Age, sun exposure and genetics can all cause the skin to wrinkle and sag. In youth, fatty tissues are evenly distributed in facial contours, resulting in a smooth, round facial appearance. Over time, however, the skin sags and produces increasingly prominent folds around the chin, jawline and neck. The facelift not only improves the facial appearance, it also improves the contour and profile of the neck. While a facelift can provide a dramatic end result, making a patient look five to ten years younger, it is not a simple procedure and does require a recovery of seven to ten days.
Before your surgery, we will evaluate your medical history to determine your overall health. Dr. Abergel will discuss what you can expect from the surgery and how your face can be improved. You will be able to review before and after photographs to see what the surgery has accomplished. It is our goal to create a natural appearance that you find pleasing. You will be given preoperative instructions for before your surgery. Drugs containing aspirin will need to be avoided for several weeks beforehand to minimize excess bleeding, and you may be required to take antibiotics to prevent infection. You may also be given instructions to shampoo your hair on the night before surgery, and it may be necessary to shave a small amount of hair around your ears and temples on the day of surgery.
While a facelift may be performed on its own, it is often combined with other procedures such as eyelid surgery, a forehead lift, chin augmentation and/or liposuction for an overall facial rejuvenation. The procedure is often performed in an outpatient surgical center or in an accredited physician’s office-based facility. Local anesthesia with intravenous sedation is typically used, along with premedication to help you relax. While not as common, general anesthesia is another option. The incisions are located inside the hairline at the temple, in front of the ear and running around the earlobe to the scalp area behind the ear. Working through the incisions, sagging muscles and connective tissues are tightened and excess skin is removed. Fatty deposits may be removed from beneath the chin and from the neck if necessary. Small sutures are then used to close the incisions. The procedure may take up to five hours to perform.
You will need to have someone drive you home after your procedure and stay with you for the first twenty-four hours. A large dressing will be wrapped around your head and surgical drains may be required, though these will be removed within about twenty-four hours. The stitches around the ears will be loosened or removed within a few days while the stitches at the scalp will be removed within seven to ten days. The sutures may be removed in stages to minimize scarring. Scarring fades quickly, while swelling and discoloration will decrease within two weeks. You may feel a tightness in your face for several weeks and there may be slight changes in your hair pattern around the incision. Sun exposure should be avoided for several weeks.
Some numbness may occur in the facial skin and the area around the ear during the first few weeks after surgery. You may also experience some temporary discoloration as the healing begins, and this may take a few months to fade. Occasionally, the facial nerve may be bruised during surgery which can result in a temporary loss of function or sensation. Fortunately, permanent damage to the facial nerve is rare. Because the healing process is a gradual one, the final results of the facelift may not be apparent for up to six months. While a single procedure often achieves the desired results, the procedure can be repeated in the future as gravity continues its effects after surgery. Most facelift patients are very happy with their new, more youthful appearance.
While complications after facelift surgery are rare, they may include bleeding, infection, loss of skin behind the ears, facial nerve injury, discoloration of the skin, numbness, asymmetry and scarring. Infection is rare due to the large blood supply to the face and, as mentioned, the risk of bleeding can be reduced by avoiding aspirin or blood thinners for two weeks before surgery. The risk of wound complications is increased among diabetics, persons with a history of radiation, autoimmune and collagen disease, and smokers. You can minimize potential problems by following pre - and post-operative instructions.
Q - What is a facelift?
Q - How do I know if I’m a good candidate for a facelift?
Q - What happens during a consultation for a facelift?
Q - Where is the facelift procedure performed?