Facelift surgery, or rhytidectomy, addresses aging in the lower third of the face primarily, but can also give some improvement to the middle third. It restores a more youthful appearance by reducing the sagging skin which causes major wrinkles, jowls, and a “turkey gobbler” neck. The jawline and neck are improved and the skin is made smoother.
A facelift can make a patient look dramatically younger and last for many years.
This improvement, however, requires a significant investments by both the surgeon and patient. While facelift results do not last forever, your face will continue to look better than if you never had the procedure. The procedure can be repeated as the unstoppable effects of gravity continue.
Minimal incision facelifts , or “mini lifts“, are much talked about and may be appropriate for a few select patients. Most often, however, minimal facelifts give minimal results.
Patients should cease smoking and taking aspirin and ibuprofen for at least 3 weeks before surgery. Full facelifts are performed in an operating room setting under anesthesia. The surgeon makes incisions hidden around the ear and hairline. Excess skin is removed and sagging muscles and connective tissues are tightened. In some cases, fatty deposits are removed from beneath the chin and neck. Incisions are closed with small sutures. A facelift is frequently performed in conjunction with blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), forehead lift, chin augmentation, and/or liposuction, to create an overall rejuvenation of the face.
Your OR time will vary depending on the operation as well as other factors. The operation commonly lasts from 5-6 hours. You will may be discharged the same day or stay overnight depending on your pain level, overall health, and other factors.
You will be discharged with a head wrap and a surgical drain. These will be removed in approximately 24 hours. You may have some oozing which is not unusual. You may shower and wash your wounds and hair on post op day 2 after removing your dressing.
You will be provided a narcotic for pain control. Do not use ice or heat unless specifically discussed with Dr. Wigod. Your symptoms should improve rapidly during the first few postoperative days and then resolve more slowly. You may begin light exercise such as walking as soon as you feel able, but avoid sweating for 2-3 weeks post op. Eat soft foods only for the first week post op. Sleep with you head elevated for about 1 week to minimize swelling. You should avoid heat and sun exposure.
Your skin will be closed with a combination of absorbable and non-absorbable sutures. Your sutures in front of your ears will be removed in one week post op and sutures behind your ear and in your hair at 2 weeks post op.
Complications following a facelift are relatively rare. These include bleeding, infection, loss of skin behind the ears, facial nerve injury, discoloration of the skin, numbness, asymmetry and scarring. Risks are increased in smokers. Your face may feel weak, numb, swollen or bruised for several weeks post op. The healing process is gradual, so you will not see your final result until about 6 months post op.
Read more about facelift from the American Society of Plastic Surgery »