Over time, gravity and sun exposure take their toll on the face and neck. Deep creases that run from each side of the nose to the corners of the mouth appear; the jawline slackens; and the neck develops loose folds and fat deposits. A facelift (rhytidectomy) counteracts these signs of aging by tightening muscle, removing fat and trimming excess skin, giving the face a fresher, more youthful look.
REASONS FOR FACELIFT
A facelift improves the look of the lower and middle areas of the face, and the neck. It is most effective for correcting the following:
- Mid-face sagging
- Deep creases under the eyes
- Nasolabial folds
- Sagging fat
- Loose skin and fat under the chin and jaw
Although a facelift removes or reduces signs of aging, over time, they will gradually reappear. A facelift does not improve the look of the brow, eyelids and nose, and some parts of the mid-face. A patient who wants to improve those areas might combine facelift with a brow lift or eyelid surgery, and/or with injectable soft-tissue fillers, facial implants and skin resurfacing.
CANDIDATES FOR A FACELIFT
The best candidates for a facelift want to correct one or more of the signs of aging indicated above; have some facial sagging, but still have elasticity in their skin; are generally healthy; do not smoke; and have realistic expectations about what rhytidectomy can do.
A facelift is typically performed as an outpatient procedure in an office-based facility, surgery center or hospital. Patients may have a choice of IV sedation or general anesthesia. The procedure takes about 2 hours. The way a facelift is performed depends on the surgeon, the patient’s facial structure, and the extent of correction desired. The types are traditional facelift and limited-incision facelift. In both methods, incisions are closed with stitches or tissue glue. Scars are hidden in the hairline and natural contours of the face.
RECOVERY AFTER A FACELIFT
After facelift, the surgeon wraps the incisions in bandages, and may place drainage tubes. The tubes are taken out the next day, when the hair is carefully washed. If surgical clips are holding some incisions closed, they are removed, along with any stitches, one week after the procedure. Swelling, numbness, bruising and a feeling of tightness or tension in the face and neck may be felt. The face may look uneven or distorted, and facial muscles may feel stiff. Most of these side effects resolve within 3 to 6 weeks, and sensation typically returns to normal within a few months. Scars become less red, raised, lumpy and itchy over time.
Results of a facelift are not permanent, and some patients choose to undergo another in 5 or 10 years. In some sense, however, effects are permanent; years later, the face continues to look better than if rhytidectomy had not been performed.
RISKS OF A FACELIFT
Possible complications of a facelift include bleeding, infection, bruising, swelling or discoloration, allergic reaction to the anesthesia, skin blistering (usually only in smokers), nerve injury, and temporary or permanent loss of sensation in the face.