The face is usually the first place we start to notice the effects of gravity, sun exposure, life stresses and our genetics. These factors can cause deep creases on the cheeks, a jowly, ill-defined jawline, sagging skin and fat under the chin and around the neck — to name a few of the issues that send people to the plastic surgeon.
What is a Facelift?
A facelift, or rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure that can help erase signs of aging by removing excess fat, tightening underlying muscles and literally re-draping face and neck skin. The procedure can simultaneously remove and tighten sagging skin, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and return the face to a more youthful, contoured appearance.
Ideal Candidates for Facelift Surgery
In order to achieve successful outcomes, it’s important that facelift candidates are in good overall health and have realistic expectations about results. Other factors that can affect patient suitability include:
- Skin elasticity
Successful healing with optimal results depends on having skin that is able to conform to its new, improved contours. So it’s best if the skin still retains some of its natural suppleness and elasticity.
- Well-defined bone structure
Patients with less distinct features and underlying bone structure may benefit from facial implants instead of, or in addition to, a facelift.
- Commitment to recovery time and care instructions
Optimal outcomes are possible when facelift patients follow all post-procedure instructions and are prepared for the time it takes to realize final results.
Facelift Before and After Photo
*Individual results may vary
Facelift Surgery Procedure
Traditional facelift surgery is performed in a hospital or outpatient surgical center. Depending on the specific type of procedure, your surgeon will use either general or regional anesthesia (nerve block), and one of these two surgical approaches:
- Minimally invasive involves smaller incisions and can provide a more subtle change in appearance. The procedure generally allows for faster recovery time and less pain than open surgery, as it causes reduced trauma to the tissue.
- Open surgery involves making a larger incision from the temple, around the ear to the lower scalp. Though open surgery can require a longer and more uncomfortable recovery, it can also be the most effective option for some patients.
Your surgeon will advise you as to which procedure is best for you, as well as length of hospital stay based on various factors such as age, medical history, general health and even personal preference.
Types of Facelifts
This is a common question with a somewhat complicated answer, as facelifts come with so many variations, techniques and titles. As a general rule, surgical facelifts differ by the type of incision, number of tissue layers treated, the areas of the face targeted and the degree of invasiveness. There are many different names and approaches for facial procedures collectively called facelifts, but they all basically fall into one of two main categories:
- The Mini Facelift (MACS. Short Scar, S-Shape, Mid-face)
- The Full Facelift (SMAS, Deep Plane, Open, Traditional)
Facial tissue is lifted and re-suspended using minimal, small incisions that can be hidden by the ear and hairline. The mini-lift is designed to improve the appearance of smile lines, jowls and loose skin, but provides less dramatic results than a full facelift. The procedure can be performed fairly quickly under local anesthesia in an office setting.
Facial tissue is repositioned, tightened and secured in its lifted position with sutures and/or tissue glue. Fat is also often removed or repositioned as part of this procedure. The incision begins at the temple behind the hairline and continues down in front of the ear, circles around the earlobe and back, ultimately camouflaged by skin creases. A traditional facelift requires more incisions and recovery time, but can deliver enhanced and longer lasting results.
The right choice for can be based on your surgeon’s recommendations considering such specifics as: your facial anatomy and aesthetic goals, downtime and recovery preferences and risks involved.
How Long Is Recovery After Facelift Surgery?
Facelift surgery recovery varies, depending on the procedure, the technique used and the patient’s unique physical and psychological healing characteristics. Generally speaking, patients feel fairly good in four or five days. Full recovery can take three to six months, with most patients saying they are comfortable going out in public in one to two weeks, or when the majority of bruising and swelling have resolved. In addition:
- A bandage might be placed around the face to minimize swelling and bruising and can be removed according to your surgeon’s instructions.
- Tubes may be present when you go home to drain excess blood and fluid and should stay in place until removed at your follow-up visit.
Specific recovery instructions will include how to care for the surgical site and drains, medications to apply or take orally, problems to watch for and when to have follow-up appointments.
How soon after Facelift Surgery can I resume normal activities?
The timeline for returning to “normal” activities varies based on the procedure and the individual, but in general, patients should be up and moving after the affects of anesthesia have worn off and vital signs are stable.
- After ten days to two weeks — return to office work
- After one week — leisurely walking
- About ten days to two week – brisk walking
- After two weeks – light jogging or other aerobic exercise
- In three weeks – slowly reintroduce weight lifting
- In six weeks – more vigorous activities
Risks of Facelift Surgery
Facelifts are considered one of the safest cosmetic procedures, but all surgery comes with some common risks, including anesthesia side effects, bleeding and infection.
Facelift surgery brings some specific risks and complications that can be temporary or permanent, including:
- Nerve injury to facial muscles
- Healing problems, more common for smokers
- Obvious scaring
- Numbness or tingling around incisions
- Hair loss at incision sites
- Skin discoloration
- Blood or fluid retention
Schedule a consultation
Your surgeon should discuss all possible complications and risks of facelift surgery during your initial consultation appointment with our Elite Plastic Surgeons. At that time, the doctor will be able to advise you as to whether a facelift is the right procedure for you, or if an alternate treatment or surgery might be preferable. Elite Plastic Surgery proudly serves Grand Rapids MI and surrounding areas. Contact us at (616) 459-1907 to schedule an appointment today!