Facelift surgery, also known as rhytidectomy, is a surgical procedure in which the skin on a patient’s face is lifted and tightened so as to appear younger and firmer. It is one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries performed today, following only liposuction, breast augmentation, tummy tuck, eyelid surgery, and breast lift.
Why Have a Facelift?
Facelifts can help you not only look and feel your best, they can take sagging, stressed, tired skin and make it look younger. Time is not kind, and the toll life can take on our minds, bodies, and faces can be significant. With a facelift, your troubles will not all go away but the worry about your age showing itself in the sagging of your cheeks or the jiggling of your chin will be eased. Contrary to popular belief, we do not have to look old as we get older. Thanks to cosmetic and medical advances, we are more in control of our bodies and our looks than ever before. A facelift may be right for you if you’d like to take control and restore a more youthful and vibrant appearance to your face.
Some advantages of a facelift are that it can tighten facial muscles, repair loose skin, and improve the overall contours of the face. Improving the contours of the face and neck can help restore a more youthful appearance. A patient so treated, will look and feel younger, will have a more refreshed countenance, and an improved confidence in the way they look.
For the facelift, most patients will be given a general anesthetic. In selected patients undergoing more abbreviated procedures, a local anesthetic with sedation may be preferred. The key difference between the two is that general anesthesia involves the patient being completely unconscious during the procedure, while twilight anesthesia (local anesthesia with sedation) involves the patient being awake but not comprehending what is happening. With twilight anesthesia, the patient will be able to respond to commands given by the surgeon, but they will not remember the procedure when the medication wears off.
The second step in a facelift is the incision. The type of incision made depends on the type of facelift being performed. There are three basic types of facelifts, and they are:
This type of facelift involves an incision starting at the temple and continuing down around the earlobe and to the back of the neck. This tightens the face as well as the neck.
Limited Incision Facelift
A limited incision facelift utilizes a smaller incision that goes from the top curve of the ear all the way around the earlobe to the back of the ear. This type of facelift primarily affects the cheek, the jawline and upper neck, tightening the skin and making the facial structure more defined.
A neck lift incision utilizes the lower portion of a traditional facelift incision; that is, it goes around the bottom of the ear to the back of the neck. This type of lift is traditionally used to correct loose neck skin, sagging jowls, and accumulations of fat under the chin that gives a person that “double chin” look. An additional incision underneath the chin is often used in the necklift procedure.
The Third step in a facelift procedure is tightening the deep facial structures, contouring the facial aesthetic lines, and removal of excess skin. The deep facial structures are represented by the SMAS and the platysma. The SMAS is a connective tissue layer that is confluent with the facial muscles. The SMAS becomes lax with age and tightening it with fine sutures helps to restore a more youthful is tone to the facial structures. The Platysma is a broad flat muscle that lines the neck and is responsible for the turkey gobbler neck bands. Tightening of the platysma restores a more youthful appearance to the neck and eliminates the bands in front of the neck. Fat deposits along the jawline and under the chin contribute to the typical jowl deformities and a fatty neck appearance. During the facelift, excess fat is trimmed to improve the face and neck contours. In some areas, fat may be grafted to enhance the aesthetic facial contours particularly in the area of upper cheek and malar region, the tear trough areas of the lower eyelid, and the temple hollow area that is occasionally associated with aging.
The Fourth step in a facelift is closing the incision. Plastic surgeons are particularly skilled at ensuring minimal scarring from the incisions they make. For facelifts, in particular, the incisions are concealed within the hairline and natural skin creases so any visible marks left from the procedure will be well concealed.
After the incision is closed, recovery begins. Patients are typically able to return home soon after their procedure. During recovery, the patients can expect to see some bruising and swelling, and it is important to remember that this is perfectly normal.
Even though there are plenty of benefits, there are risks to undergoing a facelift. These can include but are not limited to bleeding, nerve damage, infection or necrosis in the skin flaps, reaction to the anesthetic, and hair loss near the incision site. Bleeding is the most common risk. If you notice any of these risks happening to you, or even if you just suspect they are happening, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Recovery time for a facelift varies, but it typically takes about two weeks to return to normal activity. Full recovery, including a return to strenuous activity, will take longer.
Are You a Candidate?
People who are wondering if they are facelift candidates should consider their level of wrinkling and skin sagging. Potential candidates should also consider the following questions:
• Do you have a medical condition that might increase your risks for undergoing a facelift procedure?
• Can your medical condition be optimized to allow you to undergo a facelift procedure safely?
• Do you fully understand and have realistic expectations about what a facelift can and cannot do for you?
• Are you willing to accept the potential risks of a facelift such as bleeding, scarring, nerve injury, even though these risks are relatively small?
Candidates should answer all of the above questions honestly. Dr. Walton may have different questions or other criteria to review with you.
Candidates should answer all of the above questions honestly. Dr. Walton will have different questions and other criteria to review with you.
How long will the procedure last?
Facelift procedures typically last three to six hours, depending on the type of facelift and other ancillary procedures are being performed. The results typically last four to ten years and can vary according to certain intrinsic and extrinsic factors such as genetic aging, stress, illness, etc.
What can I expect after the procedure?
Swelling, and bruising are common side effects of a facelift. Pain is surprisingly minimal. Patients commonly experience tightness in the face for several months following the facelift procedure, especially if the SMAS and platysma tissues are treated. Expect to take it easy for 2-3 weeks after the procedure.
Are there risks?
As with any major surgical procedure, facelifts carry some risks. The most common risk is bleeding. Other risks include nerve injury, hair loss, skin necrosis and infection. These occur infrequently. Follow up appointments are crucial to ensuring complications can be evaluated and addressed.
How soon can I return to work?
The typical recovery time for a facelift is two weeks, although some patients may feel up to returning to normal activity even sooner than that.
The next step to achieving your cosmetic goal for facelift is to call our office for a consultation. This one-on-one time allows you to investigate all the available options and to get to know Dr. Walton. You will never feel pressured to choose surgery, and we recommend that you bring a family member or trusted friend with you to be sure you ask all the questions you wish. Your consultation fee is applied toward any surgery plan. For an appointment, please call Grace at our Chicago plastic surgery office at 312-337-7795 or fill out the contact form in this page. We look forward to meeting you and helping you achieve your image transformation here in Chicago.