following the contour in front of the ear, and continuing under the earlobe to the backside of the ear and to the lower scalp. Tissue and fat deposits are separated, the skin is stretched and tightened, and any excess skin is removed. If the neck line requires attention, an additional incision is made under the chin and the same procedure is again followed. Minuscule stitches are used to close the incisions and to reduce any chance of scarring. Metal clips or staples may also be utilized at the hairline.
A face lift may take several hours or longer depending on whether other cosmetic procedures are completed at the same time. Sometimes other procedures may be performed in separate appointments. There are several different facelift techniques that can be employed, from small lifts to extensive repositioning of the facial skin and soft-tissues. Patients can discuss with their physician which method is best for them when they come in for their consultation.
Immediately after surgery, the face is fitted with bandages in order to decrease the recovery time and to reduce swelling. Generally, post-operative instructions call for plenty of rest and limited movement in order to speed up the healing and recovery process. Ice packs to the cheeks immediately after surgery and the first post-operative day help to prevent and reduce swelling and bruising. The dressing is changed on the first day after surgery to a smaller dressing. Occasionally, small drains are placed behind each ear. These are removed on the day after surgery. The stitches are normally removed within a week. Patients sometimes report some minor pain associated with surgery. Any discomfort can be treated effectively with oral medication. While complications are rare, patients can minimize potential problems by carefully following the directions given after the procedure.